Saturday, April 25, 2009

What is the impression you leave with your networking contacts?

When we are networking we have several opportunities to make an impression on our new contact and how they will remember us. What impressions are you leaving?

The first impression we leave is visual. What are you saying by the way you dress; the way you walk; your facial expression? It should go without saying that you must be neat and clean both personally and with your clothing. When you walk are you upright and confident or slouched and meek? Are you smiling or frowning? It is amazing how many people do not take these basics into consideration and then can't understand why they receive a less than enthusiastic reception.

Your second impression is your handshake and greeting. This basic courtesy conveys an important message and you want this to be the correct message. When you meet someone what does your handshake say about you and what is your verbal greeting? Are they strong and convey strength or are they meek and convey weakness? Depending upon who you are talking to; one may work better than the other, but overall a strong handshake and voice will serve you best.

Your third impression is the way you talk and express yourself. How you present yourself in the way you speak and what you say is critical. You need to be clear and confident because people are attracted and respond to individuals that exude confidence. In general we like leaders as long as they are not overbearing and demeaning. Do you present as a leader or as a follower?

In today's economy people are looking for people with confidence and leadership. There is a tremendous amount of concern and uncertainty and people are looking for people that are willing to lead and not caving in to the predominant mentality.

So let’s review three steps to a good impression:

1. Present a great visual by the way you dress, walk, and your facial expression.
2. Have a strong handshake and friendly greeting.
3. Speak clearly and confidently. Demonstrate that you are leader and someone people can follow.

Happy Networking!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Guage your contacts before you use your network

Sometimes people make mistakes with their networks by assuming that they know their contacts better than they really do. The mistake is making requests for things that are unreasonable considering the level of the friendship.

For example if you want an introduction to an executive at a company, make sure that the person you are asking has those connections. Just because your contact works or worked for the company doesn't mean that they are in a position to arrange that introduction. Making such a request could jeopardize or even destroy your relationship. Don't put your contacts on the spot by making a request they cannot fulfill.

Remember that your contact may be able to come through for you, but it will be on their timetable. Don't expect immediate compliance. Your contact may have to wait for the right time or opportunity. You don't want your contact jeopardizing their position simply to help you.

If you are making a request do it in a way that your contact can turn you down without embarrassing themselves while still wanting to do whatever they can for you. Human nature is that they will want to help, as long as you aren't being a jerk. Your request may make them uncomfortable and you need to give them a way out.

Follow these steps when planning your request.

1. Understand your contacts abilities and limitations.
2. Don't put your contact on the spot where they need to immediately respond to your request.
3. Don't make your contact feel that they have no choice but to fulfill your request.

Happy Networking!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Are you participating in networking events?

Depending upon your method of networking; events can play a key role in your success. One thing that you need to consider however, is your selection of networking events.

If your networking events are all similar in nature, you will most likely be running into all the same people. Obviously you need to select your events with care so that you have the opportunity to encounter your desired audience, but you do need to vary the type of events to increase your exposure.

Expanding your selection of events broadens your list of contacts and therefore your opportunities to achieve your desired networking goals.

If you really want to be effective at events, get involved. How do you do this:

1) Offer to help at the registration desk so you have the opportunity to find out who is there and meet more of the participants.
2) Offer to be a greeter and welcome participants. You can help them by answering questions and directing them plus you have the opportunity to introduce yourself and give a little elevator speech.
3) Offer to introduce the speaker, another opportunity for you to give your elevator speech.

Keys to effective event networking:

1) Don't select all of the same types of events.
2) Select your events wisely so that you increase your chances for making the right connections.
3) Get involved so you can meet people and have them meet you.

Happy Networking!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Power of 150

In his book "The Tipping Point", Malcolm Gladwell discusses the power of 150. What he refers to is the maximum size group for effective communications. He uses examples from ages past as well as from today in describing how communications break down once any organization: religious, social, and even work exceed this size.

One of the major examples is the company WR Grace and Company: long believed one of the great success stories in business. WR Grace follows the power of 150 rule in the sizing of all their operations. Their plants have a maximum of 150 employees. That's not just 150 in manufacturing, the front office, or some department. It is the maximum for that particular business unit. Why would that be? In his research Gladwell learned that keeping this as a maximum allows engineering to communicate with marketing, production, sales, research, and what ever other groups more effectively and responsively to problems, customer requests, market changes, or anything else that arises.

Gladwell also talks about the size of groups back to prehistoric days and their ability to support each other becoming problematic when the groups grew too large. When that happened there were food shortages and other problems to the extent that the groups would automatically splinter off to a more manageable size. But enough of that.

How can we apply this to our network? When you follow the Pareto or 80/20 rule you should limit your "A" group to 150. This is your critical group, the one that is the most important, and therefore requires and deserves the most attention. Keep the size manageable so you can communicate with enough effectiveness and timeliness that you maintain a great relationship.

Find other ways to communicate with the rest of your contacts using email newsletters, blogs, discussion groups, and web sites to keep them relatively current on your activities. If you are doing the right things you will have people in this category continuing to reach out to you but your efforts are will be more appropriately directed.


  1. Keep your "A" list focused and no larger than 150.
  2. Communicate on a regular basis and look for things that you can send to your "A" group.
  3. Communicate to those that are not on your "A" list through email newsletters, blogs, discussion groups, and websites.
Happy networking!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Do You Follow the Leader?

