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Power Networking (54)

Here is a collection of blog postings covering all aspects of business networking. Many of them are versions of questions originally answered on Quora.com by Rae Stonehouse. Enjoy!

If you would like to learn more about a specific aspect of business networking, drop us a line!

Yes, it is most certainly possible, however by not having a website you are losing out on a strategy to build your network.

I don’t believe not attending graduate school or working in a job should hinder you in any way getting out there and developing your professional network.

You describe yourself as a freelancer but don’t provide any details as to what field you’re working in.

Probably not! Does not having 500+ connections on LinkedIn make a difference? Possibly!

 

Whether they are helpful or not depends on what your purpose is for attending the networking event in the first place.

Thursday, 30 May 2019 15:26

Networking with Different Careers

How do you describe yourself to others a networking events when you have several different active careers?

I have faced this challenge many times myself. As a registered nurse working in mental health as my main career, I've usually had several side-hustles on the go at the same time.

When I attend business networking event, I'm usually there to promote one of my businesses or organizations that I'm involved with rather than my nursing position.

In some of the books I have written I use a system I call ‘how high does your elevator go?’ The concept is that buildings have elevators that go to different heights. Some may go to 2 floors some may go to 20 floors. Some buildings may even have multiple elevators.

How "professional" should I be when networking with other professionals?

The term ‘professional’ is nebulous at best. What may be considered professional in one profession may not in another.

Is it a good idea to network with random people you share interests with on LinkedIn?

I would say that it is neither good nor bad.

There can be value in linking to people who share common interests. It can be a good way to build your network and extend your reach. Opportunity often arises from people who share common interests.

I would suggest starting by changing your thinking on the word ‘friend.’ Friends are with Facebook.

Far better to think of your Linkedin connections as ‘colleagues’ or even possibilities.

Thursday, 24 January 2019 20:40

Is networking with people easy?

Is networking with people easy?

Yes, no, maybe, sometimes, always. This question doesn’t elicit a one-size-fits all answer.

Those who are extroverted and outgoing thrive on social activities like networking. However, not every extrovert is outgoing.

This question seems to have been kicking around for a while awaiting some new answers. According to some researchers, over 40% of Americans describe themselves as being shy.

This seems to be on the increase. Just take a look at any bus stop where you could have 20 people with their smart phone earbuds in place and trying to avoid making eye contact with any of the others at the stop.

There are no benefits inherent to a meetup.

Any that are gained are due to your ability and willingness to leverage a specific meetup and what it has to offer.

“Do you come here often?” works for me. Sure it’s a sleazy pick-up line but when I deliver it there is no mistake thinking that I’m on the move.

I’m not a believer in using catch phrases. I believe that it is more important to have a short elevator pitch that piques the other person’s interest so they want to learn more about you. I also think it is important to be a good listener and an interviewer.

No, I disagree with the statement on several levels. Networking is one component that can lead to success.

Even the term ‘success’ is ambiguous. To one person it may mean that they have achieved fame and fortune. On the other end of the continuum, success to a person suffering from clinical depression may mean they have been able to get up out of bed that day and have a shower.

This is similar to some questions I have answered in the recent past:

First tip, don’t collect business cards.

A collection of business cards takes up room and doesn’t serve a purpose. Think quality over quantity.

There likely isn’t a definitive answer to this question.

Each and everyone of us is different. While there are difficulties that many networkers face, it isn’t universal.

There is likely a lot less difference between going for coffee whether you are in academia or business, then you think there is. Your approach should be professional in either instance.

Going for coffee is an opportunity to get to know the other person. The objective is to find if you share common interests and if there is any opportunity to collaborate on a project or serve as a resource for each other. If you were in business, it may lead to a joint venture.

I wouldn’t consider any of your suggestions as ‘best’ approaches to network as a job seeker, including your ‘besides leveraging existing comments’.

Your suggestions are all passive in nature. As a job-seeker, you really do need to get out there and market yourself via business networking i.e. face to face, belly to belly as the saying goes.

Is it important? That depends! It may not be important to everybody.

If you are a ‘go to work’ and ‘keep your nose to the grindstone’ type of person, it may not be. There are many shy introverts that don’t see the value of networking or possess the skills to do so.

