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Creating Successful Leaders

Tag Archives: Networking

tips for successful networking

Even if you’re not looking for a new job, networking is still a valuable pursuit. It’s a chance to learn more about your industry, the jobs you didn’t know existed in your field, how to advance your career, or how to start your own business. For some people, networking can feel like shallow interactions that are barely masking the attitude of “what can you do for me?” but this doesn’t need to be the case. With a positive disposition and helpful strategies in place, networking can be the start of a nurturing, collaborative, trustworthy community for you.

Practice your intro

You may not be selling a product or an idea, but in networking scenarios, you need to market your skills and talent. When people ask you about your job title and your pursuits, have a clear, short summary ready to go. Practice it in the mirror or record yourself, if you can; hearing your voice played back can help you determine where to pause or when to punch up your pitch for optimal recollection, for you and your potential contacts.

Set goals for yourself

Networking goals will vary between people and industries, but it is important to set them. It’s far too easy to sweep that type of work under the rug, but setting goals will keep you accountable. Create goals that are achievable: attend at least one networking event within the next month, reach out to three new people in your industry, or schedule a meeting with an existing contact. Once you meet those goals, make new ones.

Treat every encounter as important, because it is

While it is easy to think of networking as a means to a new job, there is more to be gained from these interactions. Don’t dismiss someone because they can’t help you right now: the benefit of continued communication could come around in three months or three years. Keep in mind that they could also introduce you to someone else who needs your skills.

Follow up

After you meet these new contacts, you need to reach out before they start collecting dust. Use the method of communication that works for both of you: phone, email, Skype, or face-to-face. Check in regularly and ask them about what they’re working on, what projects they see for the near future, and the skills and experience needed to complete their work. If your skills don’t align with their needs, you might recommend someone from your network. Consistent, thoughtful communication will hopefully result in contacts thinking of you when relevant opportunities come across their desk.

Bring people together

As you your network grows and you learn about the skills and needs of your contacts, you may realize that one needs the services of the other. This is what networking is all about: helping people connect. Hopefully, they will get a chance to repay the favor: when one of those contacts comes across a job posting or freelance opportunity in your field, you know they will think of you first.

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networking-meeting-of-bus-007

In the big, bustling world of business, it is absolutely crucial that you make a memorable impression (the good kind of memorable!) right away. This is as true for job seekers as it is for veteran business people hoping to make big waves in their career.

The key, I’ve found, is prompt and consistent follow-ups. Here are some principles that have given me success:

1. Hang on to the contact info of business prospects. Whatever works best for you. I know folks who keep a case for business cards. I like to write down the contact info in my planner on the same day that I met them. Either way, keeping track of who you meet and how you can get a hold of them is a sure-fire way of optimizing your chances of success.

2. Contact prospects sooner, not later. A rule of thumb is within the first couple days of meeting them. You want to keep their memory of you fresh in their minds as that ideal option for them to take advantage of.

3. Remember first names, and use them. People respond well when you use their first name. It shows you view them as a unique individual, not just another business lead. Do you best to get their name the first time. It can be tough, but think about how you’ve felt when someone has said to you, “I’m sorry, what was your name again?” That’s never good for business.

4. Never burn bridges. Many leads turn out to be dead ends, but don’t let this get you down. You never know when a prospect who has turned you down in the past may approach you in the future, but they certainly won’t do so if they had a negative experience interacting with you. Stay positive, hang on to their business card, and keep that door open.

Good luck!

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building-blocks

For those of you just getting started on your career, or for those who may be in a transitionary period, you may be running up against the “catch-22” of the job hunt. You know what I’m talking about, that annoying part of a job advertisement that says “entry level position,” followed directly by “three years of experience required.”

Here are a few tried-and-true ways to get the career ball rolling. Remember, the beginning of anyone’s career is often sluggish, so it’s imperative that you follow the Three P’s, and stay patient, persistent and positive.

