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9 Networking Blunders That Undermine Your Reputation

9 Networking Blunders That Undermine Your Reputation

I’ve been called the “queen of networking” for longer than I can remember. At one point, I felt like this was, perhaps, an insult, since so many people think networking is a bad word. But I later realized that’s simply because too many people do it poorly, thus giving networking a bad name.  After countless conversations, speeches, and seminars teaching people how to better network, here are the nine ways that you might be contributing to the bad wrap that networking gets.

1. You don’t get buy-in.

One of the linchpins of networking is the ability to create value-add relationships for others, which begins with an introduction. That intention is pure and necessary. Where the error begins is when you blindly send a three-way email introduction (or worse, just give someone the third party’s contact info) so that you and your original conversation partner know the introduction is coming, but the third party is in-the-dark.

I much prefer to take the extra step of calling or emailing before making an introduction to get the buy-in from the third party. This preps everyone and makes the introduction seamless and more importantly, invited by all parties.

Of course, there are circumstances where this isn’t necessary because you are certain it’s a value-add to both parties and/or you have such a trusted relationship with the third party that you know it will be a warranted introduction. When deciding how to proceed, put yourself in the shoes of the third party and ask yourself, “If I got a blind email connecting me to this person by this person, how would I feel?”

2. You don’t follow up.

Follow up is critical both to keep the momentum going once an introduction is made and to close-the-loop afterward. The biggest problem is when someone makes an introduction for you and you never let that person know what happened as a result. This is a fast way to inadvertently signal to that person that you don’t value their time or that they leveraged their reputation with the other party. Do a quick follow up and share what occurred (as well as to say thank you).

3. You keep bad company.

It’s no wonder that when we were kids, our parents were so concerned about whether or not we were hanging out with the ‘bad kids’. You are the company you keep, both by osmosis and by the perception of others. The good news is, if you keep great company, you get to ride on their reputational equity as well as glean great traits from them. But when we keep poor company, they bring us down and lessen the way others perceive us.  Consider doing some housekeeping.

4. You take too long.

I believe that 24 business hours is the maximum amount of time you have to follow up with someone before you begin to look like you don’t care or think you are too important. We are all busy and pulled in a lot of directions. But your reply can be as simple as, “I’m back-logged on email right now and wanted you to know that I saw your note. I will get back with you as soon as possible, and look forward to connecting soon!”.

5. You only look out for yourself.

One of the primary reasons networking has a sullied reputation is so many people who claim to be “networking” are simply out for their own advantage. It’s best to shift your mentality to being curious when you meet or connect with people. Ask them meaningful questions and really listen. See what you can learn and how you can find connection points. Always ask how you can help them in some way, not with an expectation of what you can get in return.

6. You only think up.

It’s not uncommon to think that the only way to advance is to buoy yourself to people with higher titles or more perceived power. While it’s fine to connect with people who are further along in their careers, don’t forget that there’s also value in meeting people in every direction of where you are in your career trajectory: down, laterally and up.

7. You underestimate the power of someone’s Rolodex.

When you meet someone, you’re not meeting just them, you’re meeting hundreds of people.  As we can see from social media, people have hundreds (if not thousands) of contacts. While some are naturally stronger than others, keep in mind that they are a gatekeeper to the people they know and to whom they could introduce you. Don’t write someone off because you don’t see immediate value.

8. You don’t do what you say you’re going to do.

This is a quick way to chip away at trust and lessen your credibility. If you say you’ll follow up with an email today, do it. If you say you’ll be at the dinner, be there and be on time.

9. You think you don’t need to network.

As someone who hosts monthly networking events in three cities for hundreds of people at each event, I often hear this when I extend invitations. When you say you “don’t need to network”you’re saying you will never be in need of the help of others nor do you want to meet anyone new to help them.

