Avoid the Awkward Moments of Networking


Overcoming Awkward Moments When Networking

Just like anything else, networking has many opportunities for awkward moments. Knowing how to handle those moments can help put you and the person you are with at ease. These are some of the awkward moments I have experienced and some I have only heard in discussion or read the stories.

8 Awkward Networking Situations You Must Avoid or at Least Be Able to Handle

Not Remembering Someone’s Name

I’ve had these experiences; everyone has these memory lapses. Don’t be embarrassed if you can’t remember someone’s name. Get over it and reintroduce yourself. Chances are this person may not remember your name either and shares your discomfort. Even better if you remember where you met previously and can reestablish the circumstances you can move toward a stronger relationship.

Don’t Force Your Business Card on the People You Meet

You don’t need to give a business card to everyone you meet. Only give your card if they ask; otherwise forget it. On the other hand DO NOT FORGET TO GET THEIR CARD! Ideally you should do this early in the discussion. The person who gets the business card first takes control of the meeting and gives this individual the opportunity to direct the discussion.

Always Have an Ample Supply of Business Cards

Guilty again! In times past I was confused as to what I was trying to do and therefore wasn’t sure what to put on my business card. What a mistake!

If people ask for a card you must be ready with your business card. Saying you forgot your cards is a weak position and very unimpressive. In many ways you are telling those you meet that you don’t take yourself seriously and therefore they shouldn’t take you seriously either.

Don’t Get Caught with Your Mouth and Hands Full of Food and Drink

If you are truly there for networking purposes don’t try to eat all the shrimp (my weakness). Keep your hands empty so you can shake hands, collect business cards and show you take your networking seriously. If you feel you might offend the event host, take a small plate, eat quickly and clear your hands. After that you should never have more than a non-alcoholic drink in one hand.

Don’t Be Distracted When You Are Talking to Someone

You have seen it and maybe you have done it as well. Someone is in a conversation and simply can’t stay focused. They are looking around to see who else is there or who is walking through the door. Your credibility is at issue; the person you are currently talking with is the most important person at the moment!

Be Friendly but Don’t Over Do It

Some people believe they must meet everyone at the event, but they don’t know how to do it gracefully. Actually few people can do it gracefully; so don’t make a fool of yourself and show insincerity!

Don’t Get Too Involved in Detailed Business Conversations

Networking events are just that; an opportunity to network and start a relationship. Some people do not feel a networking event is successful unless they walk away with new business or at least a very hot prospect.

Networking events are the opportunity to find some common ground, other than business, where a relationship can get a foothold. People like to do business with people they know. They want to be comfortable with the relationship and feel their new contact has credibility.

Don’t Use a Networking Event as an Opportunity to Get Free Advice

Many of the people at networking events may have valuable information you could use for your business. Don’t use the event as an opportunity to try to get free information. These individuals have invested time and money to get their knowledge, just as you have invested to get your knowledge; don’t compromise the relationship just so you can get something for free!

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The Six Networking Fears You Must Overcome


Facing Your Fear of Networking

Even though we have been introducing ourselves to new people since our early years; many people are more hesitant now, than they were as a child, to meet someone new. The fear associated with networking is almost as debilitating as the fear of speaking in public. And public speaking is another skill we have been perfecting since we were very young. We speak in public every day and we meet new people every day; speaking and networking are natural processes!

The Six Networking Fears

  1. I don’t want them to say no;
  2. What will they expect from me;
  3. What will they think of me;
  4. I don’t have time for the people I currently know;
  5. I’ve seen a lot of pushy people and I don’t want people to think of me that way; and
  6. It’s too cold and impersonal.

I Don’t Want Them to Say No

The fear of rejection is very strong for a lot of people; enough of a fear they will avoid the situation where someone can say no. The better way to think of this is if someone does say no; you really haven’t lost anything because you didn’t have it in the first place.

There are two options either you gain a new connection or you stay in the same place. It’s not a situation where you can go backwards!

What Will They Expect from Me?

This is a great question if you look at networking as a score card. Some people are truly in it for themselves and they are constantly looking for a payback. They give nothing if they do not believe they will be receiving in return. These are not the people you want in your network. Not that you will throw them out, but you won’t spend time nurturing the relationship. You want to spend your time on those who are worthy of your time.

