All Articles Tagged "networking"
Some of us operate like we have tunnel vision. You get to the office, turn on your computer, sit, work until day’s end, and go home. Repeat the following day.
Instead, take a moment every once in a while to say hello to your next door neighbor. You don’t have to talk about something every day. And hopefully, this isn’t a forced interaction where you’re bringing up the weather or what you’re eating for lunch each time. But you should take a moment to speak with the person (or people) in your vicinity about what’s happening on the job, a great book you read, or a movie you saw.
Speaking with your colleagues makes you accessible. When you’re accessible, you’re asked to participate in projects, you’re asked for your expertise and you’re invited to join in on different office activities. All of this paves the way for you to interact with people who might open doors to other opportunities, whether at the company you currently work for or with other outside interests and organizations.
Basically this is another form of networking. And as we’ve stressed here time and again, networking is an important part of the career development process.
So take a moment on your way to the water cooler to say hello to the person at the next desk over. It may be the start of something good.
I’m sure many of you have heard the saying, “It’s not what you know but who you know.”
Many of the career opportunities that have come my way have been because of connections I’ve actively made (and maintained) in the past. For me, networking has been an extremely effective way of advancing professionally.
Here are five ways that you can become a better networker in 2014.
Networking is intimidating for more people then you may think. In almost every survey or report on the biggest professional fears, or fears in general, speaking in public and networking are sure to be close to the top of the list. Being driven by the fear of stepping out of your comfort zone to network could cost you opportunities for professional growth.
With networking, you are not only making professional connections, but cultivating valuable relationships that could help build your career or even your personal life. With this in mind, here are a few tips to overcome the fear of networking that could help you lose the intimidation and gain great contacts.
As important as networking is, it’s important to stay fresh on the ways to ensure you and your business get in front of new people and that you develop lasting and lucrative relationships. The benefits of meeting and working with new people are a major factor in a company’s success. Keep these three things in mind to make promoting yourself a cinch at the next networking event:
Describe Your Business In One Sentence. Being able to describe your business without taking 20 minutes is critical. Avoid buzzwords and jargon however when trying to bring your description down in length. Instead imagine telling a third-grader what your company does. Focus on the benefits of your company when formulating the description.
Listen More Than You Talk. The truth is listening can open doors. At your next event, be sure and ask questions about other people’s businesses. While the person is happy to answer, you’ll be able to gain insight into what they need and how you might be able to work together.
Focus On Quality, Not Quantity. Remember, networking isn’t about collecting all the cards in the room. It isn’t a reverse game of BS. Networking is about making real connections with people. Pay attention to what you can give the other person and not solely on what you can get from them. In this way you’ll find true, lasting relationships that will naturally push your business to higher levels of success.
I was well into my mid-twenties before I heard of “the black tax.” In fact, I discovered the concept of “the black tax” when I was watching the movie Something New. In this particular scene, Sanaa Lathan, a talented accountant, was on a date with Blair Underwood, another ambitious professional. They were commiserating about life on the “plantation” (meaning the corporate structure), and how they had to incur “the black tax.” This meant that as black folk in predominately white settings, they had to work twice as hard, be twice as good, and be more on top of things than their white counterparts.
The belief in a “black tax” does a disservice to us emotionally and psychologically, which ultimately negates the underlining impetus of the tax, which is to make us more productive, creative, and professionally outstanding.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not to say that institutional racism, microaggressions, and stereotype bias are not in full effect in most, if not all, workplace settings. They are. Even white boys with criminal records have a better chance of getting employment than black men with no criminal past and several degrees.
So, I get it.
I just think we need to reframe our energy and thinking around this “black tax” so it works to our benefit, not our detriment. Since we already know what it is like to grind, hustle, and be extraordinary, usually behind a computer and alone, let’s use this skill set to build and sustain relationships that will lead to both personal fulfillment and professional success instead of consistently leaving unrecognized and underappreciated.
Let’s grind around organizing opportunities to learn, connect, and grow with people that look like us in and outside of our workplaces in a strategic and meaningful way.
I am currently reading Never Eat Alone and Other Secrets to Success One Relationship At a Time by Keith Ferrazzi. Ferrazzi says it is important to leverage relationships in all of your social and professional using a Network Action Plan. To create one, divide a blank piece of paper into thirds or a Word Document into three columns. Under the first column, list three to five of your immediate and long-term career goals.
For each of your goals in the first part, name one or two people that can help you achieve this goal in the second column. Start thinking about people that you already know and people that you would like to know.
Finally, in the third column, start thinking about the best way to reach out to the people listed in column two. If the gatekeeper to your goal is someone you know, a simple call and request may be all that you need to help you reach your goal. On the other hand, if you realize that the person you need to talk to is someone you don’t know, then you will have to start small and build their trust. Try reaching out with a genuine compliment about the work that they do via email or at an in-person gathering, providing them with ideas that can make their jobs easier, or introducing them to people that can help them with their personal or professional goals.
