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Networking

Via CNBC : Networking is pointless — unless you follow this important rule, relationship expert says

Networking. For some it’s a pleasure, for others it’s a chore, but for the vast majority it’s a total waste of time.

That’s because far too many of us ignore the most important part — the follow-up.

In fact, according to relationship strategist Zvi Band, those initial networking events are a pointless exercise if you don’t see them as part of a longer, more strategic relationship building process.

“People going to networking events are seeking the same outcome as you — to meet people,” Band told CNBC Make It.

“But remember, the hard work is not in the initial meeting or LinkedIn connection. It’s recording your notes, following through on any action items, and keeping that relationship warm.”

Relationships are our most important asset, including in achieving our career goals, Band argues in his new book “Success Is in Your Sphere: Leverage the Power of Relationships to Achieve Your Business Goals.” But too few of us pay the necessary attention to building and maintaining those relationships in our professional lives, he said.

Band is far from the first person to highlight the value of strong relationships in business success. Ever since Dale Carnegie published his seminal self-help book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” in 1936, business legends like Warren Buffett have espoused the role of relationships and reputation in their careers.

However, as technology disrupts the workplace, those human relationship will become more important than ever, said Band. That’s especially true for young professionals, who may not know where their careers are going and would benefit from a network of contacts, he said.

“The overwhelming majority of professionals … attribute their relationships to be their best asset.” – Zvi Band, CEO, CONTACTUALLY

It’s therefore important to follow a strategy for building and maintaining professional relationships long after the first meeting. Band said that can be broken down into a seven-step process that views relationships as “capital.”

“The overwhelming majority of professionals who have reached the zenith of their potential often attribute their relationships to be their best asset,” said Band, who is CEO and founder of relationship building software platform Contactually.

“Just like the dollars in your bank account, the more you pay attention to retain and grow that asset early on, the more you will be able to reap the rewards later on in your career.”

Here are the seven steps to building relationship capital:

Consistent execution

The first step in building meaningful professional relationships is to make it a consistent part of your work routine, said Band. That could be as a simple as blocking out an hour each day or week to touch base with contacts, send them an email or comment on their post.

As with any other process, it may take time to stick, Band noted. But there are plenty of hacks to cement the habit, such as setting an alarm, associating the task with something else you do — like checking your emails in the morning — and rewarding yourself once the task is done.

Aggregate

Compiling all your contacts into one, clean database will help speed up that process, said Band. Networking sites like LinkedIn are useful for connecting with people initially, but something as basic as an Excel spreadsheet may be the right tool for keeping everything in one place.

Ensure that the database is relevant by updating it every month or so, said Band. However, don’t be tempted to write contacts off, he warned — you never know when they may become relevant again. Instead, archive those you have a high confidence you won’t work with again.

Prioritize

Some of the contacts in your database will be more important than others. Based on your overall career goals, group them into buckets that reflect those aims and prioritize them according to their urgency.

Don’t overshoot though, said Band. The average person can manage a network of 15 close friends and family, followed by 50 casual friends and a further 150 acquaintances. Your list should mirror that — highlighting, for instance, 10 high priority contacts and 20 secondary level ones — and set out reasonable time frames to follow up with each.

Investigate

Building relationships is all about knowing — and caring — about the other person, noted Band. Take the time to take notes about your contacts, such as where you met, their skills and their interests, and add these to your database to help jog your memory next time you interact.

Sites like LinkedIn and Twitter can be useful tools for building that knowledge bank and keeping up with your contacts’ important milestones, he said.

Timely engagement

There are no set rules for how frequently you should engage with your network. Rather, you should think about the time you have available and the relative return on investment of each interaction, said Band.

However, being thoughtful about how and when you engage with others — and showing consideration for both their time and your own — will pay dividends, he added.

Adding value

When you do follow-up with your contacts, make sure you add value by sharing information, contacts and ideas that may be useful to them, said Band. Few things will irritate your network more quickly than a stream of empty “hello” messages — or, worse still, continuous requests.

Leverage

Finally, use technology, templates and other easily replicable methods wherever you can to ease your workload and make interacting with your network as pain free, and even enjoyable, as possible, said Band.

Via Forbes : The Networking Advice No One Tells You

We’ve all heard the advice that networking is important for our careers. And regardless of your profession, your industry or demographic, the message is loud and clear. If you want to be successful, you need to spend time networking. It’s great advice. But the critical missing piece to this advice is exactly how to network.