True networking is from the heart and works out of a desire to be helpful to others.

What Will They Think of Me?

The first question is why are you looking to connect with the individual? Are you networking or begging? If you are going to your potential connection with your hand out looking for them to give you something; it will definitely leave a bad taste in their mouth. On the other hand if you are going with a sincere desire to network and interest in the individual; you will be fine.

The simple act of reaching out to connect isn’t going to cause alarm; it’s the intent behind your desires which have the potential to create problems. If you are honest, sincere, caring and genuine; you will have no problem with people thinking poorly of you.

I Don’t Have Time for the People I Currently Know

Our friendships and relationships are constantly evolving. Friends come and friends go; taking the position you don’t have time for new relationships is opportunity limiting. When we keep our circle of friends small or filter out the new relationships; we will only see what we already know. We need the influx of new people to precipitate an influx of new ideas.

I’ve Seen a Lot of Pushy People and I Don’t Want People to Think of Me That Way

Networking doesn’t mean you are trying to force yourself on someone. You’re not trying to be a stalker. There are a lot of pushy, overbearing people out there; however, that doesn’t mean you need to be one of them.

If you are attempting to connect with someone who believes networkers are pushy and overbearing you should be looking for other networking opportunities; chances are high this individual doesn’t have much to offer anyway.

It’s Too Cold and Impersonal

Cold and impersonal describes the person who is out for his or her self. This is the person who starts a discussion, does a quick qualify and, if you don’t measure up, moves on to the next target. I have heard numerous stories like this describing the entertainment industry in Southern California.

Cold and impersonal is a very self-absorbed group who feel you should be honored they gave you a few moments of their time.

If you are sincere in your interest in the individual you are attempting to gain as a connection; you will not be described as cold and impersonal by your connections.

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Referrals: To Get Referrals You Must First Give Referrals


Referral Success Starts with a Give First Mentality

Recently Constant Contact reported 82.6% of businesses rely on referrals for new customers. What Constant Contact did not say is; how you can increase your referrals to build your business.

Increasing referrals is best accomplished with a give first mentality. When you refer a potential customer, employee, product or service; you are serving two people, having specific needs. You are helping both parties solve their problem and you MUST have no expectations.

A Successful Referral Network Starts When Your Network Knows You Are Different

First, Your Network Is Not About You!

Your network members must know you are different! You must demonstrate you are networking for mutual benefit; not personal gain. Mutual benefit does not simply mean an exchange of goods and services; mutual benefit means a legitimate concern for each party and an interest in each other’s success.

Second, A Referral Network Is Based Upon Knowledge of the Value Proposition of Your Members

  1. What value do your network members offer to their audience?
  2. What differentiates your network member from their competitors?
  3. What stories can you relate of how your network members helped their audience to explain their value?
  4. How would you describe their ideal audience? and
  5. Can you connect the dots between opportunities and the members of your network?

When you take the time to learn this information about your network members; they will understand your sincerity in being a valuable contact. When you make your first referral they will understand your commitment to being a referral member.

In one of his many training programs, Power Networking, Brian Tracy speaks of his networking process. He asks people he meets to describe their ideal client, he makes notes on the back of their business card and immediately begins looking for an individual or organization which meets the description so he can make a referral.

Do you do this? Are you looking for ways to help the members of your network find new opportunities and business?

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Why You Want to Add the Most Connected People on LinkedIn… to Your Network


Why You Want to Add the Most Connected People on LinkedIn to Your Network

Have you seen those people on LinkedIn bragging about their 20 or 30 THOUSAND connections? Is it a little off-putting and lead you so say so what? We all know there is no way they can know or stay in touch with all these people so what’s the value?

Depending upon what they do there is value to them; but there is also value to you; but only if you are connected!

Grow Your Network Value 1 – Millions of Connections

We can say all we want about these massive connectors and how they can’t do this and they can’t do that; but there is something they can do, which may have massive value to you. They are connectors and because they have 20 or 30 THOUSAND connections; connecting to them will bring 20 or 30 THOUSAND people one degree of separation away from you. It will also bring millions of people just two degrees of separation from you. Do you know of any other way you can get one or two degrees of separation away from millions people?