If you are bragging when you are networking, you aren’t doing it right.

If you are not self-promoting when networking … you aren’t doing it right either.

Bragging and self-promoting are not the same thing.

Tuesday, 07 February 2017 08:44

Who're best business networking professionals?

Simply answered, the best business networking professionals are those that network professionally.

Being an effective business networker involves quite a few of what might be considered soft skills. Good conversation skills, empathy, listening skills and a genuine interest to help others are a few that readily come to mind.

27 or 67, it doesn’t really matter, the same principals and strategies apply when it comes to networking.

You ask what the best way to network ‘when you don’t know many people.’ You have identified the gist of the problem i.e. you don’t know many people. The short and simplistic answer to would be to get to know more people.

My first suggestion would be to take the word ‘college’ out of the equation. You may be currently attending college, but that is only one aspect of the potential network you have to connect with.

Don’t discount the value of networking with family, friends, neighbours, businesses and community resources that you frequent. Potential connections are all around us if we keep our eyes open to opportunity.

Teddy Burriss offers some excellent tips on how to strengthen your network. I had to agitate my wee gray cells to come up with some suggestions that would add to the discussion.

One of the things that I have found when it comes to building and strengthening business relationships is to actively discover the common interests that you and the other person have.

Friday, 27 January 2017 08:23

Can you do too much networking?

This question appears to be looking for a definitive answer, where only subjective responses will be provided.

If one defines ‘networking’ as the face-to-face or online interaction with another person, for business purposes and they spend all their time meeting people, at the expense of doing other activities involved in running a business, then perhaps you can do too much networking.

This question raises subjective responses.

From my perspective, of those business professionals that I know, I would say that they don’t.

A comprehensive answer requires exploration of the terms ‘good’ and ‘networking.’ And ‘business professionals’ for that matter.

Effective? The risk is in not coming off like you’re using a pick-up line.

I tend to use situational comments.

I’m not adverse to using “come here often?” It can elicit a chuckle or two and open the door to conversation.

Fuel Your Mental EngineA couple quick suggestions would be to check out Eventbrite & Meetup.

I don’t know where you live of course, but both of these, offer access to special interest communities and may very well be local for you.

Another suggestion might be to see if you have any community recreation programs e.g. YMCA/YWCA, as they often have non-academic programs.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016 07:32

What are good networking events?

Power Networking handshakeThat really depends on what benchmarks you use to determine what is good or not.

I have heard of some business people that say if you get more than two free drink tickets with your admission, then it is a good networking event. Some use the food as a measuring stick, assuming there is any food served.

If you are actively looking for prospects, a networking event that provides lots of people to work through, i.e. by sheer numbers, a larger event is more likely to be beneficial to you.

If you are an outgoing person and confident in your schmoozing and networking, any size of networking event will probably work for you.

Thursday, 01 September 2016 07:28

What are the benefits of like-minded connections?

Power Networking HandshakeIt might be helpful to think in terms of the mutual benefits of like-minded connections. While being like-minded, some may call it resonating, certainly makes it easier to communicate your desire to the other person, there is great value in offering something in return.

Being like-minded doesn’t mean that they are exactly the same as you. We all have our own life-experiences, wants, desires, hopes, prejudices and biases. Even though we are like-minded on specific topics, we are still quite different.

Far too many people in business have the idea that they need to get something from somebody, whether at a cost or free. A different approach, as promoted by Dr. Ivan Misner of BNI (Business Networking International) is that of ‘givers gain.’ The concept simply put, is that if you give freely to others, you will receive something of equal or greater value in return.