There’s an old adage that if you throw spaghetti against the wall and it sticks, the pasta is done. Over the years, this phrase has evolved to mean that when you throw enough activity or ideas at a situation or problem, eventually something will stick; eventually you will find the answer. So when we’re told we need to network to help us be successful, those of us who are ambitious, tackle the problem with this approach. We throw a lot of activity at the issue and hope for the best. We go to lots of networking events and conferences, collect and hand out hundreds of business cards. We establish an online presence and build a large group of followers. Unfortunately, this doesn’t result in the type of network that supports our career advancement. It has no purpose or intention.

It takes a village to have a successful career; people who provide you with information, connect you to others, help you get your job done, advocate for you, mentor, guide, and sponsor you. And to build this type of network, your networking activity needs to be strategic. To create the type of network that supports your ambition, your efforts must be intentional and purposeful.

What holds you back?

Your mindset. The first thing that prevents us from building a strategic network is our mindset that networking is self-serving. And when we believe that any attempt to establish relationships is only for our benefit, we are less inclined to pursue these conversations. “It’s all about me and I’m uncomfortable asking for help.” A strong network, however, is built with mutually beneficial relationships; where both parties benefit. In the process of getting to know someone, you understand how you can add value and help them, and they are then willing to help you.

You limit your network. Our comfort level is to network with people we know and like; people with similar backgrounds and points of view. Research shows us that this type of closed network, limits our exposure to people who can offer new connections and ideas.

You aren’t strategic. We use the ‘spaghetti against the wall’ approach and don’t build a network focused on our career goal and ambition. We spend our time meeting random people and hope that this effort will deliver an important contact over time.

You aren’t proactive. We wait until we need help for a new job or assistance selling a new concept or idea. We wait until we have a need and then discover that we no longer have much of a support network. We haven’t reached out to our contacts or nurtured the relationships and now we feel uncomfortable asking for help.

You don’t schedule time to network. I hear the excuse that there’s no time to network from many women. They can’t go out for drinks or attend networking events after work most nights. My answer is to schedule time on your weekly calendar for a coffee or lunch and then reach out to people to meet you during the work day. Be strategic about which evening events are worthwhile for you and try going to one or two meetings to assess if that organization is one that will expose you to new people.

You don’t leverage relationships. We meet a lot of people and take their business cards and have an initial conversation but never follow up. The result is that we don’t have real relationships. We don’t know these people and they don’t know us. Be strategic about your connections and take the time to get to know people with the potential for mutually beneficial relationships.

How do you create a strategic network?

Start with your career goal. What are you hoping to achieve in the next 3-5 years? Then ask yourself, who do you know and who do you need to know to help you reach that goal.

Understand your value proposition. How does your work contribute to positive business outcomes? This value proposition positions you as credible and helps you build influence. Your value proposition helps you create mutually beneficial relationships because you understand how you can help others. Once you get how you can help others, you eliminate the limiting belief that your networking activity is self-serving.

Build mutually beneficial relationships. As you meet people, ask them open-ended questions about their work. What are they working on? What are some of their current challenges? If there an opportunity for you to help by connecting them to a resource or guide them based on your value proposition and/or experience? This is how you create strong relationships.

Find allies and champions. A strong network supports and advocates for you. It helps you sell your ideas across the organization, promotes you for new opportunities. Once you make connections and offer to help others achieve their goals, your contacts will respond in kind when you have a need.

Be strategic. Be thoughtful about who is in your network and the best way to connect with these people. Spend your time wisely by focusing on these relationships and nurturing them over time. Be deliberate about what organizations and events you attend to help you connect with potential contacts. And take action!

Via The Ladders : Here’s how to get more out of networking events

Buy tickets to a networking event. Get there, buckled up for a cookie-cutter experience of going from one panel to the next. Only talk to other attendees during breaks and cocktail receptions, then rush to the next session.

Instead of doing the same thing you always do, we’d like to call your attention to a piece Humanyze CEO and co-founder and MIT Media Lab visiting scientist Ben Waber, PhD wrote for Quartz at Work about his approach to networking.

Unimpressed by a Fortune 100 CEO’s talk that he was looking forward to at a conference, he had a conversation with someone feeling the same way afterward — someone, as it turns out, who became a future client.

Waber notes that the chance to connect with and be of service to others who are “like-minded” is the most crucial part of these events, as opposed to the content. Then he writes that at another conference, which was wasn’t as long ago, he spent 12 hours going to talks all around the area, taking a small shuttle to each location. He decided to talk to a fellow rider every time.

So the following day, he just rode around instead of going to talks — and met dozens of people, some of whom have helped his career.