Grow Your Network Value 2 – Millions of Current Addresses and Contact Information

Have you ever bought a mailing list? If so, you know there can be issues with the accuracy and how current the information. On LinkedIn your connections are responsible for keeping their information current. With mailing lists you are depending upon some organization, which is periodically surveying the people on the list, to get updates. Which do you feel is more reliable?

Grow Your Network Value 3 – Increase the Number of Times You Show Up in Search Results

Although I’m not necessarily big on SEO with LinkedIn; I feel it is important to identify the importance of a large network if you are hoping for SEO results.

I see many “LinkedIn experts” constantly talking about SEO and showing results of how tweaking your profile can improve your search result. I don’t disagree, but when they take these results and try to project them to massive results; I take issue. You can only show up in the search results when it is a first, second or third level connection or someone who is a member of one of your groups. If you have a small network you can spend an eternity improving your search terms, but it won’t make much difference; you will still get limited exposure.

Grow Your Network Value 4 – A Simple Acknowledgement of One of Your Posts or Comments Can Go to Thousands and Potentially Millions

Massively connected people have some or in cases a lot of influence over their networks. It’s like the E.F. Hutton commercials; when the person on TV says, “My Broker is E.F. Hutton and …” Everyone in the picture stops and leans in and then the voice over comes on and says, “when E.F. Hutton talks, everyone listens.” Some of these massively connected individuals have that kind of sway with their audience and it can work to your advantage if your message is GREAT!

Grow Your Network Value 5 – You Can Put Yourself in Front of this Person’s Connections… Frequently!

Would you like to be in front of Brian Tracy’s, Mark Victor Hansen’s, Jack Canfield’s, Les Brown’s, Robert Allen’s, or some celebrity’s audience on a regular basis; it’s possible with LinkedIn and all that’s required is their accepting your LinkedIn invite which, by the way, is not that difficult to get.

Once connected you can get in front of their audience through recommendations, your endorsements of their skills, comments and likes of their posts, birthday wishes, congratulatory notes, etc. The possibilities are endless and the opportunities are great.

Massively connected people can bring you massive exposure. If you have a GREAT message and you can get the attention of a massively connected individual you have the potential to reach a massive audience with their implied endorsement. There is more power in these individuals than any mailing list. Build your network with well connected people and see your sphere of influence grow!

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My name is Tom Staskiewicz and my goal is to help everyone do a little better, get a little further and reach the success they are destined to achieve!

Do you need help with your message? Are you struggling for people to know you and what you have to offer? If so, I can help. My contact information is below or Email  Me Now! and lets get started.

Whatever I can do to help you or anyone to move forward in reaching your goals; I’m all for it. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

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How Not to Use LinkedIn


How Not to Use LinkedIn

Today I received a boilerplate invitation to connect on LinkedIn; which I feel is a learning lesson on what NOT to do! I checked out the profile and connections in common, accepted and wrote a thank you. Shortly after I received this “Tom, I am looking for individuals connected into the community to connect me into some top sales opportunity. Are you a potential resource?”

If I Say I’m Not a Potential Resource Will I Be Dropped as a Connection

As I read the comment it makes me wonder if I will be deleted as a connection unless I agree to be a potential resource. I don’t really care one way or the other; but the invitation and comment do not sit well with me.

I’ve read about the individuals who are interested in networking only if it benefits them. Go back and read what was said; is there anything in this relationship for me? Is there even a hint of a possibility of there being something in it for me. If so, point it out because I don’t see the value!

Accepting a LinkedIn Invite Is the Beginning of a Relationship

The example in my opening is NOT the way you should be networking! The extending or acceptance of an invitation is the beginning of a relationship; a relationship which must be nurtured. When we start into a relationship both sides must first establish some credibility. We need to show interest in the other person, not just an interest in ourselves.

In my example this guy immediately went for the jugular by asking for a referral: this is bad practice. This guy is on my radar. I don’t want people in my network who abuse the relationship or could indirectly impact my relationship with others. I don’t know if I will keep this individual in my network; I will monitor his activities and make a decision later.

