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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Five Reasons for Top Performer Success

Top Performers Succeed Because They Have Strong Relationships!

Have you ever met a successful individual who did not have a large network of contacts he or she could draw upon for help, advice, opportunities, financial assistance or an assortment of other needs?

My guess is your answer will be either you know they have a large list or you don’t know; very few will answer: the list is small. Whatever your answer, you can count on this; they have a large list! They know who to call, when they can call, why they can call and how the individual can help.

It’s important for us to study top performers so we can learn how they achieve their success. They have plowed the road for us and left a trail to follow; why not take advantage of what they have learned? Is there a need to learn the lessons for ourselves?

Five Reasons for Top Performer Success

1. Top Performers Know Relationships Start with Connections

Top performers are open to new connections. They have a plan for building their network. They have business and life goals which lead to their networking goals. Top performers know how and where to spend their time to maximize their networking goals and at the same time look for ways in which they can benefit their new connections. They lead with the value they are able to provide to the individual.

2. Top Performers Are Not Collectors; They Are Connectors

I’ve heard the term “networking mongrels” used to describe people who simply collect cards and have no interest in the card owner or developing a relationship. They give networking a bad name because they are only looking for what they can get from their new connection. They are identified quickly for what they are!

Top performers recognize it is not about the connection they can make rather it is the relationship which can develop. Sometimes the new friendships are instantaneous, sometimes they take a long time and sometimes they never happen; it may just take time to develop.

3. Top Performers Do Not Keep Score

Here’s another fact; top performers do not keep score! They don’t have records saying I did this for so-and-so; therefore this individual owes me. It doesn’t work that way. These individuals know what goes around comes around and they are just waiting for their opportunity.

If your desire is to keep score; you will not succeed because you will be so busy keeping score you will fail to act in a timely manner.

4. Top Performers Do Not Covet Their Network

Absolutely top performers protect their network for the sake of their network; however, they do not protect their network for themselves and the belief their network has only so much to give. They know the bounty of their network is limitless as long as they are treating their network with respect and proper care.

Top performers also know if they don’t share their network; their network will dry up. Why does it dry up you might ask? The reason is the network understands the person, who doesn’t share, is about him or herself and not about benefiting the members of the network.

5. Top Performers Recognize They Need Others

Top performers know they do not have all the answers. They recognized the importance and value others contribute. As I started out with this post; top performers know who they can go to for the specific advice and help they need for a given situation. They know their network and their network knows them!

It’s not who you know! It’s not how many you know! It all starts with “Who Knows You!”

How do you rate as a networker? Are you looking for ways you can benefit your network? Are you following in the path of top performers?

Do you need some great resources to help your networking? Check out my Amazon Networking Reading List!


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Remind Me Please; Why Did You Send Me an Invitation on LinkedIn?

Have You Ever Asked Yourself This Question: Why Did This Person Send Me an Invitation on LinkedIn?

Don’t get me wrong I enjoy receiving invitations and connecting on LinkedIn. Most of the time, however, the invitations are disappointing.

When I open the invitation I find the person sending the invitation made no effort to begin a relationship! Most people do not invest the few minutes necessary to actually write a personalized invitation that may open the door to a possible relationship.

Your custom invitation doesn’t need to be elaborate, it should simply give the recipient an idea as to why you want to connect. In fact it can’t be elaborate; you only have 300 characters available so you must be brief, but you can do better than LinkedIn’s default invitation.

Six Reasons Why You Should Customize Your Invitations

  1. To increase the chances your invitation will be accepted and acknowledged;
  2. To begin establishing your credibility and character;
  3. To open a communication channel to the individual;
  4. To show you are more than a numbers person trying to get as many connections as possible;
  5. To start a potential long-term friendship; and
  6. To show you are a member of the top 1% of networkers.

Different Situations Require Different Custom Invitations

Custom invitations are not a one-size fits all solution. Depending upon the situation you need an invitation that makes sense, is relevant to the situation and the individual you are inviting.

You can’t send an invitation saying it is “Great to Reconnect” to a current co-worker or someone you recently met. You will look like an idiot and decrease rather than enhance your credibility.

