Tag Archive | "networking"

7 Face-To-Face Networking Mistakes That Could Kill Your Professional Image


Despite all the online ways to link up with potential clients, I still believe making in-person connections needs to be a part of every business owner’s networking regimen. When you’re face-to-face with people, you can form bonds more easily because they get a more complete picture of who you are through your voice, body language, and appearance, reports Forbes.

That’s powerful and wonderful … unless you get careless.

While face-to-face networking can result in prospects gravitating to you, it also holds the potential to drive them in the opposite direction. Could your networking habits be turning off other professionals and causing you to lose out on business opportunities?

Avoid these networking no-nos:

1. Interrupting conversations. “How rude!” That’s what I think when someone walks up without apology and interrupts a conversation I’m having with another person.  Although discussions won’t typically be too in-depth at networking events, it’s still in bad taste to cut off conversations between others.

2. Practicing the “hard sell.” Want a surefire way to make connections eager to avoid you? Then push your products and services right from the start when meeting them. Doing so makes you appear aggressive as well as desperate—definitely not the impression you want to make!

3. Complaining. Remember, you’re there to connect with other professionals. While commenting on the venue location, décor, hors d’oeuvres, or other amenities can help ease you into a dialogue with someone, it can have a negative impact if your words are uncomplimentary. Others might perceive you as snide and ungracious.

4. Being all “me, me, me” and not taking an interest in others. Sure, you’re doing great things and everyone should know more about that. But you’ll do yourself a greater service if you forgo making yourself the center of attention and instead listen to what others have to share about their businesses. By asking open-ended questions and turning a keen ear to their needs, you can assess whether or not they may be a viable prospect. And then later you can follow up to share more about what you can offer them.

5. Having a few too many cocktails. Woot! Yes, networking functions often come in the form of mixers with a bit of a party atmosphere. But I’ve seen otherwise polished professionals turn into hot messes because they didn’t control their alcohol consumption at events.

6. Speaking ill of someone else in the room or about your clients. No, no, no. Don’t EVER do this. You never know who knows whom. Need I say more?

7. Dressing like you don’t care. Although many networking events are relatively casual, take care not to go too far with the informality. If you’re not sure what the dress code is, I recommend erring on the side of slightly overdressed. Worst-case scenario will be that you look a tad more professional than everyone else. No one will think less of you for that.

Done with attention to making a first-rate first impression, face-to-face networking can open doors to lasting professional relationships. Put your best, most engaging you out there every time—and take care to avoid networking missteps that could turn off prospective customers.

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8 Tips to Help Grow Your Professional Network


Establishing a strong professional network can benefit your business several ways, from receiving feedback by bouncing ideas off successful entrepreneurs and business owners to opening doors that were once closed — building your professional network should be something you are always working on, reports the Huffington Post.

You have undoubtedly heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” right? I’m such a firm believer in building business connections and relationships that I decided to launch an online community that business owners and entrepreneurs can access 24/7 — EBOC launches July 15th and I’m excited to be able to provide a community that people can connect through.

The right connections can open doors with some amazing opportunities behind them, so here are eight tips to help you grow your professional network.

1. Make your presence noticeable.

You have to make sure people know what you are doing and what you have in the works — otherwise nobody will ever know. Keep in touch with your professional contacts via email, social media and face-to-face meetings.

When you maintain contact you remain on their radar, which can result in them name-dropping you to their contacts. A simple, “Oh, I actually know somebody you should contact” can occur simply because you kept your presence noticeable.

2. Attend networking events — online & offline.

Every industry has conferences and trade shows that provide great networking opportunities. There are also local meet-ups and local organizations that hold regular events that are great for building your network.

Many people forget that there are also plenty of networking opportunities online. LinkedIn groups are great and Twitter chats are becoming very popular these days. I personally love Twitter chats because they allow a huge group of people to participate regardless of their location.

3. Hang out at the same places the people you want to connect with hang out.

This applies to both online and offline — as mentioned above, LikedIn groups and Twitter chats are great places to connect. If you want to connect with a certain group online then participate and introduce yourself.

Offline this could be a particular lunch spot or a happy hour bar after work. Frequent the places that the people you want to connect with can be found at. Be friendly and social and you will make new connections.