Networking is a fancy word for relationship building, so you’re basically saying that you are happy to live with the circle you’ve created and have put up a wall to anyone else. What you may mean is that you’re not currently looking for something you think you can gain from meeting new people (refer back to point 5) or that you don’t like big events, in which case, express that.

If you see yourself in any of these networking faux-pas, consider working on them in the New Year to expand your circle!

 

Originally posted by Darrah Brustein on Entrepreneur

How to Quickly Grow Your Network With No Business Experience

How to Quickly Grow Your Network With No Business Experience

Everyone knows that networking is important, but fewer people know exactly how to build a network, even though networking is perhaps the business owner’s single most important skill, no matter what the industry.

The good news is that becoming a master networker does not require an Ivy League degree, wealthy parents or a membership at the country club.

Growing your network, actually, is a fairly simple process.  Like most things in business, however, ensuring that includes powerful and influential people is not easy. Yet it’s not complicated, either. So, if you have always held onto the limiting belief that great networking requires an advanced degree and tons of cash, then read on, and let the truth set you free.

1. Attend business meetups and personal growth events.

You know the old saying, “If you want to catch fish, go where the fish are”? Well, if you want to network with high-level individuals, then go where they go.

In this context, one of the best habits you can develop for networking success is attending business meetups in your area. For specifics, go to Meetup.com and look for industry specific events close to you. You’ll be amazed at whom you can meet just by showing up and adding value to everyone around you.

Don’t try to market yourself or your company, either. Just be genuinely interested in the other people there and you will have people marketing you.

Another great place to meet high-level influencers and industry leaders is at personal growth events like Unleash the Power Within from Tony Robbins or entrepreneur conferences like World Domination Summit from Chris Guillebeau.

Hundreds of multimillionaires, top salespeople and industry disrupting entrepreneurs attend these types of events on a yearly basis. Even if you don’t manage to network as much as you’d planned, these events will still be invaluable for your personal growth and business success.

2. Produce great content.

Imagine if, instead of having to work hard at networking and hand out hundreds of business cards (doomed for the trash can) at local business dinners, you had dozens of influencers approaching you. Sounds like a dream right?

Well, this can be your reality if you are willing to put in the work to create a high-quality online platform with even higher quality content.

If you are able to write an article or record a video that rocks the internet and goes viral in a way that helps millions, industry leaders will want to talk to you and you will no longer have to work to get them on the phone for a curt 30-second introduction.

3. Introduce two new people every week.

I forget where I first learned this concept, but its power cannot be understated: If you make it your mission to connect two new people every week without any ulterior motives, you will find your network exploding in a matter of months.

People like people who are helpful. Find an excuse every week to introduce two people who may be mutually beneficial to one another. The task need not be a big ordeal, either. Simply writing an email like the following will do:

Hey Joe,

I wanted to take a second and tell you about Jane, an absolute ROCKSTAR, at a friend’s company. I thought I’d introduce you.

I know you mentioned that you are looking to improve your marketing efforts. And Jane mentioned she was looking to get involved in marketing consulting (coincidence? I think not!). Hope everything is well, and I am excited to get you two connected 🙂

Best regards,

Neil

4. Realize that ‘it is not about you.’

Let me let you in on a little secret. Most of the people you want to connect with are approached by hundreds if not thousands of people each month, all of whom bring along an attitude of WIIFM: What’s in it for me?

One of the easiest ways to set yourself apart is to completely forget your personal agenda and connect with these people in an authentic and non-needy way. So, offer value to others instead of simply grabbing stuff for yourself.

Tell them how influential they have been to you and your journey, offer to take them out for a meal and connect them with someone they might not know.

If you can master the art of authentically connecting and suspending your personal goals, you will stand out as one among many and have more success in your networking endeavors than you ever thought possible.

Conclusion

Networking is often seen as this big scary thing that only CEOs and “real business people” do. Nothing could be further from the truth.

No matter where you are in your business or career, no matter how big or small you feel, you have the ability to connect with the top players in your field, and do so much more simply and easily than you imagined.

