Sep 292014
 

use caution when networkingThere has been a lot of news coverage lately relating to Arkansas realtor, Beverly Carter, who went missing after meeting someone at a property she was showing.

While showing a home may be considered part of her occupation, and not necessarily networking, the situation does beg the question “what precautions should I take when networking?”

There are a few tips that can keep you safe, if you are meeting someone you have only met online, or through a phone call:

  1. Always let someone know where you are going, and whom you are meeting. If possible, give them some background on the person you’re meeting with – where you met them, their phone number, any details that may help if you need to describe the person to anyone.
  2. Speaking of background, it’s fairly easy these days to do rudimentary background checks on people you intend to meet. You can start with the phone book, and then use some online tools such as whitepages.com, and other public information websites. Even Google can give you a lot of information if you search the person’s name. Just make sure you have the right person, before you go sharing information with others!
  3. Arrange to meet in a public place. A coffee shop, the library, any place where there are people around.
  4. Use a location-sharing app on your smartphone, such as Moby, which has the capability of tracking your current location and sharing it live.

Of course, not all of these tips will apply in all networking, or meeting, situations. Use your judgement. And if you ever feel in the slightest bit unsafe, or uneasy, leave!

Some of these suggestions may seem “silly” or over-the-top, but they could save your life. Practice safe networking!

photo credit: Chris Campbell via photopin cc

Sep 232014
 

too busy to networkYou know that networking is an important part of building your business. But we all have those days. Those days when you don’t have enough time to scratch yourself, let alone network!

Why don’t you have time to network?

Well, let’s see.

First I have to drop the kids off at school, then I need to run to the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner. I must go to the bank to deposit a check that I got yesterday, then I have to meet a colleague for a working lunch.

After lunch, I promised my neighbor that I’d take her to her doctor’s appointment, and then by the time I get her back home it’ll be time to pick the kids up from school.

As soon as they’ve had a quick snack, I have to take Billy to his piano lesson, and then take Bobby to soccer practice.

And I haven’t even thought about making dinner (though I did remember to go to the store and buy the ingredients!)

Do you really think that by the time I have washed the dinner dishes I want to start networking?

Does your day look like this?

If your day does look like this, and you think you don’t have time to network, you’re seriously mistaken, my friend! If you slump down in your armchair at the end of a day like this and kick yourself for not making any new connections, then you’ve missed 8 – count them – EIGHT opportunities to get your networking on!

How can you incorporate networking into a busy day?

Could you have talked to some other parents who were dropping their kids off at school?

Could you have made some small talk in the grocery store?

Could you have had a chat with the bank teller while you were doing your banking? Imagine how many people she comes into contact with each day!

Could you have made a connection with your server, or the hostess, at lunch?

The doctor’s waiting room is the perfect place to start a conversation – have you noticed how everyone has their nose stuck in a magazine?

Picking the kids up from school offers the same opportunities for networking as dropping them off in the morning.

I’ll give you the piano lesson to take a breather while you listen to Billy’s progress, or just catch up with some emails on your smartphone.

Soccer moms LOVE to talk, so why aren’t you networking at soccer practice?

You see, networking isn’t all about promoting your business. Networking is about making connections. And making conversation. And, who knows, in the midst of that conversation, you may find an opportunity to offer your service, or sell your product.

Networking begins with building relationships. And building relationships starts with a conversation.

When you look at networking as making conversation, it doesn’t seem like work at all, does it?

 

Sep 152014
 

awkward conversationA study by the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto is about to publish a study in the Administrative Science Quarterly showing that most people think that networking is schmoozing, and it makes them feel physically dirty.

If this is the feeling networking gives you, you’re doing it all wrong!

I think that the feeling of discomfort comes from forced networking – when you are making conversation for the sake of conversation. If you don’t find the conversation is flowing naturally when you are trying to get to know someone, there is no point in forcing the connection. Dismiss yourself politely from the conversation and move on!

You’ll find that much better connections are made when conversation flows smoothly, and there is no onus on either party to find topics of interest to discuss.

But, haven’t I failed if I don’t make a connection?

Not at all!

If the person you are trying to connect works for an organization that employs more people, there are plenty more opportunities to network with someone you feel more of a natural connection with.

If you’re trying to get to know an solo businessman or entrepreneur and you’re having a hard time connecting, you could find another entrepreneur in the same field, or simply chalk this one up to “I’m going to have to let this one slide” status.

Not everyone lands in a positive relationship 100% of the time! It may be that in another place, at another time, you’re able to connect in a more positive way. It may be, though, that this connection is just not for you.

