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

Company Culture Word Cloud

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.

Online Networking Tips

Alan Rasof There’s no doubt that networking is one of the most beneficial things you can do to become successful in your career. And now that we are entering a digital age, online networking will play a key role in companies’ recruiting efforts, and for individuals searching for job opportunities.

According to Monster.com, chairman and CEO of RHI (Robert Half International) notes, “Networking sites can be used to identify new career opportunities, create online profiles that highlight one’s skills and experience, and build a roster of business contracts over time,” (5 Steps for Online Networking Success). That being said, there are many ways you can make sure you are prepared to network online. Here are some helpful tips:

First, create an online website that will give insight of who you are and what you care about. RHI advises to “pay as much attention to the content of your online profile as you would the information in your resume,”(5 Steps for Online Networking Success). This means you should be highlighting many of your professional skills, writing well-written blog posts and information that showcases your dedication as a professional.

Alan Rasof

Next, find quality contacts. Your online network should focus on professionals in your industry that are willing to help you out and connect you with higher level individuals that may be able to help you find a job or build your skills. You might have to start by adding a few of your close friends that could connect you with one or two people in your career-path, and go from there. Don’t ever be afraid to reach out to somebody you think could offer you advice, just be diligent and aware that you are online and there could be impersonations of people.

Finally, always be professional and polite online. Networking to advance your career online must be done with care. You should not have images or content that you wouldn’t want somebody giving you an interview to look at.  According to RHI experts, “Make sure that any public messages or images you post don’t detract from your professional image,”(5 Steps for Online Networking Success). Of course, privacy settings are there for a reason, but it’s best to stay on the safe side and not post anything you think is questionable.

Always remember that the internet is a tool that our society should utilize purposefully, and to not step over the line and make a careless mistake that could be detrimental to your career. Use online networking to your advantage, but always be cautious.

Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

Being able to communicate effectively – inside or outside of the office – is a critical life skill to learn. But, unfortunately, many people do not put an adequate amount of effort into improving their communication skills due to various reasons ranging from busy schedules to being comfortable with the way they communicate and allocating their time learning different professional skills. However, communication is one of the most important skills to learn continuously throughout your own life and should be prioritized over most other skills. Here are some ways you can learn to communicate more effectively:

Alan Rasof effective-communication-clip-art-20367

First, body language is crucial when it comes to communicating well with others. Whether you’re having a personal conversation with your significant other about your relationship, or you’re giving a presentation in front of your entire office, the way you position your body can play a large role in how well others interpret what you’re saying. For example, if you tell your partner that you are willing to hear what he or she has to say, but your arms are crossed and you are avoiding making eye contact, he or she will probably assume that you really aren’t willing to listen. In addition, if you are in a work environment, standing up straight and using appropriate hand gestures every so often will help you seem confident and will give the audience the perception that you are able to persuade your audience and know exactly what you are speaking towards.

Alan Rasof communicating

On the other hand, if you are slouching and positioning your body away from the audience, your work peers and advisors will probably get the impression that you do not want to intellectually involve your audience, and could even put your career in a sticky situation. That being said, body language is key for effectively communicating. In order to improve it, work on a “power pose” that you are comfortable with that will help boost your confidence before a presentation at work. In addition, develop strong eye contact with whoever you are speaking to so they know you are engaged and serious.

Another way to improve your communication skills is to ask questions and repeat information that was given to you. Many times, we zone out during conversations, which is perfectly normal. But, in order to stay focused on what other people are saying, make an effort to ask questions pertaining to what they are talking about – and better yet, repeating the last few words of a sentence will further indicate that you are listening effectively and actually care about what they are saying.

Alan Rasof leader

According to an article published by Lifehacker.com, asking questions and repeating phrases has many benefits to help improve your communication skills:

“It also helps for small talk and to fill in awkward silences. Instead of trying to stir up conversation on mundane topics like the weather, ask the other person questions (eg.g., ‘Got any plans for the summer?’ or ‘What are you reading lately?’) and engage in their answers. It’s more important to be interested than to be interesting,” (Pinola, Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills).

Lastly, living in this technologically advanced world, we are often distracted by our cell phones, ipads, fitbits, beepers, buzzers, and what have you – so please, when you’re having a conversation – put them away. There’s nothing worse than going out to a restaurant and watching dozens of adolescents and adults fixated to their phones and not having any conversation at all. Let’s face it – it’s just rude. So put away your distractions and look up at the person you’re talking to, this could help our communication skills vastly as a larger population.

 

Investing in Networking

Networking is one of the most important professional skills you can learn that will continuously give benefits throughout your career and can give you more tools than any other investment regardless of what field you are in. Keep in mind, networking takes time and gratification does not come instantly. But, recognizing the rewards that come with networking will help you realize that it’s all worth it in the end. The following are just a few examples of why you should invest time into networking:

alan rasof photo of networking

First, networking enables you to build benefits that can last longer and have more meaning than money and career choices, it allows you to gain significant friendships. Having friends in your business is a vital and often overlooked aspect that results from networking. Working can get lonely, especially if you’re working behind a cubicle every day with only a computer screen to keep you company. But having an actual person who understands what you do is beneficial on both emotional and psychological levels. Relationships keep this world spinning, and having strong friendships associated with your job will not only motivate you, but make you happier and more eager to go to work each day.

Along with gaining friendships in your business niche, these people you have close ties with can offer mutual help when it comes to your career. Whether it is helping you reach for a promotion by giving you a great reputation and strong recommendations within your company, or helping you feel a sense of community involvement, friendships often result in assistance with your career. Not only can they help further your networking investments by introducing you to great people in your field, but they can help you find a way out of sticky situations by having your back when things go wrong and giving you a heads up on various information.

alan rasof photo of networking 2

Lastly, networking will provide you with a plethora of opportunities for you to excel as a professional. If you think that you’re not gaining any opportunities within your workplace, it’s probably time for you to focus on building your network. According to an article written by Chris Garrett entitled 5 Reasons You Should Invest Your Time in Networking:

“All the best opportunities are shared person to person in back channels. Everything from prime domain sales through to employment opportunities. If two people are equally qualified then it goes to who you know, like and trust. A lot of the time even when the person you like is less qualified,” (Garrett, 5 Reasons You Should Invest Your Time in Networking).

Networking won’t only give you new opportunities for you to get ahead in your career, but these opportunities can also pave the path for a happier career. You can accomplish more than you would ever think possible with the help of networking and meeting professionals that truly care and want to help you succeed.

To read more about why networking is worth your time, read Chris Garrett’s article here.