I'm trying to understand the entire market of "professional networking groups" including what are the largest groups, how many people attend, what professions utilize professional networking etc.  Thanks in advance for your help.

~~~~~

From my experience, there is very little research, if any on the subject of professional networking groups. Just to clarify the question a little I would expect that you are asking about groups where professionals network, rather than networking groups that are professional in nature. Professional Associations, might meet that criteria.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016 07:15

What is the best way to network?

Couple Shaking HandsI don’t think that there is an absolute answer to this question. The answer probably lies in one’s ability to take advantage of different networking models.

If you are a shy introvert, utilizing the internet in advance to learn more about the people you are going to be networking with, reducing your anxiety and building your self-confidence, then Linked in can be of use. I outline a system I created in my book Power Networking for Shy People: Tips & Techniques for Moving from Shy to Sly!

Thursday, 11 August 2016 07:10

What are some speed networking tips?

Speed NetworkingQuestion as asked on Quora.com and answered by Rae Stonehouse. “What are the speed professional networking tips?”

I’m not sure how to interpret this question. One way would be that the question is looking for tips from professional speed networkers. This would presume that there is a subsector of elite networkers that consider themselves professionals. If so, I would expect that they are self-proclaimed professionals. That leads me to wonder that if they are so good, why do they have to keep producing more connections? Wouldn’t it be better to build quality relationships with the number of connections they already have i.e. quality over quantity?

Another perspective is that the question is asking for speed networking tips from business professionals that are successful using the format of speed networking. I’ll go with the latter.

Speed networking is an organized event where the expectation is that all of the participants will have access to a greater number of personal interactions then they would on their own or at a typical, non-organized meet and greet.

Monday, 08 August 2016 06:56

What is the best self-introduction?

Power Networking HandshakeA one-size-fits-all response doesn’t work with this question. The best self introduction is the one that you are comfortable delivering and that serves your purpose.

In my article How High Does Your Elevator Go?, I suggest that you prepare several different versions of your elevator pitch i.e. self-introduction, as well as different time lengths.

Sunday, 07 August 2016 06:49

How Do I Get Better at Networking?

Nervous WomanInteresting answers on the question of “How do I get better at networking?

A few years ago I asked myself the very same question. There are some people that will tell you that they absolutely love networking. They will say something like “It’s so much fun!” Yet, others, will tell you that they would rather have a root canal than attend a business networking event. As a shy introvert, networking was a painful activity for me. I’ve recently experienced a root canal and believe me … networking is much less painful.

John Jantsch from Duct Tape Marketing says that “networking isn’t something that you do before work or after work … it is work!” You don’t need to network to be in business butyou do if you want to stay in business!

Networking is not a normal and easy activity for many people, especially if you are shy. It is a skill that must be learned and practiced. In business and in life, a majority of our success comes from talking to people and involving them in your ideas, plans, or projects.

Sunday, 07 August 2016 06:38

I would like to introduce …

Let me introduce ... A common anxiety-producing situation in a shy networker is when a third or more persons join the conversation and it falls upon them to introduce everyone.

Who do you introduce first? Do you use first and last names? Are you required to provide collateral information about each of the people that you introduce?

Sunday, 07 August 2016 06:27

Top 15 Networking No-No’s

Networking No NosThroughout my publications I have provided tips & techniques to help improve your networking effectiveness. I thought it would be interesting and perhaps entertaining to take a look at the subject from a different perspective i.e. what you really shouldn't do.

These aren't provided in any order of priority. See if you recognize any of them from your adventures in networking land.

Referral Groups Two women networkingYou have done your research and decided upon a referral group that works for you. So now what? How do you get value out of your membership?

Strategy One: Develop your 30 second to one minute elevator pitch. Most groups will allow you that much time to promote yourself. Practice saying it out loud, even to family members or the family pet if they will listen. The intent is that you become comfortable saying it without getting nervous. This will go a long way in reducing the performance anxiety that often accompanies shyness.

HandshakeMeeting somebody for the first time as in a networking situation can often leave you stuck for words. Your counterpart delivers their elevator pitch and then as they pause to catch their breath they utter “so what do you do?” You go on to deliver your well rehearsed pitch for your business. But did the two of you really communicate?