We don’t have to own “the black tax” in the way that it has been presented to us. As a culture, we invented the remix. We took scraps and made it soul food. We took our plight and made hip-hop. The black tax? This ain’t no different.
It’s not easy climbing up your career ladder with broken rungs or slippery rails, is it? You may find yourself falling off or stranded on the same step for a long, frustrating period of time. It’s time for you to take a second look at your network. Do you surround myself with an empowering circle or a team of negative nancies?
Energy can be contagious. If you’re rubbing elbows with a pessimistic fool, that negative spirit will linger. Women need to surround themselves with zesty, like-minded careerists who will give you that extra push to succeed. It’s time for you to snip off the dead weight, flip your hair and say “It’s not personal. It’s business!”
Here are 10 ways to build an empowering, toxic-free network!
It could get a little difficult to keep in touch with everyone in your Rolodex throughout the years. With innovative outlets like LinkedIn, getting in contact with old networks is a bit easier. Whether it’s to utilize your network to establish more connections in your field or to ramp up your job hunt internally, keeping in touch with your professional contacts is vital to your success.
Looking for a great way to rekindle your network, but unsure of how to facilitate the conversation? Here are a few innovative ways to keep in touch with old colleagues, bosses and your professional network.
Your net worth relies on your network. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of all jobs are found through networking. This means in order to find your new job for 2014 or really take your business to the next level, you’ve got to get out there and meet people! It’s much harder to get through the door just e-mailing resumes. Hiring managers are inundated with 100s of applications every day and are relieved when they can shift through the masses and pull an application based on a personal referral. Here are a few things that take the guessing game out of networking!
Start the conversation
Think of it as a two-way conversation much like a date. You wouldn’t just meet someone and ask them to marry you, so you need to work up to getting the help you need. Don’t go to a networking event asking for a job. When you meet a potential connection, have a conversation and make an impression. You can share your goals or interests without saying “So, you want to hire me?”
Get their contact information and reach out to them after the event and include how you met and some part of your conversation that was interesting. For example, “It was great to meet you. I was so pleased to hear about your experience at ___company and share my plans to do ___ in the future.”
Don’t forget to include some sort of action step such as an offer to get together for lunch or to arrange a more in depth phone call where you can really get into a conversation.
Take it slow and hopefully doors will begin to open.
Get out there
Remember with networking the key is to be in the right places at the right time. I meet a lot of writers who want to write for major magazines but spend most of their day pitching into bottomless inboxes. Pitching is great, but meeting an editor is even better. Find events for local writers or whatever your field of choice may be. Use meetup.com, social media and good ole fashioned Google to find people with similar interests in your field. You don’t always have to meet the CEO to make a great connection. Networking with others who are trying to break into the field is a great way to share information, form bonds, and you never know who someone else knows. No connection is too small to make.
Do you have a small business that you hope to get off the ground? You need to be out there talking to people. Find any free conferences, workshops, or meet-ups that may put you in the right place with the right people. No opportunity is too small to network. Get out there and talk to everyone. You never know who you may meet at the dessert table.
Social Media is a networking tool
Social media, especially Twitter, is much more than a place to vent and keep up with your favorite music and your friends. Search the hashtags that are popular in your field of choice. Research popular people in your field and find their twitter accounts. There are gems dropped online every day, events, and you can even start establishing a rapport with people who can take you to the next level. Please, however, do not send someone unsolicited links, bios, web sites, files and more. You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and hand them your resume after a simple hello, so don’t do it online either.
Another word of advice is to keep your timeline clean. If you think it will matter to your future employer that you are talking about your sex life, swearing, or being “ratchet” on your timeline then you need to create an account for business purposes only. Use the business account to network, ask questions, and follow the important people in your field. Share your clean thoughts and tweet your way right into a new job!
You can do it!
One introvert to another, being an introvert is no excuse not to go after your dreams. You may not be able to work the entire room but you can make small, intimate, one on one connections slowly but surely. Confidence is key.
The great part of networking is it is mutually beneficial. You have something wonderful to share with future employers too. Be confident in your skills, your product, and really sell it. if you don’t believe in yourself and work hard for your dreams, who will?
What are some ways you increase your networking? What are some things you can share about networking? SHARE below.
Dee Rene is the author and creator of Laugh.Cry.Cuss. http://laughcrycuss.com
This exclusive guest post is written by Lauren Wesley Wilson, founder and Chief Networking Officer at ColorComm: Women of Color in Communications. Join us next Tuesday at 2pm ET @MadameNoireBiz for a Twitter chat with Wilson, where we’ll be discussing the ins and outs of networking and maintaining business relationships.