Some things you can use in your invite:

  1. A reminder of where you met;
  2. A little about the discussion;
  3. A reference to someone you know in common;
  4. A reminder of who you are;
  5. A statement of why you want to connect (don’t be asking for something); or
  6. An edifying, but honest, statement saying why you admire the individual and want to connect.

You can also reach out with an initial message, if the option is offered, or use “LinkedIn InMail”.

How to Customize an Invite

To customize your invitation you must invite from the person’s profile page by clicking connect. I have found some of the other connect buttons will simply send off an invite without the opportunity to customize. Personally I have found the best solution is to work from the profile page to be safe.

When the default invitation comes up; delete the LinkedIn suggestion and start typing your own invitation, thank the person for their consideration and put in your signature. Remember this is all part of your 300 characters even the dash LinkedIn inserts in front of your name.

Do you need some great resources to help your networking? Check out my Amazon Networking Reading List!


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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!


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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The Lost Art of THINKing

The Lost Art of THINKing

THINKing has become a lost art! One of the messages conveyed by Earl Nightingale in his 1950’s classic “The Strangest Secret” was the comment from Dr. Albert Schweitzer about man’s problem being the lack of THINKing!

Today it’s no different! In our tough economy people are constantly looking to others to solve their problems or to find the answers. In reality we can solve our own problems and find our own answers if we choose to do our own THINKing and ACTing!

We can’t leave the work, we must do, to someone else; we must take responsibility!

You Need to Think from the Outside Your Box

You may believe you have heard this before but this is different! If you are paying attention and THINKing about what you just read, you recognize the difference! Most of us are familiar with people saying “You must think outside the box.” What they mean is you need to look beyond the normal pool of answers for something new.

I disagree!

I believe you must stand outside your box and look in!

Inside your box you will find all the skills, abilities, education and experiences you have had and the stories telling how you used those personal attributes. The stories you find will help you better understand what you have given to customers and employers and what you have to give to your future customers and employers.

Inside Your Box You Will Find the Stories to Tell Your Referral Network

The idea is you want to look into the box to see all you have done throughout your career. You want to see the stories of how you applied your skills, abilities, education and experience. When you see the stories from your past; they will serve two purposes: 1) give you the stories you need as you describe to your referral network how you applied your skills, abilities, education and experience to solve problems and 2) help you to rebuild your self-confidence and self-esteem.

Additionally the process does one more thing; it gets you THINKing again. THINKing for many is not a regular practice and ACTing on those thoughts is even more foreign for most. However, THINKing and ACTing are two skills you must put to work, so you can get back to work!

Experiencing the “What If” Syndrome

If you are unemployed or under employed; I’m willing to wager that at some point in the past you have gone through the “what if” process. What if I could do what I want to do? What if I hadn’t been pushed into this or that career? What if I had followed that dream or idea? We have all had these thoughts and we have allowed them to fall to the ground; to go unrealized!

Yes, there are plenty of excuses: timing, finances, family obligations, lack of time, not knowing how to start, not being sure of what resources would be required, etc. Well it’s time to put the excuses behind you and move forward. You need to THINK and ACT; you cannot delay.

My THINKing Story

After 9/11/2001, like many, my business was turned upside down. The contract work I had been doing dried up. I had to do something, but I struggled trying to figure things out. The reason I struggled – I wasn’t THINKing! I wanted things to recover quickly and, as a result, I waited around for the recovery to occur. Guess what? It didn’t!

At this point I wasn’t suffering from the problem of looking to someone else for answers; I was simply sitting and waiting for things to happen. It doesn’t work that way; if you sit around and wait for things to happen; sure enough they will – it’s just the things which happen are not the things you want.

What you get are bills piling up, endless frustration, family issues, bill collectors calling, utility shut off notices and scrimping to buy food and gas.

Eventually I gathered myself together and started THINKing from outside my box. I looked at the current economic climate and the skills employers were desperately looking to add. Having worked for many years in the technology space I came to the conclusion I should position myself as an IT Security Specialist. To read the story of how I was able to re-craft myself check out My 9/11 Story.


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!