6 Helpful Networking Tips

6 Helpful Networking Tips

For some, the word “networking” can bring on an immediate wave of anxiety and fear. When you’re at an event filled with various employers and job seekers, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Those who consider themselves introverts may struggle in these situations since introverts work better in smaller settings. Introverts often get mistaken for being shy, but shyness is whole different quality altogether. Shy people have a tendency to fear the judgment of others and therefore be socially awkward. Extroverts tend to be the life of the party, but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect networkers either. According to etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore, people of all three personality types can learn a thing or two about networking. Here are a few tips you can follow to improve your networking skills:

1) Set a time limit.

The idea of staying the duration of an event can be intimidating to some. But the truth is, you don’t have to stay the entire time. What’s more, you may do better if you set a time limit for yourself. Tell yourself that you’ll only go the event for one hour, or another chunk of time that you’re okay with. This way, you will take the pressure off of yourself and just go to the event. When you show up to an event, there are endless possibilities of who you are going to meet, who you are going to run into, and how it is going to help your professional and personal life.

2) Keep your expectations in check.

You should definitely go to any event that you can attend, but you don’t have to pressure yourself into meeting a lot of people. You can often make great connections just by speaking to one or two people. It is not about how many conversations you have, but about the quality of those conversations.

3) Ask for an introduction.

This tip can be helpful regardless of your personality type. Find a person who knows everyone, perhaps the person hosting the event, and ask this person to connect you with whomever it is you want to meet. The person you are being introduced to will see you differently if someone with authority is introducing you to them rather than if you go up to them and introduce yourself.

4) Tell personal stories.

We often get the idea that we shouldn’t talk about anything personal in professional settings. While of course there are some topics that are too private for a networking setting, adding a personal story to your conversation can make you memorable and interesting.

5) Listening empathetically.

When you ask someone a question, listen to them with the intent of understanding them and establishing a connection. If you form a connection with someone, that person is more likely to remember you.

6) Practice networking every day.

Like any other skill, networking gets easier the more you do it. You need to keep practicing networking skills in order to maintain them. You can do this during the course of every work day by walking around the office and starting brief conversations with co-workers. It’s easy to stay in networking practice each and every day just by asking people how their weekends were and making other small talk.

Networking is a challenging skill that only comes with time. With these helpful tips, you can learn where to start.

7 Lessons For Young Entrepreneurs

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Starting a business is hard, and the difficulties often are compounded when you’re a young person beginning the entrepreneurial journey. There are many moving parts and resources you need but may not have access to. Being successful often means learning from those who have already achieved their goals. Having a mentor is an amazing blessing to an entrepreneur, but not everyone can find one in person.

If you haven’t yet found your personal business guru, here are tips for young or aspiring entrepreneurs to help get you started.

This list complies lessons that are all easily accessible and within your reach:

Be Authentic 

The most powerful asset you have is your individuality, what makes you unique. It’s time to stop listening to others on what you should do, trust yourself, and be the most authentic version of yourself. People will thank you for it.

Work Hard

Work harder than anyone else and you will benefit from the effort. Set the standard for yourself, and don’t let anyone else interfere with that standard.

Connect

Get off the computer and connect with real people and culture! Life is visceral. And “if you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it.” (Thanks for that one Ferris Bueller.)

Do

Constantly improve your skills. Do things with your hands. Get outside and make things. Create. Innovation in thinking is not enough.

Travel

Travel as much as you can. It is a humbling and inspiring experience to learn just how much you don’t know.

Be Original

Being original is still king, especially in this tech-driven world.

Instinct

Instinct and intuition are all-powerful. Learn to trust them.

 

Networking Tips: How To Work The Room

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If you have been to a networking event before, you are well aware of the chaos that can ensue. Everyone is there to meet other people, make connections, and better themselves professionally, yet so often we leave those events not remembering who we talked to!

In this blog post, I have outlined the best tactics to get the most out of any networking event. There is a famous quote that always comes to mind before attending a networking event, and that is, “Prior proper planning prevents poor performance.”

With this mantra in mind, use these tactics to plan ahead of time, work the room at the event, and follow up with new connections afterwards.

Leverage Social Media

  • Linkedin – Learn about fellow attendees, make personal connections, and set-up meetings!
  • Twitter – Follow the conference hashtag, set up Twitter lists, and tweet about the event!
  • Facebook – Check & comment on the event’s page and create a list of people to connect with!