With Waber’s example in mind, here are some strategies could help you stand out for all the right reasons when everyone is trying to make a name for themselves at conferences and networking events.

Take a page out of Waber’s book

Yes, we know: You’re most likely paying good money to learn from the featured panelists at conferences, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more innovative approaches for getting what you want from the total experience.

So do as Waber says he did, and have the guts to say “no” to talks, so you can spend more time getting to know other attendees instead.

“As you go to conferences, try to create these opportunities for yourself. Skip a speaker session and instead resolve to talk to one new person every 15 minutes,” Waber writes. “Hang out by the coffee pot and strike up a conversation. While you can’t be assured that every one of these conversations will be useful to you both, chances are it’ll be more valuable than going to a talk that you’ll forget in a few weeks.”

Reach out on social media beforehand

I tried this once and it really worked in my favor.

One summer, just before attending a conference for my four-summer internship program at CNBC through The Emma Bowen Foundation, I reached out via Twitter to speakers on the roster.

While asking a question at the microphone during a panel with a CNBC media personality I reached out to, I introduced myself to her, and she announced that she’d remembered me from Twitter.

We’d never met, so I gave her my business card afterward during our conversation, and I’ve considered her a mentor ever since. I shadowed her in the field on multiple occasions during my internships at CNBC, and we still keep in contact.

Use a compliment as an icebreaker — but mean it

This just might break you out of your comfort zone.

U.S. News & World Report staff writer Laura McMullen features icebreakers from Michelle Tillis Lederman, author of “The 11 Laws of Likability” and CEO of the professional development firm Executive Essentials, among others, in the publication.

One of them is “great shoes!”

“If you notice something you admire about these new contacts … tell them! (Who doesn’t like receiving a compliment?),” McMullen writes.

Via Huffington Post : How To Network: A Guide For Introverts

For those who can’t imagine anything worse.

Even for the most confident workers, networking can be a daunting prospect. And if you’re an introvert, it can be downright terrifying.

But unfortunately, in many fields, networking is a necessary evil. You’re not going to make new contacts or meet new people from the safety of your cubicle.

So how can you survive the intimidating prospect of walking into a room of people you don’t know (without burying your face in your phone the whole time) and network successfully?

HuffPost Australia spoke to Janine Garner, CEO, networking specialist and author of ‘It’s Who You Know’ to find out.

HP: What do you think it is about networking that people hate so much?

Janine Garner: “We hate networking because we have made it so hard — we are overwhelmed with the choices available to network, it’s becoming complicated with how, what and where, we are all stretched for time and given the superficial nature of most networking (insert business card swapping fest) we are over it and questioning the real purpose behind it.”

What makes someone successful at networking?

JG: “Those that are successful at networking quite simply care. They care about the other person first and foremost, their success and what help they need.

“They engage deeply in conversation, are always curious about how they can help and make a point of following up and following through on any promises they make.

“Successful networkers understand that building relationships requires an investment of time, energy and interest and that it is a long game.”

What are the most common struggles people have with networking?

JG: “The most common struggles people have revolve all around themselves and being in their own head — ‘I’m an introvert, I’m nervous, what do I say, how do I make sure I am interesting, what if I need to leave the conversation?’

“The obsession with self gets in the way. I suggest people have to get out of their own way and instead focus intently on the person they are speaking to, listen deeply to understand and concentrate on being present.

“And if you err on the introversion side follow your energy — the worse thing you can do as an introvert is go to an event with thousands of people — instead organise a lunch of six people or a coffee date — that’s networking. And if you have to go to that big event plan your exit time and be okay with having a deep conversation with one or two people.

What is the first thing you should do when you enter a networking event?

JG: “For me its about preparation — why are the attending the event, who else is going, who would you like to meet? When you enter the event start connecting straight away — say hi to the person at the check-in, take a deep breath and say hi to the first person you meet — quite simply start the conversation.

“And if you are worrying about what to say, ask them questions first to get them talking so you can ultimately find some common ground. Some great opening questions could be ‘What brought you here today?’ ‘What is the biggest challenge you are facing right now in your business?’ ‘That sounds interesting tell me more’.”

Any tips on how to introduce yourself/infiltrate a group of people who are already talking?

JG: “Take a big deep breath, approach and simply say ‘Hi my name is xxx, I’m here on my own today is it okay to join in your conversation.’

What are the biggest networking no-nos?

JG: “We all hate those rubber-neckers — you know the ones — the ones that are talking to you, but not really listening, their eyes are looking around searching out who else is in the room that may be more interesting, more important or more influential.