4. Don’t always take — give as well.

When networking don’t always make it about you — make sure to share you knowledge and expertise and offer to help when you see an opportunity. Helping other people will often come back to you tenfold. Helping someone is going to give them extra incentive to return the favor.

Being a connector will also help your long-term networking — connecting two people you know who will benefit from knowing each other strengthens your network. The key takeaway: don’t be selfish and think of how you can help everyone you come in contact with.

5. Be a good listener.

When out networking don’t always try to dominate the conversation by talking about yourself – instead, listen to other people talk. First, people naturally love to talk about themselves, so if you can show that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say it will help to build that connection.

Also, by listening you can identify specific challenges someone may be having — and if you can help in any way or offer a suggestion it will help to strengthen the relationship.

6. Never be afraid to ask.

This one is short and sweet — if you want something you can’t be afraid to ask for it.

Want an introduction? Ask for it.

Want a meeting? Ask for it.

Want advice or feedback? Ask for it.

7. Always think about long-term relationships.

Making a connection and exchanging business cards is a foot in the door, but it’s long-term relationships that lead to business deals. Concentrate on forming long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial for both sides. Make a conscious effort to establish a two-way street for all of your professional connections.

8. Follow up with everyone you connect with.

Make sure that you follow up with every connection you make. If you come home with a few business cards make sure to take a few minutes the next morning and send an email letting the person know it was a pleasure to meet them. This is also a great time to let them know they should reach out to you in the event that you can ever help them in any way.

Also, if you promise to do something — do it. There is nothing worse than not following through with something you told someone you would do.

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The Best Way to Network on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn


First impressions are lasting impressions – even online. Networking is an essential aspect of business in person and through social media. Whether you know it or not, your clients and customers judge you on your website, blog and by what you post on social media sites, reported Entrepreneur.

Social networks including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are exceptional avenues to meet potential clients, customers and socialize with professional colleagues. Regardless of which social media sites you utilize, all will go a long way toward growing your professional network.

Here’s some advice on how to use each site:

Facebook
Facebook is an effective tool for those who wish to stay in touch with friends, family members and colleagues, but it’s also a great place to exchange ideas and share opinions. For example, whenever I need help solving an unusual etiquette dilemma, I pose a question on Facebook and my friends and followers happily give me their opinions.

Facebook is a great place to promote your professional brand. I use Facebook to post informative articles, follow trends, and connect with my audience on a more personal level. Photos are also strategic way to personalize your brand; however, keep in mind that anyone can view the pictures you post to Facebook. Similarly, exercise some restraint when you post updates to your wall. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t post on the front page of your local newspaper. Use discretion when you decide to share what you’re doing, thinking or feeling. Or adjust your privacy settings if you want to keep your posts or pictures private.

Twitter
Twitter is valuable because it allows you to tap into a community of people from around the world who share similar interests. Join the conversation and connect with people you know and whom you’d like to know. Look for opportunities to share your ideas, opinions and interests with people you respect professionally.

Twitter connects strangers and friends alike. For example, if you’re about to head off to an industry conference, search Twitter for the associated hashtag. Discover which of your colleagues will be there as well. Introduce yourself to new contacts you want to meet and reconnect with old acquaintances. Use the opportunity to coordinate when you’ll be able to meet with people for breakfast, coffee or dinner.

Drive traffic to your website through the promotion of your own content. Share advice, ask questions, and stay informed about trends in your industry. Re-tweet someone’s post if it’s informative, entertaining or relevant. Twitter is also a great social tool to introduce yourself to someone who might not otherwise follow you on Facebook or LinkedIn.

LinkedIn
You can profit immensely from the use of LinkedIn as a professional networking tool to grow your business. Update your profile with your career accomplishments, company information and education. Remember to keep your information up-to-date so your connections will be able to track your progress and support your accomplishments. LinkedIn is also a great place to share articles, join professional networking groups, and exchange ideas with others.

Connect with people you know and trust. Only endorse individuals you would refer to a client, colleague or friend. This will protect your reputation and grant credibility to the recommendations you make.