1. Take Any Opportunity That Comes Your Way.

Even if it’s volunteer work or an unpaid internship, if it has anything to do with your field, say yes. You can’t afford to be too picky at first. Any experience looks great on a resume, but more importantly, any experience equips you with the confidence in yourself to meet your career goals.

2. Be Conscious of Your Personal Brand.

What are your strengths? Where do your interests lie? How do these apply to the field you’d like to break into? How will employers perceive you, and more importantly, how are you demonstrating your skills and strengths? These are questions that you must be able to answer in order to be a competitive prospective employee.

3. Network, network, network!

Do informational interviews. Follow up on leads. Keep your LinkedIn profile and your resume current. You never know if and when you’ll encounter the big breakthrough, so be ready at all times.

4. Don’t Be Discouraged.

Sometimes the market is just plain old tough tough, and that’s not your fault. All you can do is your best. Don’t let a bad economy make you feel like you’re not qualified. Staying proactive even in when jobs are scarce will show employers your resilience, which will help you land the job when the time comes.

5. Take Advantage of the Internet.

We live in a unique time: the information age. There are countless online resources at your disposal, including social media sites, job listings, blogs, and event notifications. Keep your eyes peeled and learn all you can.

Good luck!

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Run_With_Perseverance

I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling of excitement we get when we decide, gosh darn it, that we’re going to go on a diet, or get in shape, or work our way to our dream job. It’s a great feeling, isn’t it? It’s a relief to know you don’t have to settle for less.

But if you’re anything like me, you’re also pretty well acquainted with the feelings that begin to creep on in the following weeks. You begin to rationalize: “I’ve been doing so great with this diet, I’ll allow myself some ice cream as a reward.” Or how about this one: “Well, I’ve had no luck getting interviews so far, and the job I have now isn’t so bad, so I’ll just stop looking and keep on doing this.”

Then you look back on the excitement you had only a few weeks prior, that eagerness to make a positive change, and you become discouraged when you realize you haven’t really changed at all. That’s when you’re saboteur, that voice of constant self-doubt, takes over. “You were never going to make that change. You’re just a mediocre person. Leave the big goals for the big people.”

Lies, lies, lies!

If you’re serious about achieving your goals, you need to understand that it won’t come right away. It’ll take work. Merely getting excited after deciding to make a change is great, but it takes more to achieve your goals.

It Takes 14 Days To Break A Habit

Keep in mind that you are used to living a certain way. If you let yourself, you’ll easily slip back into your default lifestyle. Part of achieving a new goal means intentionally behaving differently everyday until the new behavior sticks.

With bad habits, like overeating, smoking, or too much drinking, expect a voice inside you to tempt you to “reward yourself” by falling back into the very patterns of behavior you’ve worked so hard to alter. Think about the absurdity of that notion: that’s like saying to someone who is learning how to walk again after an accident, “As a reward for doing all this agonizing work to regain use of your legs, how about you take a break and stay in the wheelchair indefinitely?”

You Won’t See Results Instantly

Doesn’t matter. You resolved to make a change, so take that seriously. Your saboteur will try to tell you that it’s pointless, that you just aren’t cut out for this. It’ll use every setback as a way to try to convince you to go back to your old ways.

This is because it’s scared of your progress. It likes complacency. Ignore the negative voice in your head and keep doing what you know you need to do.

There’s Virtue In Following Through On Your Goals

Even if you don’t see results right away, you should be proud of the fact that you’re living according to your own personal standards. You’re taking away all the ammunition the saboteur uses against you. Besides, you know going in that there will be setbacks. You know what your saboteur will try to tell you. You’re prepared. This is just part of the journey.

Making A Change Isn’t A One Time Decision. It’s A Daily Resolve

Because of this, be sure that your goals are realistic going in. Will you really be the next U.S. President? Probably not. Focus on things you know you can do, and take steps forward daily

What are your goals? What’s holding you back? What is your game plan?

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over sharing

Authenticity is all the rage these days. Businesses are adjusting their workplaces and daily operations in order to accommodate the demand for authentic relationships, business practices and job responsibilities that prospective employees and veteran workers alike are calling for.