Communication is a two way process. While the other person is sharing their story, you need to be listening closely to them. This isn’t the time to be practicing your own story in your head. This is the time to listen. Imagine that there will be a test after your partner delivers their personal story. Besides trying to figure out what their business is about, you should be listening for statements or beliefs that are similar to yours. Perhaps you have had similar experiences as they have described.

CyberbullyIf you are actively marketing and promoting yourself on-line as a part of your networking efforts the likelihood of encountering a cyber bully increases exponentially. It is simply a matter of numbers, the more people that you network with the higher the odds of encountering one.

Cyber bullying has featured prominently lately in the media with the unfortunate suicides of several teens in North America. As adults we aren’t immune to the same tactics that these bullies use.

So what is a “cyberbully”?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia … Cyberbullyingis the use of the Internet and related technologies to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner.

Name DroppingDoes this sound familiar? You are at a business networking session and you are captivated by a speaker who wants to regale you with a litany of important people that they have supposedly recently spent time with. “Oh, the other day I had coffee with the Mayor …” “I was just saying the very same thing to my good friend XXX, you know that he owns half the town.” “Yeah, my best friend is the Crown Attorney and she was telling me …”

To coin a phrase … “blah, blah, blah, yaddey, yaddey, yaddey!”

Close Encounters of the networking kindHave you ever wondered how close to stand to another person when conversing in a 1 to 1 at a business networking session? Okay, maybe I do have too much spare time as they say but I am sure that this is a question that many people have asked.

While I don’t have a definitive answer, I do have some thoughts on the matter. Many factors including gender, culture, trust, past experiences and self-confidence come into play.

Looking at it from a self-defence, self-preservation perspective, it is helpful to think of each of us having an invisible circle or a safety zone around us. As a preservation measure we tend to keep strangers outside of our safety zone and only let people we trust or are comfortable with into our comfort zone.

Business card exchangeIt can be a great feeling when coming home from a networking event and looking at the stack of business cards you have collected. You even spoke at length to many of the card-donators. Some, it can be a little difficult to recall who they actually were. “Now was he the tall fellow with the bad hair piece …. or was he…?” You’ve probably experienced that scenario more than once. And you know what … perhaps some of the business people that you gave your precious business card to have been thinking something similar. Hopefully not about your bad hair though.

Talking on TelephoneI am sure that most of us have heard of the practice of reading a message scrawled on a public restroom wall of “For a good time call …” There is a usually a phone number accompanying the message. In all likelihood the individual mentioned is not aware of the advertising being done on their behalf nor would they likely agree with it. More than likely it was scrawled by an adolescent male, driven by testosterone and thinking it was pretty funny. Having not spent any time in the women’s restroom I can only assume that this practice only happens in the men’s.

If the individual named actually wrote the message in question well I guess it could be attributed to some savvy targeted marketing.

Serendipidty isn't a networking plan.I’ve often heard it said in reference to “self-help” books … “If you get only one gem or a useful tip from a book it makes all of your reading time worthwhile.” While that may be true, it can have you spending a lot of time with your nose in a book.

The same principal can be applied … inefficiently … to your networking activities … “One contact can make a world of difference in your business …” In essence you are leaving your success to serendipity.

Serendipity, or leaving everything to chance, while awe-inspiring when it works, is not something that you can control or count on.

So Whats Your Story?“Nice day eh?”

“To bad about the Canucks!”

“Isn’t this weather something?”

We have heard them all before … meaningless comments that are more likely to end a conversation than to advance it.

For the many people that we encounter during our daily travels perhaps this is all that is needed. If we had long drawn out conversations with everyone, we likely wouldn’t accomplish everything that we need to in a day.

Johnny Appleseed knew what he was doing ...Legend has it that Johnny Appleseed traveled the American countryside spreading apple seeds randomly, everywhere he went.

In fact, according to Wikipedia, he planted nurseries rather than orchards, built fences around them to protect them from livestock, left the nurseries in the care of a neighbor who sold trees on shares, and returned every year or two to tend the nursery.

Many people’s business networking activities can be a lot like randomly spreading those apple seeds. Some might grow but most likely left to their own, they will fail to develop and eventually die off.

Relationships need to be nurtured. Often the word cultivated is used to describe what needs to take place for a relationship to grow. Both words are really describing an active interest, desire and taking action oriented steps to develop a relationship with another individual.