When you request a connection, write a personal note in lieu of the template greeting. Remind the person who you are and how you know each other. To make an introduction, write a note to each individual and explain why you think they should collaborate.

Bonus: Your website
The majority of people research companies and individuals online before they ever contact them. Though your website may not be as “social” as some of your social networking profiles, it’s just as critical. The best websites and blogs are timely, informative and entertaining.

To make the best impression, ensure your website reflects your business, industry and brand. The information you provide on your site should be credible and brand you as a reliable source. The more user-friendly the website, the easier it is for visitors to find what they need. Finally, keep your website up-to-date and include content that’s relevant to your customers.

Display your contact information — including your email address — prominently as well as links to your social media profiles. This will help you connect with potential customers and other professionals through multiple channels.

Finally, you know your social media efforts are working when a person says, “I feel like I know you even though we’ve never met in person.”

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5 Rules for Successful Networking


Networking. Everyone does it — but how do you really win at it? Although Woody Allen was credited with saying that “showing up is 80 percent of life,” it’s that final 20 percent that really makes the difference. That is, it’s about how you show up, reported FoxBusiness.

Whether it’s the overzealous networker who tries to give everyone his card but has no clear direction of what he’s doing, or the wallflower who doesn’t meet a single person even after showing up, so many people network incorrectly that it actually works against them. With that said, here are a few easy-to-use basics to help you win the networking game.

Meet People Through Other People

The best way to meet people is through referrals. Stick around people you already know who know the people you want to meet. By being introduced through them or joining their conversations, you’ll likely receive a warm introduction to the person you really want. You’ll see this same effect on LinkedIn through their online introduction tool, or through joining the right circle at an event with somebody you know.

It’s Not About You

Although you’re trying to meet a new partner, developer or customer, you’re not going to get ahead with that kind of attitude. This is because everybody else thinks the same way, which is why they’re at the event. It’s worthwhile to go against the grain instead. If you can’t connect for yourself, think about how you can make connections for others. Listen to what people’s needs are and try to make a connection for them, even if it doesn’t benefit you. They’ll remember you the next time around and reciprocate — that’s how you utilize the power of networking.

Get Out of Your League

Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and hang out with people out of your league. I went to private executive events before I was even an executive, and when I was half the age of others in the room. No matter who you are, you can find a way to relate to people as long as you’re confident, carry yourself well and are not trying to sell yourself.

Spending time with people who are a step ahead will push you to become better, whether it’s through the advice they offer or the level at which they operate.

Don’t Sell, But Have a Good Elevator Pitch

The worst networkers try to sell or otherwise push their needs onto others. Whether it’s someone looking for a job or selling their services, they rub people the wrong way. People don’t like to be sold to — they like to buy. In order to get them to want to buy into whatever it is you’re doing, or be interested in helping you, a relatable story or connection is a must. Strike up a conversation; it will make building a connection much easier and they are more likely to trust you. Do you have a common friend? Did you work at the same company? Find common ground early in the conversation.

And when they ask you what you do, make sure you have a short-and-sweet pitch to summarize yourself. This is called an elevator pitch, and should be 30 seconds or less. I always try to make sure it’s simple and relatable to everybody, but it does change from time to time depending on the audience. If I can construct my elevator pitch to be more relatable to a specific person, I’ll pitch it that way.

Make Them Come to You

Why go to networking events hoping to meet people when you can make them all come to you? Try holding a niche networking event around your industry that will attract the type of people you’re trying to meet. Everyone will either know or want to meet the host — you — and you can influence who will actually show up. It beats going to some random event hoping you meet the right people. Not to mention that you’re likely to have a lot of acquaintances there already, allowing you to more easily meet people through them.

For example, if you’re trying to meet potential customers for your new app that serves restaurant business owners, build an event around the grand opening of a new restaurant. Sponsor the event and invite people from the industry, offering them complimentary food and wine tastings. Think, if I were this person, what would make me want to go to the event? Build your event around that compelling need.

Conclusion

So there you have it: a few basic rules you can follow to win at networking. Remember, the goal is about building relationships — the network — and a good network will pay major returns in the form of new customers, partners and opportunities. Get out there and meet people, but make sure you’re meeting people the right way. And don’t forget that in networking, it’s that last 20 percent of effort that really counts.