It Is a Bad Practice to Refer Someone You Do Not Know

When you make a referral you are putting your reputation on the line in support of the person you are referring. You may think this is only a referral and not a recommendation; but chances are the other parties in the process see it differently. Both the person you referred and the recipient of the referral feel there is an underlying recommendation in your action. With that being the case; you must be careful with who you refer.

I have had numerous people connect and immediately ask for a referral or recommendation and I don’t really know them that well. Needless to say they did not receive the referral or recommendation. They did, however, get a rebuke by my saying I only give referrals when I have had the chance to get to know you.

I’ve also had people, who are connections, but were lacking in their social skills turn around and ask for a referral or introduction. After being insulted myself am I really going to potentially expose my contacts to the same behavior: absolutely not!

I value my relationships, however limited they may be, with my network members and I am not going to subject them to bad behavior from people I find questionable!

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My name is Tom Staskiewicz and my goal is to help everyone do a little better, get a little further and reach the success they are destined to achieve!

Do you need help with your message? Are you struggling for people to know you and what you have to offer? If so, I can help. My contact information is below or Email  Me Now! and lets get started.

Whatever I can do to help you or anyone to move forward in reaching your goals; I’m all for it. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Check out the UPPROACH site and sign up for our newsletter of career tips and ideas for job seekers, small and medium business owners, self-employed individuals, contractors, consultants or whatever; anyone wanting to move their career forward!

Four Easy Ways to Double the Effectiveness of Your Referral Network


Four Easy Ways to Double the Effectiveness of Your Referral Network

SMBs – Small and Medium Businesses – depend upon referrals, in fact Constant Contact did a study and 82% of the small business owners surveyed said their primary source of growth comes from referrals. Brian Tracy, one of the top business strategists and trainers, once said only 1 or 2 out of every 100 connections will play a role in your business growth. The conclusions… 1) you need to build a Referral Network and 2) you don’t know which connections will deliver business growth through referrals.

If Your Business Growth Depends on Referrals; You Must Have a Strong Referral Network

To survive, your business must continue to grow; referrals from current customers, prospects, family, friends and contacts are integral to the process. So here are the “Three Easy Ways to Double the Effectiveness of Your Referral Network.”

  1. Build Your Network – You never know who will provide your next referral;
  2. Establish Your Credibility – If your referral network doesn’t find you credible; they will not refer people to you;
  3. Explain Your Value Proposition – Your network must understand, not just know, the value you bring; and you must
  4. Keep Yourself in Front of Your Referral Network – You must be Top-O-Mind with your network so they think of you when opportunities develop.

Build Your Referral Network

Building your Referral Network is critical to your growth. You need new people coming in who can promote you, your products and your services. It is true you never know who will provide your next referral, but if you build with the “right” connections you can improve your chances for good referrals. Identify the type of individuals you need in your network so you can target those who have the best potential to bring your referrals.

Your Referral Network Must Find You Credible

If you want your network to refer you to potential customers they must find you credible! If you cannot establish your credibility with your Referral Network; it’s a lost cause.

When someone refers you they are putting their reputation on the line along with yours. If the members of their Referral Network listen to them; they have established credibility within their network and a bad referral could damage their credibility so they must be careful! They are not going to be willing to put their own reputation and credibility at risk for someone they do not know!

You must be credible!

Explain Your Value Proposition to Your Referral Network

Your Referral Network must understand the value you bring. Many people try to do this by listing their skills and, in all honesty, this doesn’t work. When people hear a list of skills, at best, they will remember a few and probably with little accuracy. What you want is to tell your audience stories about the things you have done. If you are talking about skills; explain them in a story. It is much easier to remember stories and easier to relate those stories to others. Stories also help with connecting the dots as opportunities are explained.

Stories also add to your credibility. Stories help things become real in the mind of the listener and they become more interested in your situation and helping you.

Keep Yourself in Front of Your Referral Network

The last thing you must do is keep yourself in front of your Referral Network. Stay in touch, keep them apprised of what you are doing; let them know about the projects where you are engaged or recently completed.

