Fundamentals of Professional Networking – Part 1


Fundamentals of Professional Networking – Part 1

This is the first in a series on the Fundamentals of Networking.

Networking Definition

Networking is the process of connecting with individuals with whom you can have a mutually beneficial relationship.

Networking Strategy

Before doing anything else pertaining to your network you must have a networking strategy. To figure this out you must be able to answer the following questions:

  • Who do you want in your network?
  • Why do you want these individuals in your network?
  • What value do you expect to give your connections?
  • What value do you expect your connections to bring?
  • Where will you find your connections? and
  • How much time are you willing to commit to your network?

Having a strategy is key to developing a mutually beneficial network where there is an equal exchange of value.

Who Do You Want in Your Network?

When we speak of who; we could be talking about specific individuals, jobs or positions, the company or companies where they work or the connections they have. Your reason may be one of these or something totally different. The point is you need to know the answer to have an effective networking strategy.

Personally I am building a network of people who have been temporary employees. I’m not looking for recruiters or those working directly for the temporary agency; I want the individuals who have been the contractors on the front lines of work as part of my network. As you can see I am very specific when it comes to this network and it makes my process of connecting very easy. If you are a temporary or contract employee connect with me here

Why Do you Want These Individuals in Your Network?

What is your reason for wanting to connect with these individuals? You may want people, but you need to really be focused as to why you want them in your network. It would be very difficult to convince someone to join you when you don’t know why you want them to join.

Going back to my network of temporary employees my reason is I believe we have experiences to share which will be mutually beneficial. I want to hear their stories and share mine. The number of temporary employees is on the rise and there are no current outlets for temporary employees to share and learn.

What Value Do You Have to Offer Your Connections?

This doesn’t mean monetary value, although it could. What it means is networking value which could be a large network of your own to share, valuable insight and knowledge, perspective, willingness to share what is shared with you, support, admiration or any number of other things the connection you want would see as a benefit to them.

With the temporary employees I have 15 years’ experience as a temporary employee working with several different firms and for myself. I’ve learned a great deal about negotiation initial hourly rates and negotiating increases in my hourly rate. Many temporary employees are unaware they can get raises or negotiate; I feel I can assist in their understanding.

What Value Do You Expect Your Connections to Bring?

Again we aren’t necessarily talking about monetary value, but there could be opportunities to monetize. What is being discussed is what connections, experience, knowledge, stories or other information which might be helpful might they bring and be willing to share.

With the temporary employees I want to hear their experiences and find out what they have learned about being a temporary employee and working for a temporary agency.

Where Will You Find Your Connections?

When you know who you want, why you want them, what you have to offer, and what you expect of them; you can start your search. Whether you use LinkedIn, web searches, Facebook or whatever you have a set of criteria which can help you be specific with your search.

For my temporary employees I can search for individuals who have worked as contractors for specific temporary agencies. My strategy makes it very easy to build a search criteria.

How Much Time Are You Willing to Commit to Your Network?

The last question is what time are you willing to commit to not only building, but nurturing your network? Effective networking takes time and effort. It’s not a 40 hour job by any stretch, but it may be 15 minutes to an hour each day depending upon your goals and objectives.

With my temporary employees I will easily spend a couple of hours each day identifying the people I want in my network, sending invitations, thanking them for joining and communicating with them. My network is important to me and hopefully to them.

This is the first article in the series be watching for more and please give me some feedback below.

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Tom Staskiewicz writes on employment issues and has a special interest in temporary work. With over 15 years experience as a temporary employee working for multiple agencies and businesses he has a great perspective on what it takes to be successful as a temp. He has negotiated better starting pay and periodic raises for himself and others as temporary employees.

Check out the website Temporary Employees for more ideas and to sign up for his Temporary Employee Newsletter and his website on Networking.

Your Network – Are You A Collector or a CONNECTOR?


Networking is more than a collection of names and addresses.

Sadly most people feel that they are networking when they simply add someone to their list of contacts or connections. This is not connecting; this is collecting. If that is your intent then your time would be better spent collecting coins, stamps, sports cards, or some other true collectible. There is much more satisfaction to be gained spending your time in this manner!

Today’s Social Media tools allow you the opportunity to easily go beyond the mere process of collecting. If you are not taking advantage of these tools; the only difference between collecting business cards and shoving them into a drawer, a card file, or a Rolodex is your storage media.

True Networkers Understand that Networking Is More then Collecting

True networkers understand and value relationships. They recognize that there are different levels of relationships and that all relationships start out as a simple connection. They also realize that the depth of a relationship develops over time.