Set Up Meetings Ahead of Time

People get booked up quickly at events! Be on their calendar long before everyone else to get a head start.

Prepare Your Elevator Pitch

Come with a sentence or two about your company. Concisely explain your role at said company, and how you might be able to help someone. Finally, have some good questions on hand to make sure you are engaging the people that you meet.

Know Your Networking Goals

Do you want to spread awareness about a new project that you’re starting? Do you want to meet an industry leader who can become a valuable mentor? Having a clear goal in mind will make networking less ambiguous and lead to more effective conversations.

Start A Conversation

Your first connection at an event is your gateway to meeting more people. It can be intimidating, but with the right approach, you can join in on an existing conversation or start your own! Make sure to read up on industry news and trends beforehand so you’ll be prepared to spark up conversation.

Ask For Something

Maybe you’re looking for a job offer, a recommendation letter, or to land a client. Consider why someone should choose you over others, then, come up with a succinct, humble answer why and ask for it. Be clear that you want it to be mutually beneficial.

Follow Up With Your Connections

Connect soon after the event. The sooner you follow up, the more likely your connections will remember you. Connect with new contacts on Linkedin and make sure to write a thoughtful message in your invitation. Further those relationships, consider reaching out to mutual contacts that you and your new connection have.

Giving Effective Employee Evaluations

Evaluating your employees can be a great method for helping managers assess employee performance and for giving feedback on how well an employee executes their job duties. Both parties can benefit immensely from evaluations.

Performance evaluations are imperative to company success. They provide room for both parties to gain feedback on what they are doing well, what they need to work on, what they want, and what both parties goals are, yet many managers dread the process or do not know how to conduct them effectively.

Follow these simple steps and you’ll be on your way to conducting excellent employee evaluations!

Define Expectations

Define what is expected of the employee, and make sure that their goals are both measurable and observable. This way, when it comes time to give an evaluation, you will have very specific and tangible things to look at and bring to the table.

Create Goals

Discuss and set up goals with each employee, and then make sure to get each employee to sign off on the goals, showing that they are on board and agree with the plan in place. This way you will protect yourself from any backlash when it comes time to review your employees, and have a great way to hold employees accountable to the goals they set for themselves.

Provide Written Evaluations

Every 6 months or so, discuss employee performance. For struggling employees, consider a once a month evaluation. Ensure that written performance reviews reflect the entire evaluation period. By putting the evaluation in writing, you have something to refer back to when the next evaluation comes up.

Maintain a Performance Record

Similarly to my reasoning above, take written notes throughout the year, so you always have a paper trail to refer to when discussing employee performance. Things like big wins your employees encounter, any losses, etc… By keeping track of things like this, you will set yourself up for an incredibly successful employee review!

Ensure Integrity Of Evaluation

Written comments need to be factual, detailed and constructive. This makes employees feel both valued and like they are being paid attention to. Use respectful language and mannerisms during performance reviews. Listen actively and ask employee to clarify responses when necessary. It is also important that performance criteria is not changed after the review. Standards need to be consistent across employees.

By incorporating these simple steps into your evaluations, you will come away feeling like you have done an effective job at evaluating your employees! Good luck!

Master Your Elevator Pitch

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Meeting the right person at the right time could help launch your career to the next level! Here’s how to make the most of a chance encounter.

Always Be Ready

You never know when an opportunity will pop up, which is why it’s essential to have an elevator pitch at your disposal. Spend some time practicing and perfecting your pitch every so often so you have it fresh and ready to go in your mind at all times! This way you will always be prepared for any situation that might present itself to you.

Ease Into It

If it’s someone you know, acknowledge how you know each other. If it’s someone you’ve never met, you can still acknowledge what you have in common. For example, a bag or suitcase or pair of glasses, any common ground is better than nothing!

Focus On The Future

Your pitch shouldn’t be a laundry list of achievements of your life story. Instead, talk about what you’re working on or something you’re going to be doing. This catches people’s attention and intrigues them to ask more.

Keep It Short

Aim for a 45-second pitch. Practice in front of a mirror with a stopwatch and videotape yourself. Watch the clip and take notes. See if something doesn’t make sense, if you’re talking too fast or too slow, or if you want to reword anything.

Be Approachable

Make eye contact and keep your arms uncrossed so you’re open to the person in front of you. Be close, but maintain some distance so you’re not taking over the other person’s space.