So, take these tips and implement them in the coming weeks. See where it takes you. You may be surprised!

 

Originally posted by Neil Patel on Entrepreneur

5 Ideas for a Summer Business Instead of a Summer Job

5 Ideas for a Summer Business Instead of a Summer Job

Summer vacation is in full swing, but for a lot of students, that means four months of under-employment or sometimes even unemployment. It seems funny to think that so many students expect to graduate and land their dream job, and yet in the summers preceding it they toil away at minimum wage jobs and illegal internships.

If you’re unhappy with your current summer job, check out these five summer start-ups that you can create by yourself, with minimal time or money invested. Starting a business is a great way to get hands-on experience, make some cash and build up your resume. Future employers and grad school admissions committees are sure to be impressed by your hustle and problem-solving skills.

1. Resell video games.

PCs might be dominating the gaming scene, but console games still pack a punch for the casual gamer. There’s currently a strong secret market for old system games on college campuses across North America. Students are always looking for ways to take a break from school and are more than willing to dish out a few bucks for nostalgic games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

In order to be successful, you’ll need to know your customer and which channels are best for reaching them. You can start your inventory by buying old games from friends, classifieds sites, flea markets and marketplaces like eBay and Amazon. The more passionate you are about gaming, the better you’ll be at spotting potential deals and cashing in on rare collectibles. You can promote your new business for free on social media or by putting up posters around your school. You can even sell through Facebook. Once you’ve earned a bit of money, you can reinvest profits in bulk orders of high-margin video game accessories from sites like Alibaba.

2. Design and sell custom T-shirts.

If you’ve never run a business before, selling T-shirts is a great place to start. They’re relatively easy to create and sell, even with no technical or design knowledge. Plus, everyone wears tees, so there’s a huge potential market.

It’s important to remember that your customers are buying a graphic tee because they want to make a statement or support an ideology. Hop on social media and find the memes with the most shares. Once you’ve picked a niche for yourself, it’s time to get deeply engrossed in a subculture that you find interesting, or that’s popular on your campus. You can even check out Google Trends to see what’s buzzworthy and will resonate best with a wider audience.

GoSpaces.com is the perfect platform for launching a t-shirt business. It lets anyone launch an online store for free, and has tons of useful tools like a Refund Policy generator. You can even combine GoSpaces with a print on demand service like Printful so that you never have to worry about keeping inventory in your apartment or dorm room.

3. Build a following on Etsy.

Are you crafty and creative? Do you spend your free time editing photos for Instagram, or painting custom mugs for your friends? Make your art work for you by setting up a profile on a creative platform like Etsy.

One particularly high margin option is selling prints or photographs. They’re cheap to produce and to ship, so you can potentially start making money very quickly if you have a strong portfolio of work. Jewelry, clothing and crafts are also popular, but just be sure to calculate shipping and exchange rates before setting your prices.

Etsy is a community-driven platform, so in order to be successful it’s ideal to connect with other vendors and to join the forums. There are also Etsy-specific groups you can join online to help you navigate your journey as a first time seller. Once you’ve developed a solid following, you may want to graduate to a site of your own instead of renting space from Etsy. Look into setting up your own online store through a platform like Shopify which will allow you to be more in control of your brand and overall business.

4. Write an ebook.

Are you an English lit or creative writing major? Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing is a fantastic outlet for aspiring writers and those hoping to establish themselves before college ends. Typically the price of an ebook is low, but the potential exposure is massive. Some writers have even secured deals from well-known publishing houses after publishing their material online.

This business idea isn’t an easy one, but if you’re passionate about writing, it could be the right direction for you. You’ll need to draft, redraft, edit and submit your book to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Promote your work on Facebook and Twitter, and consider becoming a part of the Wattpad community of writers. Think about what material you’ve already written that you could leverage. Perhaps you can transform a past school project on the history of rock and roll or pre-natal nutrition into a best selling ebook.