You also want to stay in front of your Referral Network by acknowledging the things they, their families, and their companies do; if you read about something positive, let them know. You also must acknowledge any events in their lives you know. If you know about birthdays and anniversaries wish them well or congratulations. If there is a job change, new venture, promotion or other event; send or post an acknowledgement.

If members of your network post something take a moment and click like or comment. This accomplishes two things 1)it acknowledges their activity and raises your credibility in the eyes of the individual and 2) if you are regular in the process it raises your credibility in the eyes of the other members of your Referral Network! You are in front of your network, not promoting anything of yours, but promoting your network members and their activities. People appreciate seeing you be positive and helpful to themselves and others.

There you have it Four Easy Ways to Double the Effectiveness of Your Referral Network: Build Your Network, Establish Your Credibility, Explain Your Value Proposition and Keep Yourself in Front of Your Referral Network!

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My name is Tom Staskiewicz and my goal is to help everyone do a little better, get a little further and reach the success they are destined to achieve! Let me know what you think of my articles; are they helpful? If you like what I have to say; please follow my blog so you don’t miss any of my posts.

Do you need help building credibility with your Referral Network? Are you struggling for people to know you and what you have to offer? If so, I can help. My contact information is below or Email  Me Now! and lets get started.

Whatever I can do to help you or anyone to move forward in reaching your goals; I’m all for it. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Check out the UPPROACH site and sign up for our newsletter of career tips and ideas for job seekers, small and medium business owners, self-employed individuals, contractors, consultants or whatever; anyone wanting to move their career forward!

Is Your Business Network Operational, Strategic or Social


Is Your Business Network Operational, Strategic or Social

In my research I have identified that there are three types of networks: Operational, Strategic, and Social. The question is where does your network fit within those categories?

Operational Networks

Operational networks contain the individuals that help you and your team solve your day-to-day issues and challenges. The operational network is comprised of people within your organization who belong to support groups: accounting, finance, HR, IT, customer service, marketing, research, development, sales, support teams, vertical industry teams, etc. The internal people who help you overcome day-to-day issues.

Operational networks will also include relevant vendors, possibly customers that do alpha and beta testing, consultants, contractors, advisers, industry specialists, etc. These are the external people who help you understand how you are doing, what others are doing, and may offer answers and solutions.

What does it take for you and your team to get your day-to-day tasks completed? Do you have ready access to the necessary individuals? Can you find the answers in a timely manner?

If you cannot answer those questions relative to the people in your network; you must rethink your networking process and who is in your network. Your network can be a valuable asset, but only if you have the right ingredients.

Strategic Network

Strategic networks take you to the next level. Strategic networks include individuals who can help you see what is coming, who help you prepare and be prepared, and who offer insights into the future to help you determine your course of action.

Your strategic network will include visionaries from within and outside of your organization. They will be business and industry specialists; including industry lobbyists; local, state, national, and even International elected officials; government agencies, competitors, consultants, researchers, financial advisers, attorneys, and numerous other disciplines. The common thread is these individuals all have the ability to contribute perspective or help you develop perspective.

Your strategic network helps you set your course and avoid possible pitfalls and problems. These individuals assist in developing the 3, 5, and 10 year plans for you and/or your organization.

Social Network

Your Social Network consists of individuals you care about, you may even be interested in the games they play, the food they eat, the movies they watch or the restaurants they patronize. As the name implies these are your social contacts. Those who you do not expect to show up with opportunities or new business; they may, but that is just an added benefit.

Your Network

If you are like most networkers; your network probably leans toward the last type: the Social Network. The truth is these individuals are much easier to connect with and talk to. You are not as self conscious because you are not as worried you will say the wrong thing or offend someone.

Become an Effective Networker

If your desire is to become an effective networker you must be restructure your network objectives to include the operational and strategic components. The reality is that the higher up you go in an organization the more strategic your network will become. You must maintain an operational component, but the purpose will be to have the connections you need to support and help your team when it gets in a jam, faces a problem, or requires cross organization support.

Effective managers are effective networkers.

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My name is Tom Staskiewicz and my goal is to help everyone do a little better, get a little further and reach the success they are destined to achieve! Whatever I can do to help you or anyone to move forward in reaching your goals; I’m all for it. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

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