As everyone’s mother always said … there are plenty more fish in the sea!

photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc

Just show up

 Networking  Comments Off on Just show up
Sep 012014
 

just show upWoody Allen said that 80 percent of success is showing up. Would you agree?

While I think that there is value in this statement, if you continue just showing up – and then doing nothing – there is no guarantee of success whatsoever!

What you do when you show is what will determine your success.

And, if you don’t know what to do when you show up, why don’t you give me a call at 309.826.2101 and I’ll help you overcome those obstacles!

 
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Be sincere, honest, and open

 Networking  Comments Off on Be sincere, honest, and open
Aug 252014
 

honest, sincere, and openI’m often asked questions such as “How do you know so many people?

There really is no single reason. I make lots of acquaintances, I strive to make more friends and no enemies, and I keep my relationships with people honest and open.

If you get up every morning with the mindset that you are going to have an awesome day, and you maintain that mindset throughout the day, the chances are that you’ll project a positive image to everyone you talk to.

It’s important not to gossip. And especially important to not spread gossip that you may hear about someone else. Don’t participate in anyone’s personal attack on another person or business. If they have issues, let them keep it between themselves and resist the urge to give an opinion. You can ward off such conversations with statements like “I’m sorry,  I don’t know enough about that to given an opinion.”

It’s not hard for someone else’s attitude to impact yours, so make sure you always have a topic you can switch to if a conversation becomes awkward. The switch itself may seem awkward, but it’s better than putting yourself into a situation where you say something you didn’t want to say. If you cannot change the topic, simply walk away from the conversation.

Remember that you do not know who knows who. That may seem like a strange statement, and I’ll explain.

There may be a situation where you overhear a person talking about someone else. The person may be praising the other person, or they may be saying things that are less than flattering. They could be so involved in their conversation that they are oblivious to who is around them, and overlook the fact that anyone hearing the conversation could know the person they are talking about. This can prove embarrassing for both the person talking, and the person overhearing what is being said, especially if the talk is negative.

Honesty is, by all means, the best policy. You don’t want someone to call you out over something they heard you say, and then have to defend yourself if the information you had shared was incorrect. That’s a blow to your credibility.

Be open. Be sincere. And above all, be honest.

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Don’t talk to strangers!

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Aug 182014
 

don't talk to strangersI wouldn’t mind placing a bet that, no matter where in the world you grew up, one of the first pieces of advice you were ever given was don’t talk to strangers.

A stranger. “A person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar.”

I’m not sure if that advice ever becomes null and void as you grow older. I just know that, in order to grow you networking sphere, you must absolutely talk to strangers!

The Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, said “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.” And that is a better approach to networking! Only by talking to strangers can you develop new relationships!

How many strangers have you turned into friends this week?

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It’s Monday. What do I do now?

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Aug 112014
 

mondays at networking 1 on 1What does Monday mean to you?

Do you roll out of bed, reluctantly, with no inspiration to get ready to face the day?

Or do you view Monday as an opportunity to kickstart your week?

For many of us who own our own business, Monday is really just another day. There is no “working week”. Monday is the same as Tuesday, and Tuesday is the same as Wednesday. Even Sunday is just another work day!

But maybe it would inspire you for the rest of the week if you used Monday to set the tone for every other day that you work? What if Monday was your kick-off day.  The day where you got so excited that your enthusiasm just ran over into every other day of the week?

Monday could be your day for new beginnings. For many, it is the start of a new week, so why not do something “new” to honor that? There are 52 Mondays in a year. Here is a year’s worth of new things to try. Try one today, and then every Monday for a year!