5. Start a student-friendly cleaning service.

Let’s face it — most college apartments and houses aren’t as clean as they should be. Everyone wants to live in a pristine home, but it’s hard to make that a reality when you’re sharing a space with multiple roommates and juggling a bunch of conflicting responsibilities.

It’s surprisingly easy to start your own campus cleaning company. Just create a quick landing page to advertise your services and start posting the link across Facebook groups, forums and campus bulletin boards. If you offer a few free or discounted cleans in exchange for reviews, you’ll quickly be able to kickstart your new business. You could even start with dorm rooms — you won’t make a ton of money, but they’re relatively quick and easy to clean.

Entrepreneurship isn’t a nine to five job, so all of these ideas will take more time and emotional investment than your average summer gig. That said, they’re potential paths to self sufficiency that are sure to be paved with fantastic learning opportunities — and it will look better on a resume than serving or bartending. Plus, students are in a prime position to be taking risks and testing their entrepreneurial ideas. After all, if your business idea doesn’t work out, you’ll be heading back to the books in September.

 

Originally posted by Lindsay Craig on Entrepreneur

How Memorial Day Can Inspire And Propel Your Business

How Memorial Day Can Inspire And Propel Your Business

Before I started Vanderbloemen Search Group , I was a pastor for many years. And during that time, I had the immense honor and weighty responsibility of officiating several funerals for people who served in our armed forces.

If you’ve ever been to a veteran’s funeral, you’ve probably seen the casket draped in the United States Flag. I remember presiding over both of my grandfathers’ funerals and watching the servicemen painstakingly remove, fold, and present the flags to my grandmothers during the services.

I used to wonder, “Why do we keep the flag? Why not let the fallen soldier take it with him to his grave?” Through the ages, people have sent mementos to accompany the departed. Whether it was enormous treasures for Pharaohs in Egypt, horses buried with departed generals, or even a stuffed animal with a deceased child, we have a long history of burying belongings with the dead. So why not the flag with the fallen soldier?

 Then, a few years ago, a friend of mine explained it to me. The soldier may fall, but the flag doesn’t stop flying.

This is a significant lesson to keep in mind as we remember our fallen heroes this weekend. We recall their falling with grief, we honor their sacrifice with gratitude, and we celebrate the fact that, because of them, our flag still flies. And because of that, we walk on with hope and courage.

Entrepreneurs, can you see the parallels to the hope needed as you lead your business? For me, I feel called to stay in close touch with the cause behind my business. Without the cause, my spirit might falter every time we run into a challenge or experience a failure. And if I’m not running fast after our cause, how can I expect my team to run fast after it as well? As the leader of your business, your team is watching you closely for how you handle challenges. Will you hold fast to the cause for which you are providing a solution or will you falter as problems arise?

The soldier may have fallen, but the flag still flies. We may suffer failures from new ideas, bad hires, or leadership mistakes. We may face setbacks from growing pains, economic frustrations, and difficult clients. But the flag of our mission, our “why” behind all we do, still flies.

When I focus on our larger cause, I’m reminded that those failures are only temporary setbacks, not the death of the cause. When I focus on our cause, I see a new problem as an opportunity to solve a new challenge for our clients. And likewise, when it’s the end of my time at my company and I pass the baton on to the next leader, the flag of the mission will still fly.

Our fallen soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice, and I’m not minimizing that. Nor do I want to over-dramatize our business lives. But today can serve as a timely reminder for entrepreneurs to ask themselves, “Does my business have a cause that can outlast major setbacks and outlast me?” If not, spend time reflecting on the reason you started your business and the cause that fueled your passion to start it.

Take time today to remember the fallen heroes of our armed forces. Thank God for those who have laid down their life to preserve our national freedom. And let that theme guide you to reflect on how you can focus your business around a cause more permanent than ever. It may make the difference between surviving your next bump in the road or not.

 

Originally posted on Forbes by William Vanderbloemen 

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