Imagine a stranger approaches you and says, “Hi, my name is Bob and here’s what you can do for me!” If you’re anything like me the last thing you would want to do is give Bob anything, let alone a few minutes of your time. When it comes to networking, don’t be Bob.
Networking works when you give. The first thing I learned at NoCoNet is that you build your network by giving.
What is networking, really?
I love this definition of networking by Karin Conway, networking is the art of building your sphere of influence through deliberate attempts to connect to other humans and display a definite purpose of helping others.
Networking is valuable for creating connections to forge partnerships and share knowledge and information. Successful people are successful by getting lots of help, not because they are too good to need it. If you want to be successful, you need a network, too.
How does networking work?
What your network looks like, and how you use it, depends on your business and your goals.
A job seeker’s network is his or her family, friends, former co-workers, college alumni, past or present club members, and recruiters. This network can provide job leads, key contact names, references, and more.
A business person’s network is his or her professional peers and leaders in the same field or industry. This network refers clients, shares best practices, offers advice, and other information.
Bloggers often refer to their network as a community. A blogger’s network are the other bloggers in their niche that leave comments, share content, exchange guest posts, and build friendships.
Your network can be any and all of these things, and can support you in a variety of ways.
What do I have to give my network?
When I walked into my first networking event, I was anxious and overwhelmed. I needed help- and lots of it- but didn’t know what I had to give. As it turns out, I have lots to give, such as:
- shareable content
- job leads
- client leads
- partnership opportunities
- contact names
- a smile
Instead of asking for something from your network, start by offering to give.
Everybody knows how to do something, so get out there and do! Be on a committee, or take on a volunteer position.
Offer to proofread a resume or critique a pitch. Leave a comment on a blog, or share content on social media.
Make a new friend. Smile! Introduce yourself to someone standing alone, and then introduce them to someone else you already know.
It’s easy to give, and giving soon gives back to you, and that’s how networking works. If you want to live a great life, and you want to be successful in life, start by giving instead of taking.
The greatest part about giving is the sense of confidence, purpose, accomplishment you’ll get when you contribute and participate in something bigger than you. You’ll get more by giving, and you’ll get farther than Bob.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” ~Winston Churchil
I love your comments! How do you give to your network? What does giving mean to you?
Image courtesy of BlueEyedA73
I couldn’t be more excited to attend the amazing BlissDom Conference next month in Nashville, Tennessee and get my bliss on! Although this will be my First Bliss, I am preparing to make the most of it and have an awesome conference experience!
Attending conferences provides excellent opportunities for networking, training, and personal and professional development. Whether your employer or business partner is sponsoring you, or you’re paying your own way, you can increase the value of your conference experience with a little preparation. After all, why spend your money, time and energy on activities that don’t fully enrich your life?
Here are a few tips to improve your conference experience:
Before the Conference
Network, connect, engage.
Connecting with other attendees before the event is a great way to meet new people, build stronger connections, and break the ice.
Some ways to network before the conference include attending organization programs and meetings, following and participating in the conference hashtag on Twitter, and RSVPing to the event on Facebook, LinkedIn or other social media.
Practice your elevator speech.
Be prepared to tell people what’s important to know about you! The goal is to describe yourself in 1 – 3 sentences.
What are you passionate about? In what way are you unique and amazing? If you had a tag line, what would it be?
Order business cards.
Exchanging business cards is a great way to follow up your elevator speech with a powerful branding statement and provide your contact information. Don’t settle for boring business cards- let your cards reflect your passion and purpose!
Set your development goals.
To get the most out of your conference, decide what you want to take away from the event. Perhaps you want to make 5 new contacts, meet a particular speaker or sponsor, or learn a specific skill.
Consider what you truly want to achieve and make your goals a priority during the excitement of the event.
At the Conference
Bring a pen and paper to sessions.
We all love technology, however I prefer to minimize distractions and take notes with good old fashioned paper and pen. Keeping it simple helps me focus on what I’m there to learn.
Move your body
Get up and move to another seat between sessions. Don’t stay camped out in the same spot the entire conference. Moving around you energizes your body and mind, and provides more opportunity to make connections.
Make progress on your goals.
Meet the people you wanted to meet, and attend the sessions you wanted to attend. Keep your goals in mind throughout the event. You don’t have to participate in every event to have a great conference experience, instead focus on making progress towards your goals.
Talk to strangers.
Approaching new people can be intimidating, but I encourage you to make good use of your artfully crafted and well practiced elevator speech. You can start by taking a deep breath and saying, “hello”.
