Networking Do’s and Don’ts

Have you ever felt that you didn’t belong in a particular situation?  Say you are married and you go out with a few of your single friends for an evening.  You may feel uncomfortable and decide that you don’t belong.  It doesn’t make for a very fun evening.  Now, you may be wondering what this has to do with your business and networking.

There are going to be times that you are outside of your element, but you need to make the best of any situation.  When you are at a networking event, you may feel that same feeling you did when you were the only married one out of your group of friends.  The good thing is:  It’s always your choice to make the best or worst of the situation!

I have compiled a starting list for you to consider:

DO’S:

-Keep in contact with your network.

It is important to stay fresh in the minds of who you are networking with.  Sending a holiday card or an e-mail to ask how their kids’ sports teams are doing are a few ways to keep in contact with your network on a genuine basis.

-Build relationships, not expectations

Be genuine, and get to know the people in your network.  Building a relationship with a person is way more valuable than networking with them and expecting something in return.

-Make a good first impression

First impressions are very important; we hear that constantly.  It applies to your networking goals as well.  No matter what you do, the first impression someone gets is everlasting!  Make it a good one.

-Dress for success

You may be comfortable wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and your business may allow you to do so.  If you are attending a networking event where people are looking more professional, you should too!  Taking the time to make yourself look your best will help you portray confidence.  People seek out confident people to network with, so be that person everyone is seeking out!

-Fake it till you make it.

If you’re intimidated or shy or hesitant to get involved or start a conversation, pretend like you’re a friendly, outgoing and confident person and do it anyway. As a former shy person, I’ve used this strategy hundreds of times over the course of my life to help me move forward and make connections. I used to say to myself “Pretend like you’re a friendly and outgoing person, and you will be a friendly and outgoing person.”

I even used this tactic when I was younger and put in charge of running my own branch (and later, district) office. I’d tell myself “Pretend like you’re a district manager, and you’ll be a district manager. People coming in here to apply for a position don’t see you as anything but professional and in charge. They have no idea you’re uncomfortable unless you telegraph that.”

And guess what? It worked. I ran a successful branch and district office. I had the respect of my people as well as my peers and superiors in the business. All because I did what I needed to do, I was good at it, and I didn’t telegraph my discomfort and lack of confidence.

And the bonus was that the longer I “pretended” to be confident, the easier it was to forget I was “pretending.” Then I wasn’t pretending anymore – I actually was confident and successful.

So … take it, use it, own that phrase: Fake it till you make it. It works!

DON’TS:

-Don’t be a business card collector

It’s great to have business cards for people in your network, and it’s a great idea to give out your business card when networking with others.  Just don’t collect business cards.  Take the time to form a genuine relationship with the people you are meeting.  If you have nothing in common or don’t see a mutual benefit from being a part of each other’s networks, don’t exchange business cards.

-Don’t talk about yourself all the time

No one likes a self-centered person who focuses on themselves the entire time.  People will actually be drawn to you more if you listen to them talk about themselves.  Taking the time to listen to another person talk and showing interest in what they are saying is way more valuable than talking about yourself the entire time.  After all, we were given two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we talk.

-Don’t expect anything from people

Networking will benefit you in the long run, but it should not be your immediate goal.  Building a network and connecting other people is just as important.  If you are the type of networker who makes connections between two other people, they will keep you in mind when they are trying to do the same.

-Don’t wait for someone to talk to you

Take the initiative!  Go talk to them!  Put yourself out there and meet people.  The girls gathered in the corner with their friends at the high school dance are not the ones that the guy asks to dance with him.  He asks the girl out in the middle of the dance floor making the best of the night.

-DON’T BE SHY!!!

Along the same lines, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.  You have nothing to lose, only something to gain.  Put a smile on your face, be confident, and don’t be shy! And if you are shy, remember those six little words:

Fake It Till You Make It

Now that you know what  to do and not do to make the best of your networking experience, why not CHOOSE to make it a GREAT EXPERIENCE!

Remember, this is just a starting point.  There are many other things that could help/hurt your networking efforts.  Please share your feelings about the do’s and don’ts listed above and your own networking do’s and don’ts based on your experiences.

Seven Networking Tips

Do you know someone who landed a job because they knew someone that already worked at that company?  Did you grumble that it wasn’t fair or that they should have had to go through the same laborious process as everyone else?

Sounds like a little sour grapes to me. But there is a secret…

The secret is networking.

Knowing people and having connections is imperative to your success.  The concept related to the “Six Degrees of Separation Theory” is very relevant to showing how humans naturally network in their everyday lives.

I have put together a list of seven tips to help you network successfully.

1)      Keep building on that relationship.