True networkers understand that networking is a give and take process and an exchange of value. Networking is not the act of accumulating names in the event that you may need something in the future. True networking means that you are intent upon offering value to your network hopefully in exchange for value being returned; value that may be received now or sometime in the future. The when is not important!

How to Move from Collector to Connector

If you are involved in any Social Media the process of providing value is simple and does not require large amounts of time. Here are examples of easy ways to provide value:

  • Share articles you find interesting;
  • Provide relevant comment on posts made by members of your network;
  • Like posts made by members of your network;
  • Thank people that invite you into their network;
  • Thank your new connections when they accept your invitation to network;
  • Add new people to your network; which indirectly expands the networks of your connections;
  • Share your expertise when members of your network have questions;
  • Congratulate members of your network when they receive promotions or accept a new job;
  • Comment on the status updates of your connections; or
  • Help your connections make new connections.

In my unscientific observations I find that the simple act of being grateful and thanking someone for connecting sets you apart from over 97% and more likely 99% of the networking population!

The truth is that most people feel that simply accepting or making a connection validates their networking but that’s not true. That is just a start to the relationship; if you want to be a successful networker you must be reaching out and adding value to the relationship.

Conclusion

If you want to be an effective networker; don’t get caught up in this idea that by having a large number of connections will somehow make you a great networker. It doesn’t! A great networker is someone that regularly adds value to their network and cares about their connections.

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Do you approach things with an UPPROACH? With the idea that when you make a change; it shouldn’t just be a change – rather it should be a change for the better. This was the premise that caused UPPROACH to be born. The idea of don’t just do it; do it better!

Tom Staskiewicz speaks, coaches, and consults on Professional and Business Networking and how Social Media is a tool in that process. He helps businesses, organizations, and individuals understand the power of networking and recognize that networking is a tool for giving.

Tom believes that when you give value to your network; your network will give value back to you. Using today’s Social Media tools makes Professional and Business Networking more efficient, improves decisions, and enables you to respond more effectively to your audiences.

Do you want to be more effective with your Professional and Business Networking? Would you like to be making more “warm” contacts instead of “cold” calls? Contact Tom to learn more about how he can help you and/or your organization reach your networking goals.

Small Networks Equal Small Opportunities


Mary, Mary Quite Contrary How Does Your Network Grow?

Yes, I took a little literary license with the children’s rhyme; but, if you are a networker, the question is relevant. How does your network grow? Is it even growing?

Small Networks Limit Your Opportunities

Many people intentionally keep their networks small for a variety of, what I consider, irrational reasons. What they fail to recognize is small networks limit opportunities.

One frequent reason I hear is they only want “people that they “know well” in their network.

In fact LinkedIn is a culprit in fostering this idea. LinkedIn tells you that you should only invite people that you know well. While at the same time LinkedIn encourages you to subscribe to a premium service that allows you to easily connect with those you do not know. To me this is a contradictory and a disservice to their users!

The idea of only connecting with those that you know well is a self-limiting mentality.

When your network consists primarily of people that you “know well” you are surrounding yourself with people that essentially know all the same things that you know.

Small networks limit the influx of new:

  1. Ideas;
  2. Thoughts; and most importantly
  3. Opportunities.

Small Networks Cause Personal Stagnation

When you have a small network comprised of people that you “know well” you keep new ideas and opportunities out. When you cannot grow with new ideas and opportunities your only option is to stagnate.

Stagnation Makes You Less Desirable

Stagnation makes you unattractive to potential employers, business partners, and even customers. In today’s world connections are critical. Employers and business partners look for connections because they are key to growth. Some businesses are now looking at the number of connections prospective employees will bring and making hiring decisions based upon these numbers.

Is Your Network Growing?

Have you added connections from your current work, your associations, your volunteer activities, and your previous work experiences? Do you look for opportunities to continually grow your network?

Growing your network is a critical activity that requires daily effort; not massive time, just 15 – 30 minutes each day.

Conclusion

If you are not looking for opportunities; if you do not want personal growth; if you are not interested in being a thought influencer; then by all means keep your network small. On the hand if you do want these things and you are not good at networking; it is time for change.
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Tom Staskiewicz speaks and coaches on Professional and Business Networking and how Social Media is a tool in that process. He helps businesses, organizations, and individuals understand the power of networking and recognize that networking is a tool for giving.

Tom believes that when you give value to your network; your network will give value back to you. Using today’s Social Media tools makes Professional and Business Networking more efficient, improves decisions, and enables you to respond more effectively to your audiences.

Do you want to be more effective with your Professional and Business Networking? Would you like to be making more “warm” contacts instead of “cold” calls? Contact Tom to learn more about how he can help you and/or your organization reach your networking goals.