Smiling improves your mood, and the mood of those around you. It also makes you far more approachable and open to others. Whenever you can, smile. Chances are you’ll get more out of your conference with a smile than without.
Take care of yourself.
There’s often so much going on at conferences it can be easy to skip meals, indulge in caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, and stay up all night. Don’t forget to take care of you!
Leave home at home and work at work.
You may get caught up thinking about important people or projects at home and cause yourself unnecessary stress. Avoid worrying about work and home and make the most of the experience you’re having in the moment.
Life is an adventure; don’t forget to have fun at everything you do!
I love your comments! What other conference tips do you have to share?
If you’re attending BlissDom, please introduce yourself. I’d love to connect with you!Join the Conversation
Are you In? LinkedIn is a great networking tool and powerful career resource, and many professionals and bloggers aren’t using LinkedIn to it’s full potential.
Maybe you’re perfectly happy exactly where you are in your career or with your current blog activity. If you are, good for you! Work-life balance and career satisfaction are not measured by job title, page rank or status. Then again, very few of us find happiness and success standing still. If you want to grow your blog or your career, LinkedIn can be a great resource!
Here are 6 ways LinkedIn has empowered my professional development:
1. Reconnect with old contacts.
Did you cringe when your old high school nemesis friended you on Facebook? LinkedIn can be used to reconnect with former professional contacts that are far less cringe-worthy.
I have used LinkedIn to reconnect with former classmates & teachers, co-workers & supervisors, and business partners. I’ve found valuable contacts I lost track of, and I can maintain my professional network as colleagues and classmates move, change jobs, phone numbers and email addresses.
2. Get personal recommendations.
Ask for personal recommendations from your network for job opportunities, promotions, business opportunities and more.
When I was job hunting, my LinkedIn network provided the opportunity to request a personal referral to a company I wanted to work. After an interview with a great company, I found my interviewer on LinkedIn and discovered we shared a connection. I contacted our shared connection, a former service provider, and he was glad to contact my interviewer to provide a personal recommendation on my behalf.
3. Build credibility around your expertise.
If you want to be known as an expert in your field, LinkedIn Answers can help you build your reputation.
LinkedIn Answers shaped my blog niche. When you answer questions on LinkedIn Answers, the questioner can rate one answer as the “best answer”. I was repeatedly rated “best answer” on the topics of work-life balance, career management, and related topics and thus my niche was born!
4. Find your audience.
Use LinkedIn Answers to gain insight into your professional industry and to stay informed and knowledgeable on your career path.
LinkedIn Answers helps me tune into my audience. I have written several blog entries based on questions other professionals are asking on LinkedIn.
5. Learn from the experts.
Asking questions on LinkedIn Answers allows you tap into a huge network of experts.
When I wanted to create business networking cards, experts from LinkedIn responded to my question and I was able to create a killer networking card that have consistently impressed at networking events.
Don’t forget to rate the “Best Answer” when your question closes.
6. Interact with your professional peers.
LinkedIn Groups provides a venue for valuable discussion and information sharing on your professional interests.
LinkedIn Groups provided tips, tricks and support when I started my blog. I’m a member of The Blog Zone group on LinkedIn and I participated in discussions for months before and during the creation of my blog.
There’s a lot of great information being shared on LinkedIn Groups!
Where to get started on LinkedIn:
If you’re not already on LinkedIn, or signed up ages ago and don’t know what to do next, please check out these awesome videos from my good friend, Adrienne Smith at adriennesmith.net!
I love your comments! How are or aren’t you using LinkedIn? Did you learn something new from this post?
Image courtesy of Jerry LukJoin the Conversation
In today’s digital world, business cards may seem passé, but networking cards are a great tool for building your professional brand, networking, and generating business opportunities.
Chances are you’ll be looking for a new job, new clients, or to increase your audience at some point in the near future. Don’t wait until you need your network to build your network! Being prepared with quality networking cards lets your contacts know who you are and how to contact you.
Why you need a business card:
You may meet professional contacts in person and a business networking card is a quick and easy way to exchange information. Your website url, name or email address may be difficult to remember when relayed in casual conversation.
As a job seeker, career professional, blogger, or business owner, a diverse and engaged network can help you achieve your goals! A business card is an accepted and professional way to exchange information.
Here are some situations where having a business networking card is useful:
- Networking events, such as professional association meetings, professional training and seminars, and conferences.