  1. Call a new lead.
  2. Have coffee with someone you met at a networking event.
  3. Create a new blog post.
  4. Start a new habit.
  5. Break an old habit.
  6. Eat lunch at a new (to you) restaurant. You never know what connections you’ll make!
  7. Write a note, with paper and pen, to someone who has influenced you.
  8. Take a different route to your destination.
  9. Clean out your email box.
  10. Subscribe to a new blog.
  11. Listen to a new podcast.
  12. Read a chapter of a new business book.
  13. Drink a full glass of water (and then 5 more throughout the day).
  14. Face a fear.
  15. Complete a crossword puzzle.
  16. Try a new social media app.
  17. Make a cold sales call!
  18. Wake up an hour earlier than usual.
  19. List of three things you’re grateful for.
  20. Declutter your desk.
  21. Create a vision board.
  22. Look up an old friend.
  23. Find a word in the dictionary that you’ve never seen before.
  24. Review your budget.
  25. Write an op-ed for your local paper.
  26. Find a volunteer opportunity and sign up.
  27. Smile a lot!
  28. Shop at a local business you haven’t shopped at before.
  29. Meditate.
  30. Listen to a radio station you wouldn’t normally listen to.
  31. Forgive someone.
  32. Make plans to attend a networking event.
  33. Say “Good morning!” to someone you don’t know – and mean it.
  34. Consider exercise. If you have a routine already, add to it, f you don’t exercise. Start!
  35. Go for a walk.
  36. Schedule some alone time.
  37. Create a To Do list.
  38. Start eating healthy food!
  39. Send a gratitude email. Thanks someone!
  40. Memorize a quote or a saying.
  41. Update your Linked In profile.
  42. Book a mini-vacation.
  43. Plan the rest of your week.
  44. Make a note of three things you accomplished last week, and celebrate them!
  45. Put a credit card through the shredder.
  46. Pick a favorite photograph, print it, frame it, and put it on your desk.
  47. Disconnect for an hour. No internet. No phone. Just do it.
  48. Make something!
  49. Check in on your resume and update as needed.
  50. Make a list of things you love.
  51. Listen to classical music.
  52. Make a five-year plan.

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How do I start a conversation?

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Aug 042014
 

how to start a conversation with Bev Edgerton“What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”

We’ve all seen the corny pick up lines – and those are not the lines you want to be pulling out of your magic networking hat when you meet someone you want to get to know better!

It can be difficult to start a conversation with a stranger. Even worse, it can be harder when you know you’re expected to talk to this stranger about yourself!

Be worried no longer, I have some techniques you can use that won’t leave you looking like this is your first time around the networking block – even if it is!

Introduction

Start by confidently walking up the the person you want to talk to. Extend your hand, ready for a solid handshake, and introduce yourself. You may say something like “I don’t believe we’ve met before.” or “Didn’t I see you at the Chamber After-Hourse event?”

Depending on where you are, you may or may not be wearing name tags. If you have name tags, address the person by name. If not, they will most likely introduce themselves. But, if not, it’s perfectly fine to ask for their name.

Conversation topics

You already have something in common with the person you’re talking to. You’re in the same place! Whether it’s a coffee shop where you’re about to get into your first double-shot espresso of the day, or a banquet hall where you’ve come to support your favorite non-profit’s fundraiser. You are in the same place, with a common interest. Coffee. Or the non-profit you support. There you have a talking point.

Remember my cardinal rule of networking. It’s not about you. The only other person in the room with you is the person you are talking to. You may start a conversation by asking how they came to be in the line of business they are in. You may ask if they are local, or if they had to travel to get here. Both the venue and the occasion will have a bearing on where the conversation goes. If you’re at a regular networking meeting that you have never been to before, it’s a good idea to start a conversation by asking someone if they can introduce you to a few people. Everybody loves a newbie!

Ask, ask, ask

Ask for a business card. Ask for referrals. Ask if you can follow up with them at another time. Ask for details on other networking events.  Ask, ask, ask!

That’s all folks!

There are as many ways to start a conversation as there are venues a conversation can be started in.

I always remind people that they are always networking. Whether you’re grocery shopping, or at an organized networking meeting – there’s always an opportunity to start a conversation! You are your own best advertisement. Don’t let it pass you by, or you may end up complaining about “the one that got away”!

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10 benefits of networking

 Networking  Comments Off on 10 benefits of networking
Jul 282014
 

the benefits of networking by Bev Edgerton, Networking 1 on 1, Bloomington ILDo you still need to be persuaded that, if you’re in business, you need to network?

Have you been avoiding networking meetings because you are convinced you can go it alone?

There are many benefits you can gain from networking, here are just 10 to get you started.

1. Networking is fun!

There’s always someone new to meet at a networking event. There’s always someone to talk to, someone to catch up with, someone to talk to about things outside of your business. If networking is not fun for you, you’re doing it wrong!

2. Networking  promotes knowledge-sharing.

Whether you’re networking with someone in the same field of business that you’re in, or someone who is a prospect for your goods or services, everyone benefits from knowledge sharing. You can learn of the next big thing in business apps, or of a potential career opening in a business you have your eye on. People love to talk, and news – good or bad – travels fast, so networking events are the perfect vehicle for sharing knowledge. (Just make sure of your facts before you repeat what you heard!)

3. Networking boosts your profile.

The more people you network with, the more people you know. And the more people you know, the more people know you, your business, and your skills. This, coupled with great testimonials for your business, raises your profile in your networking circles.