Putting Power into Your Reviews and Testimonials


Negating the Negatives

Negative Internet Reviews

If you are like many businesses today you have experienced the negative review on Google, CitySearch, Yelp, or a plethora of other sites. In the process you have most likely noticed that these reviews hide behind an alias. The reality is that they, the reviewers, are cowards or even worse competitors.

To top it off Google, CitySearch, and the others make it difficult and costly to respond. This may be a good thing, because your immediate response would be a “knee-jerk” reaction and probably end up hurting your more than helping. You must remember that you are in the age of the Internet and the person who wrote the review will NOT be the only one reading your response. In your attempt to respond you may end up hurting future business from the eves droppers.

What Do You Do

One of the best ways to counteract a negative review is to get a good review; but not just any good review. Get one where the individual writing the review is willing to give their name and their city and state. You want credibility behind the review!

Get Credible Reviews

When you have credible reviews and someone points to Google, CitySearch, or whomever and it is a review that hides behind an alias; you can point to your reviews (good, just okay, or even bad) and say that YOUR reviews have quality. You can say that these are people you can talk to and they will answer your questions honestly. These are people that have nothing to hide.

You can, with the writer’s permission, use these reviews in your marketing and sales materials as testimonials of the work that you do and they way your customers/clients/patients feel about you, your business, your products, and your services.

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Tom Staskiewicz speaks and coaches on Social Media/Social Networking topics helping businesses, organizations, and individuals establish and manage their Social Media presence. Your Social Media presence doesn’t just happen and will not take care of itself. Tom helps you with those processes so your Social Media efforts will work for you.

What Are Your 2011 Networking Goals?


It Is That Time of Year Again

We may reflect on the goals we set for 2010 and we are going to make our 2011 New Year’s resolutions for many aspects of our life. Another year has passed and it is time to ask not only whether you achieved your networking goals for 2010, but did you even have networking goals in 2010? Or were you like most people and just left the process to fate?

It's Time to Make Your Networking Resolution

I’m afraid that far too many left it to fate and fate did not shine kindly upon their efforts. Networking is a process that requires goals and a strategy. Without these two components your networking has no focus. Without a focus it is difficult to find a reason to network and most end up not networking or they end up connecting simply because they want something.

 

Networking Is More than Seeing Who Can Give You What

I recently wrote another article on networking and one of the responses that I received raised the issue that people only network with their own needs in mind. I think this is true, but not for the reason that others may believe. To me the issue is that we were never trained in the art of networking and therefore do not know what to do or how to network properly.

Networking is a give and take activity and it starts with the give portion. When you network it should be a win-win situation for both parties. If only one person is a winner; that is not networking. If you enter a networking situation with only your interests in mind; you will not be successful engaging the other person or at least not for the long-term.

Your 2011 Goals

For 2011 it is time to try something new: networking with a purpose. Having goals and a purpose as part of your networking allows you to monitor and measure your progress.

  1. What is your purpose for networking?
  2. What do you want to accomplish with your networking efforts?
  3. What is the value that you bring to the relationship?
  4. Who do you want in your network and why?
  5. How are you going to communicate with your network and what is the frequency of those communications?

For more ideas check out our free report to learn more about Networking with a Purpose.

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Tom Staskiewicz is a Social Media/Social Networking Coach helping businesses, organizations, and individuals to establish and manage their Social Media presence. Your Social Media presence doesn’t just happen and will not take care of itself. Tom helps you with those processes so your Social Media efforts will work for you.

Your Fan Page Needs Your Friends


Do My Fans Need to Know I Administer the Facebook Fan Page

Here’s the deal. You created a Fan or business page under your personal profile; that makes you the administrator of the page. Unless you post something on the Fan Page that gives it away as to who you are; your Fans cannot tell.

Two Steps to Better Hide Your Identity

If you are still worried the best way to hide the details about yourself is through the security settings on your personal profile. What you want to do is manage the information that you want to share with everyone, your friends, and your friend’s friends.

The other protection is deciding who you will accept as a friend. You can control this and if there are people that you do not want to have access to your personal information do not send a friend request or accept a friend request from them.

You can also classify your friends using the FB “list” process and create lists and then assign your friends. When you post you have the option to select the lists that you want to see the post you are leaving. That provides an additional method of restricting who sees what content.

Why You WANT the Two Connected

The last thing is that your business reputation and brand come for most of us from our personal reputation. What role does your personal reputation play in your business and how much do you count on your friends for referrals. The more restrictive you are the fewer the referrals you will receive.

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Tom Staskiewicz is a Social Media/Social Networking Coach helping businesses, organizations, and individuals to establish and manage their Social Media presence. Your Social Media presence doesn’t just happen and will not take care of itself. Tom helps you with those processes so your Social Media efforts will work for you.