Ask Questions

Turn the conversation back to the other person. At a minimum you should know enough that you can keep in touch with them.

Exchange Contact Info

A big pet peeve in networking is when people are too presumptuous. The elevator pitch is an introduction, not a close. It’s only purpose is to start a relationship. You want to connect with the person and plant the seed for future contact.

Watch here for more tips on mastering your elevator pitch:

How To Get Over Your Fear Of Networking

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Does the thought of entering a crowded room filled with strangers give you anxiety? Does it make you feel overwhelmed?

Networking is a fear many people share. Some would even say it’s one of the scariest steps of finding a job. Whether it’s getting freaked out by small talk or the fear of forgetting someone’s name, networking can be a scary thing to do.

If you’re feeling spooked by networking, here are some tips that can help you become a fearless networker:

Attend fun networking events.

Consider attending networking events with a few friends such as happy hours hosted by professional organizations in your city, going to an alumni mixer, or getting involved with volunteering opportunities. These are some fun ways to meet new people without having to stress about networking.

Host your own networking event.

Can’t find a networking event that fits your needs? Why not host your own?

Hosting your own networking is quite simple. Find a location in your city such as a local coffee shop or restaurant and invite 10 of your colleagues to attend. This is a casual way to get a group of people together to mingle in a relaxed environment and you won’t have to worry if you will know anyone or not since you’ll be the one inviting people!

Use the magic of Twitter.

If you’re not ready to go to in-person networking events, Twitter can be a great resource for connecting with people in your industry!

Use Twitter to participate in industry Twitter chats, search for professionals in your area, and coordinate a meet-up. Twitter can also be used to share industry-related content and engage in conversations with people in your social network. By using Twitter, you’ll connect with more people all over the world in your industry that you probably wouldn’t have been able to in-person.

Stop the small talk.

Instead of focusing on making small talk, shift your focus to learning about the people you meet. Spark conversations with people by asking about THEM. Ask about their jobs, what they enjoy doing for fun, or why they like their jobs. These conversations will become more meaningful, will take the pressure off of you and you’ll learn more about the people you meet!

Avoid networking events altogether.

Instead of focusing on strictly attending networking events, consider going to conferences, workshops, or speaker events where you’ll meet professionals in your industry. These events will give you opportunities to make new connections without having to directly focus on networking.

Less is more.

Take the pressure off of yourself of feeling like you need to collect 20 business cards when you go to a networking event. Instead, focus on making one or two strong bonds with the new people you meet. This relationships will become more valuable in the future.


 

By following these tips, networking should become less scary and more enjoyable. Remember, networking is about building valuable relationships with people who can become friends and mentors.

What are some ways you’ve overcome your fear of networking?

How To Use Relationships and Referrals To Get A Job

Get Ready.

Identify what you want to achieve from networking. Are you exploring a new field or just want to learn about it? Do some homework first – research the field, read up on organization websites, and join a professional association so you can be conversant and professional with your contacts. Don’t waste people’s valuable time with basic questions that you could answer with a few minutes of research.

Get Organized. 

You will be doing a lot of outreach, visits, emailing and following up with people. Get a system in place to track the details, using a spreadsheet such as Excel, or whatever else works for you.

Identify Your Inner Circle.

Inner circle contacts are people who know you personally and might be able to recommend you.

Categorize Your Contacts.

Categorize your contacts by levels of connection with you. For example, begin with your inner most circle of family and friends, to inner circle of coworkers and classmates, to outer circle of friends of friends, to prospects who are people you know of but don’t know you. Another way to categorize is by relevance to your job search. Most relevant would be people currently in your desired industry, to least relevant, like a best friend in a totally unrelated industry, but still may know someone who knows someone….

Leverage Your Existing Inner Circle Contacts.

Contact them via Linkedin, email or phone, with a message reaching out to re-establish the relationship. Ask how they have been and mention that you are soon launching a job search.

Ask Your Contacts.

Ask them to keep an eye out for relevant jobs for you, and to forward them along. Ask them to introduce you to people in your area of interest. Ask them to give you tips on the hiring process for their organization. Ask them to recommend you on Linkedin. Ask them to meet with you to chat and catch up! You have nothing to lose!

Maintain Your Relationships.

Maintain the relationship that you have established with your new and existing contacts, and do this on an ongoing basis, not just when you are job-seeking.