“The biggest no-no is not to be present in that moment. Focus on who you are speaking with, be interested in what they are saying and remove all distractions.”

What should you do if the conversation is stilted/awkward?

JG: “If the conversation is stilted and not going anywhere quite simply remove yourself from the conversation. You are at a networking function for a reason — it’s to meet people.

“Excuse yourself by going to get a drink or a trip to the bathroom. And its okay to explain that you came to this event to meet some new people, say it’s been lovely to meet you and excuse yourself politely so you can go and meet some other people.”

Do people still hand out their business cards or is that not done any more?

JG: “Some do, some don’t. Networking isn’t about handing out business cards — it’s about meeting people, connecting and sharing. LinkedIn is the worlds biggest rolodex!”

Any other tips you might have?

JG: “Networking is a choice — you can either choose to be superficial in your approach and realise the opportunity that exists when you build relationships through listening carefully and engaging in conversation.

“Time is our scarcest resource and therefore invest your time wisely building a network that works that will stretch your thinking, develop your mastery and open doors to new opportunities. Networking matters, but it’s the network of you that you develop that matters more.”

Via Huffington Post : Eight Ways You Can Determine Which Networking Invitations to Accept

Regardless of where you are in your career, networking is something you need to keep in mind. When you’re first starting out, you want to get in touch with a good number of different people and groups in order to establish connections and help each other out where you can. Later in your career, networking is an excellent opportunity to give back, helping people starting out get their feet wet and in touch with mentors or peers. As you get more settled in business, you may find that you get more networking event invitations than you know what to do with. Some are from people within your wider network, while others are for public events seeking to draw a diverse crowd.

You only have so much time and resources to dedicate to events, so how do you determine which invitations to accept, and which to politely decline? Members from Young Entrepreneur Council suggest the following:

A. Determine If It’s Mutually Beneficial
I try to do quick research on the opportunity. Is it a person or group I might be able to conduct business with or learn from? Do I have experience that might benefit them or the group? If so, then I consider it. If I don’t see an immediate benefit for either party, I move on, or table for later. While I believe in growing a large network of connections, being focused wins. – Shawn Schulze, CallerCenter.com

A. Know When to Decline
We honestly get hundreds of recommendations and networking invitations every month. While many of them are great, one of the best ways to weed out the good from the bad is to choose ones that you know are attended or recommended by other friends, partners or experts within your industry. Networking and time are always going to be important, but knowing when to say no is also key. – Zac Johnson, Blogger

A. Only Accept Leveraged Invites
Endless meet-ups without strategic focus will kill your business. I’ve made that mistake by accepting coffee meetings and party invites without a strategic agenda. After wasting thousands of dollars, I now only accept leveraged invites. This means there is an agenda with real focus where either I can give back or my company can scale as a direct result of the connection. – Klyn Elsbury, Landmark Makers

A. Try the ‘Today’ Test
It’s often easy to accept networking events that are weeks away when your calendar is open. For every event invitation that you receive, ask yourself, “If this event was today, would I attend, assuming that I was available?” If the answer is yes, it’s probably beneficial. If you have higher priorities today than to attend, there’s a good chance you’ll feel the same way when that event rolls around. – Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli Inc.

A. Favor Curated Networking Events
I tend to accept invites where the host has thoughtfully curated who will be at the event. When the host has put thought into making sure guests will connect in a meaningful way, I end up making a few key connections, as opposed to bigger events, where it is harder to find connections that will resonate, because it’s too easy to get lost in the crowd. – Diana Goodwin, AquaMobile

A. Look for Natural Networking
To keep myself effective and genuine, I try to focus on events where networking seems like it will come naturally. Often this means focusing on personalized invitations to small gatherings in the community, rather than attending larger conferences and events, where hundreds of unconnected entrepreneurs will be. – Peggy Shell, Creative Alignments

A. Pay Attention to How They Reached Out to You
It is very easy to spot the canned invitations to connect. LinkedIn is the king of unwanted, canned invitations. Instead, look for people who go out of their way to make a connection with you. Typically they will do it in less-common platforms such as Snapchat or Instagram, maybe even by email. If someone truly cares to connect with you, they will go out of their way to do so. – Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

A. Remember: A Good Fit is Crucial
Finding events or masterminds that fit you and your business are key. Business and personal needs vary drastically from person to person. Strive to match yourself with equal or slightly higher caliber attendees. This ensures you continue to grow and network with those that can provide value. Find reviews or a past attendee list and compare yourself. Will you fit in? If so, then give it a try! – Kyle Goguen, Pawstruck

These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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