Okay, I know that sounds a little crazy, but I was just read something on LinkedIn and it made me think about this.

If we choose our leaders wisely, it's a great idea to do what they do, because that can lead you to what they have.

If you want to be the best salesperson in your company, you need to know who holds that position today, learn what that person did to achieve the lead position, and then follow they path they followed. I don't know that I have followed this advice very well myself, but I heard it long ago on a Zig Ziglar tape.

At the time Zig was not doing well as a salesperson in his company and one day the best salesman happened by and said "Zig, I have never seen so much wasted talent as I do in you!" Can you imagine your hero, the person you look up to making such a statement? How depressing would that be? It would definitely be an eye opener.

We frequently make the mistake of spending time and following the lead of the wrong people. If we want to have success, we need to talk to those that are achieving success, not those that are lamenting being unsuccessful. The unsuccessful person associates success with luck; successful people may say the same, but upon further investigation we find that it wasn't luck, it was hard, specific work that allowed them to achieve their success.

To achieve the same success you need to emulate the actions and do the things successful people do.

So here are the steps:

  1. Identify the person that has or is what you want to be.
  2. Find out what that person did and copy, copy, copy, and copy some more.
  3. Don't waste your time with negative people that do not share or encourage your goal.
Happy Networking!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Networking is about connecting, but ...

Are you spending a lot of time trying to connect and build your contact's list? That's been an approach of mine in the past, but it's a lot of work; worthwhile, but still a lot of work.

The other day I received an e-mail from a recruiter saying that she had seen my name cross her desk a couple of times and felt that SHE needed to connect with me. It turns out we were both members of the same group and what she saw was a posting of mine in the discussion group.

This started me wondering how can I do this even more? What can I do to entice people to want to connect with me, so that they are doing the work, and all I am doing is assessing whether the contact is one that I want?

It's called branding! It's called making me so valuable to others to the extent that they want to connect with me. It's called driving people to me. It's called having others tell people that they should connect with me because I am a valuable connection.

This is not about self-aggrandizing; it's about my providing so much value that others are compelled to seek what I have to offer.

Do you ever learn or hear about products, food, movies, or assorted other things that you must have and will do whatever it takes to obtain that item? Of course you do, because you have associated a value with the item that drives you to do whatever it takes to obtain it.

That is what you want to do for yourself. You want to make yourself valuable to the point that people will take the necessary steps to locate and connect.

There are two major benefits to this approach to networking 1) your time is spent creating value for others so that they want to connect and 2) you don't have to spend your time making connections, instead the connections come to you.

Here are the steps:
  1. Create value that others want.
  2. Do things that drive others to you rather than your having to constantly be seeking others.
  3. Create value that cause referrals to you.
Happy Networking!

Are You Giving Those that Want to Connect Every Chance to Connect

It amazes me when I see someone send an e-mail or hear a voice mail that does a poor job of leaving information for the contacted person to follow up. Just because you sent e-mail doesn't guarantee that the other person wants to reply by e-mail. And likewise, just because you called doesn't necessarily mean that they want to follow up with a call.

Here are some connection ideas:

  1. If you leave a voice mail identify whether it is your office or cell number (they may need to text a response because they are not in a position to call).
  2. Identify yourself and provide your phone number both at the beginning and the end of your call and at the end speak slowly, repeat your name, and repeat your phone number twice. There is nothing more frustrating than having to listen to an entire message multiple times to get the information correct.
  3. In your e-mails provide contact information for e-mail and phone responses. You may even provide your mailing address (discretionary, if it is your home address).
What you don't want to do is miss a response because you didn't provide the necessary options. Phone and e-mail etiquette are critical to good communications.

Happy networking!

Friday, April 3, 2009

What Can You Tell Me About Your Network?

This blog is all about networking and understanding your network. Therefore, I ask you what can you tell me about your network?

  1. How many people in your network have you contacted in the past day, week, month, and yes even year?
  2. What is the nature of your contact?
  3. Did the information benefit your contact?
  4. Have you taken time to classify your contacts?
  5. Does Pareto's Law/Principle (80:20 rule) apply to your network? I bet it does.
  6. Where do you focus your time in your networking activities?
  7. What is the purpose of your network (an upcoming blog article)?
  8. Is your network there for you or there for both of you?
  9. Do you look at the contacts belonging to your networking contacts?
  10. Do you share your own contacts or do you keep them private?
  11. If you are on LinkedIn have you performed any analysis of your contacts?
  12. How many different companies are represented by your contacts?
  13. Who are the connectors in your contact's list?
  14. Who are the mavens in your contact's list?
  15. Who are the salespeople in your contact's list?
If these last two questions are unfamiliar I recommend that your read:

Do an analysis of your network to improve both your understanding of your network and your understanding of how you can benefit each other.

Happy networking!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Networking works!

The attached article came across my desk from a friend. It was actually the second time I had heard the story.

Read the article and learn how networking saved this family.

Here is an employment success story from a recent college graduate.

Did you know that your Church is not only great for prayer, but also for networking.

This networking success story demonstrates the importance of positioning yourself for the future.

Happy Networking!


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