So how does one cultivate a relationship? I have some cynical colleagues who would say that would treat them the same way as you would cultivate mushrooms. You keep them in the dark and feed them BS [male cow manure.] I would suspect that they have few quality connections. I certainly wouldn’t want to be connected to them with that attitude.

Let’s leave the agriculture analogy for a while and go to back to the question of how does one cultivate a relationship?

You get back what you give ...I recently noticed the often used saying “You Get Back What You Give” written in large letters on a roadside display board at a local church. Perhaps they are stating the obvious but then one’s base personality of being an optimist or a pessimist might come into play. Do you see the world as one of opportunity or as one of danger and threats?

If you are a believer in the law of attraction you have likely also heard the sayings “you reap what you sew” or “what you think about comes about.” Dr. Ivan Meisner, Founder of BNI describes this as the “Givers Gain” principal. The law of reciprocity says that if you provide a service or favour for another they will likely feel obligated to return the favour. I have read somewhere that it creates a tension in the individual who has received a favour to the extent that they feel a discomfort until they have returned the favour and evened the score. This may be at a subconscious level and they wouldn’t even be aware of why they are doing it. 

Become a thought leaderWikipedia defines a thought leader as being an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.

Would being recognized as a leader in your field or in your business make a difference to your bottom line? Is it possible for mere mortals, average people like you and I to become thought leaders?

I believe that it is not only possible to become a leader in your specific field but that it is in the reach of most of us to do so. With my keen interest in developing my business networking skills I am working towards becoming one of those thought leaders. I write about practical networking skills development for shy people as well as those that have some networking skills and want to improve their success rate.

Be the Red CarAt a recent networking event I made comment to a woman that since having met her within the past year I was starting to see her at a lot of different events. She replied “Yeah me to. You are the red car!”

I immediately recognized the red car reference from the Law of Attraction. The idea being that if you were to buy a red car or even were thinking about buying one, then you would start noticing red cars everywhere. The Universe recreates itself for you. Up until that point red cars were not in your range of focus.

Friday, 05 August 2016 08:11

Power Networking Secret Revealed!

Power Networking handshakeOkay, if you are thinking that is a pretty bold statement to make, I would agree with you.

Any time that you see the words “secret” and “revealed” together in the same sentence, I would advise caution. It is usually followed by a request for payment for the content of the secret to be revealed to you. I am going to reveal the secret to you for free, after all, it was given to me at no charge.

The secret to being a power networker is … [drum roll please] ACTASIF. Say what?

Simply put, to be a power networker i.e. one who is effective in their networking activities, act as if you already are successful. You may find it somewhat anticlimactic to hear this one word secret if you haven’t heard the expression before. Another way of saying it would be “fake it until you make it.” Or with a bit of a stretch it could be “mind over matter.”

Thursday, 04 August 2016 07:49

How High Does Your Elevator Go?

  • 30 seconds? 60 seconds … 10 minutes?
  • Different buildings?

Power Networking HandshakeNote: The following is an excerpt from Power Networking for Shy People: Tips & Techniques for Moving from Shy to Sly! By Rae Stonehouse.

The buzzword for conducting business effectively in the new millennium may very well prove to be “networking.” In turn, the key element of a networking interaction is the elevator pitch or elevator speech as some would call it. We used them as children … “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine!”

Well perhaps not quite the same but at its essence it’s an opportunity to show your stuff and to learn about the other person. Assuming they follow the rules of course.

Nervous WomanThere would seem to me to be at least three separate elements that need addressed in answering this commonly asked question i.e. 1) introversion 2) networking successfully & 3) career.

There seems to be a belief, at least in North America, that being an extravert in the business world, is better than being an introvert. Extravert is good, introvert is bad. Or it would seem that many extraverts would have us believe this and many of my fellow introverts have bought into the myth. Introversion vs extraversion is merely a way to describe where you get your energy from. You might say it is how you recharge your batteries.

Extraverts thrive on activity and being part of and participating in larger groups of people. Some love the crowd scene and being the centre of attention. Good for them! Introverts on the other hand prefer solitary activities, certainly quieter ones. Its hard to recharge when the extraverted world is focused on hustle and bustle. As an introvert, I require a certain amount of ‘me time’ to recharge and participate in the numerous creative activities I have underway at any given time. I will go on record as saying that I would much rather party with an extravert though!