It is not very effective to meet someone and begin a professional relationship with that person if you have no intention of keeping in contact with them.  The purpose of networks is to help each other in different situations; that is not possible when you lose contact.  Have you ever heard the phrase “Out of sight; out of mind”?  Keeping in contact with your networks and building on those relationships helps to insure that both parties will be there when the other needs some type of support from the relationship.

2)      Give more than you take.

I am sure that at some point in your life, you have had a friend that is always taking from everyone around them and never gives anything in return.

You know exactly who I am talking about…  I’m sure you have had that friend that calls you constantly to complain about their “big dilemma” of the week.  Being the positive friend that you are, you talk through the problem of whether they should wear the green dress or the purple dress to the party this weekend, but then they rush off the phone before you get to tell them the good news that you are getting married!  They never take the time to inquire about what’s going on with you. How frustrating!

Those types of friendships are draining and usually don’t last.  Don’t be that type of networker!  Networking is not just about what everyone else can do for you.  It is in your best interest to be the person who gives more, because people will be more likely to help you when you need to take a little down the road.

3)      Professionalism is key!

In order to form a professional network that works for you, it is crucial to keep it separate from your personal network as much as possible.  You want to be known throughout the community and with your client base as responsible and trustworthy in order to build a positive reputation.

You may also like to go out with your friends for drinks on a Saturday night.  In general, people do not link alcohol to responsibility and trustworthiness.  It is very important to draw the line and keep these two networks separate from each other in order for your personal network to not have a negative impact on your professional network.

4)      Focus on what you have to offer others.

Along the lines of giving more than you take, it is important for you to focus on what you have to offer others in your network.  If you have a lot to offer, people will begin to recognize you as the sought-after “go-to” person.  They will begin to ask for your advice and rely on you.  This can also help get your name and positive reputation out there… Sounds to me like free advertising!

5)      Go out of your comfort zoneTalk to people everywhere!

You never know who you will meet when you just start talking to people.  Think about this tip the next time you are standing in line at the grocery store.  Instead of being frustrated or annoyed because the lines are so long and you are in a rush, start a conversation with the person in front of you or behind you.  You never know what may come of it.  They may just be a nice person to talk to while waiting in line at the grocery store, or they may be your next customer… Who knows?!

6)      Be open to meeting new people and hearing their story.

Just talking to a new person may not be enough.  In order to really get to know someone and add them to your network, you must be willing to hear their story.  Everyone has had different experiences.  In fact, I remember hearing a saying that goes something like “Learn from other’s mistakes because you will never live long enough to make them all yourself.”

This saying can also go the other way—you can also learn from other’s success stories. So learn how to ask a lot of questions and be genuinely interested in the answers. They will actually think that you are the most fascinating person they’ve met, because even though they did most of the talking, they’ll subconsciously be “falling in love” with you because you’re actually listening to them, and not interrupting them and not trying to one-up them like everyone else that they have a conversation with. They’ll find it refreshing and you completely loveable, even though they might not even recognize why they feel that way about you.

7)      Find common interests.

It’s not very effective to start a conversation with someone you just met by asking for something.  In fact, that person will probably not even be interested in getting to know you.  Your best bet is to try to find common interests to build a foundation for your relationship with that person.

Being genuine in wanting to get to know the other person allows you to form a relationship and be memorable to that person. And again, the easiest way to find common ground is to ask them questions about things that you are genuinely interested in. So the weather or their family or something on their desk or mantelpiece may not be the best topic of conversation if you don’t actually care about listening to them talk about that. Even though you asked, your disinterest will definitely show.

With that being said, being memorable and standing out (in a good way, of course) is one of the major reasons why it’s important to network successfully.  It’s important to get your name out there with a positive reputation to back it up, but it’s even more important that people REMEMBER YOU!!

Finding Your Passion

Passion

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Imagine you are looking back on your life when you are 100 years old…

 

How do you want your life to look?  What do you want to have accomplished in your life?  Who have you touched or how have you made a difference in others’ lives?

Once you hit a certain age, finding your passion and turning that into something you can use to serve others while providing a fabulous income for you and your family is something that you are longing to do.  You want to be in the position that you will not just enjoy your work, but you’ll feel so nourished and fulfilled by running your business that you can’t wait to jump out of bed in the morning to go share your gifts and passions with some more of those people that you’re meant to serve.

But here’s the stumbling block for a lot of people – see if this resonates with you…

Maybe you don’t know what your passion is?

To address that, here are a few questions for you to consider:

What are your interests and hobbies?
Photography is a common hobby among people.  The people who take that hobby and turn it into a photography business have successfully found their passion in life and used that to make their business.  This also allows them to be successful because they are passionate about what they are doing and it shows in their work.

Fitness is another hobby that many people have.  If one of your passions is fitness, there are many possibilities that stem from that as well – one example being to become a personal trainer.  Think about it: Your enthusiasm for fitness could help someone else become passionate and make a life-changing decision to be more health-conscious because of your passion. And that life-changing decision could literally SAVE their life. How awesome would that be? To know that in following your passion, you have created those kinds of powerful impacts in the world?