4. Networking strengthens connections.

Networking is like the worldwide web – there are so many connections to be made, and our many friends and colleagues are connected in various ways. For example, because my friend Julie knows Jeff, Jordan, and Jamie, that puts me in contact with Jeff, Jordan, and Jamie. And when I introduce Jeff, Jordan, and Jaime to my friend Jasmine, our network becomes stronger. Multiply this by 100 of my connections, and the connection possibilities are limitless!

5. Networking spawns fresh ideas.

You’ve heard the expression “two heads are better than one”? Multiply that by the number of people in your personal network! You’ll never be lost for ideas again when you realize how many minds you have to tap.

6. Networking keeps you “in the know”.

Never fear that you don’t have the latest information. Your network will make sure that you never need to worry about missing a newspaper, or a news story, whether it’s local or global. Someone always knows what’s going on, even before you have to ask!

7. Networking generates referrals.

There are networking groups dedicated to the business of passing referrals. But, even if thats not the sole purpose of your networking group, make sure you are known as the expert in your field. Attend events regularly, and talk about your business, your skills, and your achievements, so other networkers remember that you are the “go to” person when they’re looking for someone in your field of expertise!

8. Networking builds friendships.

Let’s face it, entrepreneurs are a friendly, caring bunch! And some of the people you network with are your best friends. People you enjoy spending time with, and people you can count on to be there when you need them. People with similar interests tend to become friends, and those friendships are strengthened at networking events.

9. Networking highlights your expertise.

Along the same line of thought as #7, when you attend networking events regularly, your name becomes more and more well-known. People may tag your name with your profession, so you’re called out as “Joe the plumber”, or “Helen the social media expert” – your name becomes synonymous with your  business, and that’s a good thing!

10. Networking helps build a support system.

You’ll never have to reach for the Yellow Pages when looking for a tradesman, a business, or a product. Your connections are all you need. Looking to have a tree chopped down? You met the local “tree doctor” at an event a couple of weeks ago! You can turn to your network for an opinion on the best gym to join, for the  bank with the best interest rates on a mortgage loan, for a recommendation on a new car, and when you need to hire someone to take care of your accounts. Word of mouth is a powerful support system, and you’ll learn to rely on the referrals of your network.

photo credit: Patricia Mellin via photopin cc

Are you prepared to network?

 Networking  Comments Off on Are you prepared to network?
Jul 212014
 

Image by kvanhorn @ FlickrWe live in such a hurried world today, that it’s not uncommon to hear stories of last minute packing, last minute cramming for tests and exams, consuming information in bite-sized chunks, and generally taking all the short cuts we can to get where we want to be.

So, why would you be prepared to network? Is it any higher on your list of priorities than, say, the business meeting you have planned for the same day? It’s getting harder and harder to find time for preparation, so we launch ourselves into meetings and events without a second thought.

There are a few things you can do, however, to prepare yourself for a networking event:

  1. Keep a spare box of business cards in the glove box of your car. Avoid the last minute “I don’t have enough cards!” panic by keeping stock at hand. You can never have too many business cards!
  2. Start with the end in mind. Know your goal, and work towards it. Want to meet the CEO of the latest start-up in town? Want to add 2 new people to your mastermind group? Need a plumber to fix a leaky faucet? Are you looking for sales, or do you want to add to your team? Know what you want, then go get it.
  3. Keep a mental list of questions to ask. It’s too easy to revert to the “umm” and “ahh” phase when you can’t think what to say! Think of something outside of the realm of business. Aim to gather some personal facts, but don’t get too personal! “Do you live here, or did you have to travel?”, “How long have you been selling widgets?”, “I see you’re wearing a Rotary badge, how long have you been a Rotarian?” Friendly chatter, but not invasive questions. Get to know them better!
  4. Carry a notebook. Ever find yourself losing a head-full of information, simply because you didn’t make notes? We’ve all done it. We’ve all scratched our heads trying to remember who it was that told us about the changes happening over at that realtor’s office, or repeated a phone number over and over, trying to commit it to memory. There is no shame in writing things down! Put a notebook and pen in your glove box next to that box of business cards, or use an app on your smartphone to take notes.
  5. Practice your elevator pitch. You’ve heard this before. You’re in an elevator going to the 8th floor. The elevator stops at the 2nd floor and Bill Gates gets in. He asks you what you do for a living. You have 7 floors to tell him your story. And …. GO ….

Those are just a few things to consider when preparing to network. And they really don’t require much forethought on your part.

Now, get out there and network!

Image courtesy of kvanhorn @ Flickr