I think this is great.  We all need authenticity in our lives, of which our work is a big part. What’s more, a business based on genuine relationships doesn’t just make for more fulfilled workers, it makes for better business.

However, I’ve noticed that some people seem to think that authenticity in their work relations means sharing everything to everyone, all the time. When working with clients, I’ve heard things like, “Margaret, they asked me what I really thought, and I knew it would hurt their feelings if I told them, but I was just being authentic!”

I think this person was trying to demonstrate how they were transparent and honest, even when it was uncomfortable. But being an open book all the time can be burdensome to those around you. You might be perceived as self-involved, even if you really aren’t. You may also lose potential confidantes if you tend to talk openly about other people. Your intention is surely noble, but the way it comes across may do more harm than good.

The mistake behind this approach to authenticity is the assumption that your most unfiltered gut feelings are your true self. While they certainly are part of what makes you you, remember that it is normal and natural to modify your behavior in different situations. This isn’t betraying who you really are, or wearing a fake version of yourself at all! We are complex beings, and have many layers of “self” that are each a part of us.

Authenticity, then, is striving to be your best self for each situation. To do this, you need:

1. Self-awareness. Be aware of your feelings and opinions, and take them seriously. You will have to stand up for your beliefs at some point, and it is often a very hard thing to do. But also be prepared to be wrong, to change your mind, to feel differently about something as time progresses. Part of self-awareness is knowing your own limits.

2. Presence. Be aware of your surroundings, engaged in the present situation before you. A present person is aware of others and their feelings, and is less inclined to become self-involved or unintentionally hurtful.

3. Tact. The 80-20 rule works wonders. Of all the thoughts you have, only about 20 percent of them need to be said. Another good rule: pause, sleep on it and deal with it tomorrow. If you feel the need to share something potentially hurtful, wait a day. More often than not, the issue resolves itself. If not, you’ll at least have a day’s worth of consideration in the bag and you’ll be better prepared to tactfully handle the situation.

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stepping-stones

So many today feel disillusioned with their jobs, and I think much of it can be attributed to thinking about the career path all wrong.

In an article on the Harvard Business Review blog, Nathaniel Koloc, CEO of ReWork, writes that “as many as 70% of working Americans were unfilled with their jobs,” according to a Gallop Poll conducted in 2013. The reason for this is a general sense of disconnection many feel between the work they do and the values they hold. What’s more, a lot of folks don’t see their career path progressing toward anything they find meaningful, and so, they settle for mediocrity as the norm.

This type of thinking can be detrimental, as it leads to boredom, apathy and the very unpleasant feeling of being helpless and stuck. It’s a cycle, too: when you feel stuck and then settle for mediocrity, you’re less motivated and inspired to take risks and chase after what you really want.

A way to rethink this is to challenge the traditional “career ladder” model of professional life. “Sure,” writes Koloc, “many people accept that the career ladder is broken, but most still attempt to increase the ‘slope’ of their career trajectory.” The idea that our careers are linear progressions is pretty deeply embedded in our society. We still assume, despite the rapidly-changing job environment, that our work will steadily move “up” in salary, stature and social impact. Then, when it doesn’t, we become discontent.

Our professional paths are much more like stepping stones laid out horizontally, not ladders. In other words, we have opportunities all around us we often don’t consider when we have the “ladder” mentality, which tells us that in order to be a good worker, we must always being looking up.

A great point Koloc makes is that our interests and passions change as we grow older, and thinking of your career path as a series of stones all around you fits much more aptly with this natural part of human growth. Are you interested in the very same things as you were ten years ago? Probably not, and even if you are, I’ll bet you’ve added a few more interests over the years. Koloc’s point, I think, is that because we change gears all the time as people, there’s no reason to cling onto the career ladder approach to jobs, because even if you get a promotion in the field you’ve been working in for years, your true passions may have shifted away from your work while you were busy on the ladder.

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