It’s the holidays. A wonderful time of year to meet new people, reconnect with old friends, sip some eggnog, and hope your crush makes his or her way to the Mistletoe toe (with you underneath). With all this fun and holiday spirit, comes a great time to network and build new business relationships. It’s easier to build relationships when people are in a good mood. Folks are often eager to help or point you in the right direction – after all, it’s the holidays!
However, in order to get what you want and maximize the most out of yet another holiday happy hour, you must refine your approach. Everything has to appear natural and organic, meanwhile you’ve done your research, made a plan, and you’re ahead of the game. Below are a few tips to help you navigate building new business relationships during the holidays.
1) Be strategic
By now you’ve been invited to 15 or so holiday happy hours, Christmas parties, Secret Santa swaps, Kwanzaa lightings, and more. This is just the beginning. There are more dinner and soirée invites ahead and your calendar has you out every night till midnight.
It’s not necessary to attend every last event that you’ve been invited to. Be strategic. You should attend an industry-wide function with professionals who work in the same field, your company’s holiday party (do not skip this), and an event primarily attended by executive leaders (typically invited by a mentor or sponsor).
2) Know the room before you get there
Have an idea of the audience and demographic that will be in the room so that you don’t waste time. Are you attending yet another holiday function with the majority of people in their 20s and 30s? Were you personally invited or was this an invite forwarded around? Is there a guest speaker? Is your mentor attending? Is your boss attending? If you happen to find out that your boss is attending, you should definitely attend. This will likely be a crowd of executive leaders. Go on your own and introduce yourself to new people. If your boss is there, they might even help you meet several key contacts.
And don’t waste precious weeknights with friends, catch up with them on the weekends.
As trendy as “networking” has become, social networks, party flyers, and random strangers have led us to believe that it is interchangeable with socializing and outright solicitation. While socializing is a major part of networking, it is not the end-all-be-all. In fact, this belief is why many find their attempts at “networking” to be unsuccessful.
Noun. The exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business. (Merriam-Webster)
The main word in this definition is exchange. In an exchange, both parties give something to receive something, or in other words, the relationship is mutually beneficial. This refutes the belief that soliciting others for services or entry into a particular industry or field, without offering them anything in return qualifies as networking.
Rather than sending someone in your desired field an unsolicited tweet saying “Call me. (555)555-5555. I would like for you to help me get a job in XYZ.” You should try, “Hello, I’m Sue. I do XYZ well, and would appreciate the opportunity to help your company improve in such and such area.” This approach is more likely to begin a rapport; it starts with you offering a service rather than asking for a handout. No one likes to feel used.
It is important to acknowledge the other party’s career goals as well, and how you can help them reach these goals more efficiently. Bringing something to the party is just as important as the venue. When attempting to network, it is important to remember that there is a time and place for everything. Despite what the flyers for the “After-Work Social” may say, sometimes people do not want to talk business after several half-priced margaritas. And honestly, just because it’s a business mixer does not mean everyone has business. This is not to say that every beneficial business relationship stems from a formal setting, but do not be fooled by the boatload of “networking events” that are held every day just to get you and your money in the door. Research the person holding the networking event. Have they had other successful networking events? What does their network look like? Do they have a good reputation?
These are all important questions to ask, and while networking events are helpful, you can build genuine relationships with people by attending places and events that you are actually interested in. If you are a writer, you are bound to meet other writers at writing workshops, book signings, magazine events, and the like. Genuine relationships that begin from common interests have proven to be more productive than contrived ones.
During and after college, I found myself constantly working for free. Although I didn’t really do anything worthy of adding to my resume in many of these positions, one of the greatest benefits of this work was meeting and building relationships with people — and companies — in the field. These people had a front row seat to my work ethic, attitude, and personality, so when I began my job hunt, I was lucky enough to have industry insiders sending me openings, writing reference letters, and supporting me throughout the process.
Ironically, the person who was the most helpful in my job search was an executive assistant whom I didn’t directly work with, but always talked to in passing and occasionally in department gatherings.
After my internship ended, we kept in touch via email, and when positions matching my interest came up, she was sure to contact me. She even went as far as editing my resume, and personally submitting it to the hiring manager. As grateful as I was for her help, I never expected it. I simply thought she was a nice person and enjoyed talking to her. This experience reminded me how important it is to respect and be polite to everyone from the doorman to CEO, because you never know who can or will help you on your journey to your best self.
My hope is the next time you hear “networking,” you don’t automatically think about successful people and what they can do for you, but instead you think of building genuine, mutually beneficial relationships. By exposing yourself to different events and happenings in your field, being polite, and having an attitude of service, you are destined to meet some really cool people, learn a few new things, and strengthen your network.