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The 3 Deadly Sins of Networking


Via Entrepreneur

Despite all the information out there about effective networking, business owners continue to commit blunders in their efforts to get face-to-face with potential clients.

Entrepreneurs can be guilty of thinking of themselves first and the people they can potentially serve second. As the saying goes, “It’s not who you know but who wants to know you” that really counts.

Here are three serious mistakes to avoid:

1. Not making eye contact. The first common networking sin is constantly looking over the other person’s shoulder when you are having a conversation. This silently communicates to the person you are talking to that they are unimportant. Instead, focus intently. When you feel it’s time to move around the room and mingle with others, simply excuse yourself.

2. Forgetting the name of the person you have just met. This sets you up for embarrassment when someone else you know comes over and joins you, expecting to be introduced to the person with whom you are speaking.

Make it a point to remember the names of people that you meet. If you miss or forget them, excuse yourself and ask them to repeat it.

Motivational speaker and author Dale Carnegie was right when he said, “The sweetest, most important sound in any language is to that person the sound of his or her own name.” When you remember and use the name of the person you have met in your conversation with them, you will go a long way in building an effective relationship.

3. Showing up late or leaving early. This third and final deadly sin of networking gives the impression of someone who does not know how to plan their time.

People who do this always seem to be in a hurry and come across as pushy and only interested in talking about themselves — shoving one of their business cards into your hand before rushing off to meet somebody else.

My recommendation here is to schedule accordingly and spend quality time at the networking event in which you are investing your reputation and time.

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7 Tips for Networking


Networking goes hand in hand with running a successful business.

But many of us dread walking into a room and introducing ourselves to a bunch of strangers.

Here are the most valuable tips I’ve come across – and put to work myself – over the years:

1. Resist the urge to arrive late. It’s almost counter-intuitive, but showing up early at a networking event is a much better strategy than getting there on the later side. As a first attendee, you’ll notice that it’s calmer and quieter – and people won’t have settled into groups yet. It’s easier to find other people who don’t have conversation partners yet.

2. Ask easy questions. Don’t wait around the edges of the room, waiting for someone to approach you. To get the conversation started, simply walk up to a person or a group, and say, “May I join you” or “What brings you to this event?” Don’t forget to listen intently to their replies. If you’re not a natural extrovert, you’re probably a very good listener – and listening can be an excellent way to get to know a person.

3. Ditch the sales pitch. Remember, networking is all about relationship building. Keep your exchange fun, light and informal – you don’t need to do the hard sell within minutes of meeting a person. The idea is to get the conversation started. People are more apt to do business with – or partner with – people whose company they enjoy.

If a potential customer does ask you about your product or service, be ready with an easy description of your company. Before the event, create a mental list of recent accomplishments, such as a new client you’ve landed or project you’ve completed. That way, you can easily pull an item off that list and into the conversation.

4. Share your passion. Win people over with your enthusiasm for your product or service. Leave a lasting impression by telling a story about why you were inspired to create your company. Talking about what you enjoy is often contagious, too. When you get other people to share their passion, it creates a memorable two-way conversation.

5. Smile. It’s a simple – but often overlooked – rule of engagement. By smiling, you’ll put your nervous self at ease, and you’ll also come across as warm and inviting to others. Remember to smile before you enter the room, or before you start your next conversation. And if you’re really dreading the event? Check the negative attitude at the door.

6. Don’t hijack the conversation. Some people who dislike networking may overcompensate by commandeering the discussion. Don’t forget: The most successful networkers (think of those you’ve met) are good at making other people feel special. Look people in the eye, repeat their name, listen to what they have to say, and suggest topics that are easy to discuss. Be a conversationalist, not a talker.

7. Remember to follow up. It’s often said that networking is where the conversation begins, not ends. If you’ve had a great exchange, ask your conversation partner the best way to stay in touch. Some people like email or phone; others prefer social networks like LinkedIn. Get in touch within 48 hours of the event to show you’re interested and available, and reference something you discussed, so your contact remembers you.

This article was written by Colleen DeBaise and published in Entrepreneur magazine.

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