Do this by, for example, sending a note after every interview, not just an email, but a handwritten card. If you don’t have their address for a handwritten card, write them a Linkedin recommendation!

 

How To Become A Master of Networking

Be Open And Genuine
You want people to like you and connect with you because you’re being genuine. Develop a curiosity for others and be open to new relationships where value can be found without letting your ego get in the way. Let people know the impact they’ve had on you.

Forget The Elevator Pitch
Don’t try to impress someone with your title or expertise. Instead, enter into conversation, ask questions and listen. The things you might have in common help to establish a connection that could blossom over time. Elevator pitches are easy to forget but making a genuine connection with someone sticks.

Organize A Happy Hour
Hosting your own small event is a great way to meet new people as well as to be helpful to the people you already know. You never know what opportunities could come from meeting new people and discussing your career in a casual setting. Always important to remember — the more open doors the better!

Network Up, Down, Sideways
Don’t just create a network at your level or industry – diversify! Be intentional about bringing in those above and below you and from a variety of sectors. Every new contact opens up a whole new network to you.

Swap Cards Later
Your business card is only as powerful as the impression you leave behind. By handing someone your card right off the bat, you are providing them with more room to forget about it. So get to know the person first and gauge if there’s a connection, and then end the conversation by offering your card, or even reach out days later via email with your information.

Remember – It’s Not All About You
Don’t ask about job opportunities and favors without offering anything valuable in return. Networking is a two way street.

Be Memorable
You should strive to be memorable when you’re meeting new people, and the best way to do so is through good storytelling. When you tell a story, make sure it has a clear point and a punch line, where a takeaway or a joke.

Quality, Not Quantity
Meeting the right people is most important. The right people are those that can help reach your career goal and speak up for you. You need to focus on people with whom you can build strong mutually beneficial relationships.

Leave Your Comfort Zone
Even if you’re shy, you just have to engage with people. Try to emulate someone you admire in these situations until it becomes more natural for you. After all, everyone was a stranger before you met them.

Keep In Touch
The more you invest in your network, the more valuable your network is. Taking calls, responding to emails, offering to help people creates a strong bond. It’s important to network proactively so you have these relationships when you need help.

Ways To Improve Company Culture

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No matter the size of your company, its industry or your budget, certain environmental and behavioral changes are almost guaranteed to improve your team’s creative output, attract the right talent and ultimately move your company beyond what you can even imagine today.

Build an inspired workspace.

It all starts with the workspace. In today’s design-centric, user-focused world, companies have to move quickly and innovate constantly and that certainly won’t happen from behind a bland cubicle wall and dull office light.

Large open spaces, cozy living room setups, big windows, inviting kitchens and convenient facilities like showers and bicycle parking are what’s in. But even if you aren’t building an office from scratch, adding a lot of whiteboards and markers as well as providing your team with beautiful computers and other technology products will help give space to the outpouring of their creative juices.

Grant flexible work hours.

While stable work hours make for organizational order, the creative muse cannot be simply willed into being exactly from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. People have different rhythms that make them more or less productive during certain hours.

For some people, the best ideas come in the middle of the night or during a long lunch when the mind is relaxed. In the technology world, for example, it’s commonplace for developers to be more productive during the quieter “after-hours.” They might choose to sleep in later and work well into the wee hours of the night.

If you want to encourage productivity and inspiration, allow flexible work hours for members of your team. Let them do their work when they will do it best. Flexibility also attracts a creative talent pool of people with a variety of interests and commitments in life.

Remember the fun factor.  

Encourage employees to spend time together outside of the office. Plan events and social gatherings for employees. You can even incentivize your employees to reach a goal and reward them with a company happy hour. The more employees get to know and like each other, the happier they will be to come in to the office and work, in turn producing better results for your company!

Build a diverse team.

Many creative business owners often complain that they have trouble finding good staff people. Perhaps what they’re trying to find is a replica of themselves. They wrongly assume that having a professional twin would double their business overnight.

Carbon copies aren’t the key to creating an innovative company. Instead, build a diverse team whose strength lies in its members’ range of work experience, education and cultural backgrounds that play off of one another.

Put the team first.

To have a truly creative company culture, your staff has to be your biggest priority. While you may think that your customers should always come first, take a cue from powerful CEOs like Virgin Group’s Richard Branson and Zappos’ Tony Hsieh, who have proved that putting the team first makes customers and even shareholders happy.