- Striking up a discussion with a potential contact on the commuter train or at the airport during a business trip.
- After answering the dreaded “what do you do?” question at parties.
- A business partner, co-worker or friend refers you to one of their contacts.
- Requesting a business card from your interviewer, and providing your business card at the close of your job interview.
As a note, ask for your contact’s business card and immediately send them a follow up email and connect with them on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. You don’t want to wait to connect until you no longer remember who they are or where you met; connect right away, offer value, and your network will give back to you when you need it.
Why you need a personal business card:
If you are employed by an organization you may already have a business card for your organization, however it’s a good idea to have your own business networking card for the following reasons:
- Don’t exchange your organization’s business card if you are not expressly acting as a direct representative of the organization.
- Organizations are constantly changing and you want your contacts to have stable contact information, such as an email address and cell phone that you maintain as your career grows.
- You can provide the url to your blog, LinkedIn, and other social networking profiles.
- A personalized business networking card can highlight your skills and experience, values and goals. Consider including a bulleted list of your expertise.
Designing your personalized business card:
Here’s some important information to consider including on your networking card:
- Your name
- A professional email address such as email@example.com
- Your cell phone number (with a professional voice mail greeting!)
- Your website url
- Your LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and other professional social network profile
- A tagline describing your values or goals. My networking card used to read, “Mindfulness and accountability in business”
- Bulleted list of your areas of expertise
- A professional photo of yourself
- QR (Quick Response) code so your contact information can be read by smartphones! You can create your own QR code at Kaywa, Qurify, or many other sites.
Modern business cards come in bold colors and graphics, as well as printing on the back and front of the card so don’t feel limited by traditional business card designs. Create a card that tells a story about your career. Your networking card should give your contacts an idea who you are and how to get in touch with you.
I love your comments! Do you have a business card? What do you do with business cards given to you by someone else?Join the Conversation
Joining a Professional Association is a great way to network, stay on top of trends in your field, build leadership skills, participate in on-going training, gain expertise and obtain professional certifications.
Membership to a local Professional Organization is a one-stop shop for professional development and career success. Most Professional Association Chapters have meetings once-a-month with the opportunity to network, attend an educational program with certification points, and participate in association business. Membership also usually includes subscription to online content and webinars, and periodical publications.
I am a grateful member of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) and Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
As a member of IAAP and SHRM I have been welcomed and supported in my career by open, friendly and successful professionals. Networking is a breeze at every IAAP and SHRM function, and I’ve built great professional relationships at association meetings.
I’ve also had the opportunity to obtain affordable world-class training through monthly programs, annual meetings and conferences. Programs have included resume writing, social media, generations in the workplace, diversity and much more. Training opportunities have included Microsoft Office skills for advanced users, computer security, legal concerns and more.
I don’t know why it took me so long to go to my first Professional Association meeting. The atmosphere couldn’t have been more inviting and fun, and the benefits are vast.
Getting involved in your professional development will boost your confidence, opportunity and experience. Joining a Professional Organization is just one way to be active in your career success. However you get involved- just do it!
I’m active in International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) and Society for Human Resource Management, and you can find many more Professional Associations here.
What Professional Organizations are you a member of? Have you had positive or negative experiences with Professional Associations? Share them here!Join the Conversation
I was talking to a good friend about our career paths, and following the careers of our dreams. Having recently completed a free workshop at Larimer County Workforce Center, called Creating Career Options, I am feeling particularly inspired, engaged and energized in my career development. At the close of the conversation with my friend, she said we are each others “supporter of truths”.
Though it would be easy to fall prey to the desperation and fear that is prevalent in the world today, I choose to enjoy each day as much as I can, and love my work and my life. I choose to see endless possibilities instead of endless limitations. When a possibility becomes closed to me, I see it as an opportunity to explore another direction- perhaps a direction I haven’t imagined yet.
Loving my work and my life, and living to the fullest, is not a task I can accomplish alone. I do it with the support, enthusiasm, courage and faith of supporters of my truth. I surround myself with people who actively seek out their dreams, and work to better themselves and the world we share.
Many of these connections are made through networking. I share my goals and dreams with those in my immediate circle of connections, and the professionals I meet through professional organizations, networking events, at my place of work, through LinkedIn, and blogging.
I devised, from my friend’s words, that networking is about surrounding myself with supporters of my truth.
I am very grateful for all the opportunities I choose to see and explore. I am even more grateful for the connections in my life that support the discovery and development of my career and inspire me to trust in myself and follow my dreams.Join the Conversation