This leads me to my next question…
What do you enjoy doing that doesn’t feel like work?

If you are passionate about what you are doing in your business, that passion turns into a better service or product for your customers.  You also will most likely be more enjoyable to work with.  The most important part is that work doesn’t feel like work when you love what you do.

Who do you love to work with? What kinds of people do you love to be around?

Football fans love to go to the game more than just watching it on TV… Why is that?  The game is so much more enjoyable and fun when you are around other people who love football (and the team) just as much as you do.  Use this same concept for your business.  Finding your passion and turning it into your business allows you the opportunity to spend your time at work around the people who inspire you.

What is preventing you from doing what you are truly passionate about?

Whether it is money, pressures from family, time, or some other factor, people tend to find reasons for why they can’t do something.  The question you should be asking yourself is “Why not?”  Or maybe the more impactful question is: How can I do that?  Figure out how to figure it out. When you are truly passionate about your business, nothing else should really keep you from following that passion. You deserve to be energized and fulfilled by your work.  The fear of failure also plays a major role in why people don’t want to pursue what they really love.

A question that I ask people a lot is…

If money were no object, what would you be doing?

What I mean by that is people tend to not do what they are truly passionate about because they feel that it costs too much or they won’t get enough money in return.  While money is an important factor, it’s not always everything!  In order to find your TRUE passion, you need to think about it while you’re eliminating the money factor. That part can be worked out later. Let your imagination partner with your passion to create all kinds of potential options for your most energized and nourishing life.

Now that you have determined what your passion is…

What do you want to get out of your passion?

Hopefully, you have decided that you want to pursue your passion and form your business.  Building a business around your passion would be everyone’s dream.  I mean… who wouldn’t love to go to work every day and do exactly what they love to do?  Back to the photography example…  If you love photography, why wouldn’t you allow yourself to love working in a world where all you did all day was compose stunning photos and create visually stunning works of art?  It sounds like a dream come true to me. J
…And helping people find their passion and build a business that energizes and nourishes them is exactly what I do!

Ready to make your everyday life fit closer to that dream you imagine?  Leave a comment, share your dream, your goal, your vision, your passion…I’m interested to hear where you want to go.

 

Top 6 Benefits of Using a Business Coach

Top 6 Benefits of Having Your Own Business Success Coach

Before starting a new journey, be it a new business, partnership, etc…, it’s best to weigh out the cost versus the benefits – even when hiring someone to help you on this new journey such as a business coach. Below I’ve summed up some of the major professional and personal benefits of using a business coach, and more particularly, using me as your business success coach. Below you will find what I consider to be the top 6 benefits.

1. Guidance

One of the top benefits of using a business coach in general is the guidance they will provide to you. While a coach won’t do the work for you, they are there to help you to see both the forest and the trees. Many small business providers can feel bogged down with the details of marketing, managing and all the other hats you have to wear while running your own business. A business coach is there to essentially “hold your hand.”  Not only do they start you down the correct path to a fulfilling and successful business by helping you to define your vision for where you want to be, but they are with you each step of the way, making sure you STAY on the correct path.

One thing that happens far too often for business owners is that they fail to set goals for themselves. You may be one of those that think “Hey I know what I love to do, and I’m just going to do it. Why would I need a plan?”  Or “I know my goals in my head, why would I need to write them down?”

Well, as I’m sure you’ve heard before, goal setting and actually writing your goals down on paper have been proven to strengthen certain neural pathways within the brain which then subconsciously helps you to move more quickly and efficiently towards your goals! Your business coach can guide you in the process of developing and setting your ideal goals.

2. Accountability

 

Just like any other type of professional coach – football coach, music coach, trainer, or whatever it be – your business coach will not only help you set goals for yourself, but they’ll make sure you stick to them. Too often we set goals for ourselves, and as life gets busy we start to let those deadlines slide. An accountability partner is critical at this juncture. Not because you don’t have the best intentions – I know that you do have. But life will get in the way – and we let it. In my position as a business coach, I’m going to hold you accountable for the deadlines and goals you have set for yourself, ultimately helping your reach your dream career faster.

3. Brainstorming

Ever heard the expression that two heads are better than one? Of course you have – because it’s TRUE! Having another person to bounce ideas off of is going to help you come up with new ideas, strategies, goals, etc., and help expand on the old ones. Brainstorming is great way to solve problems and your business coach can bring experience, fresh insight and new energy into the mix, ultimately helping you come up with the most appropriate solution.

4. Balance

Many business people fall into the trap of the “your business is your life” philosophy. Personally, I believe that your business is your business and your life is your life. Yes, your business is important, but your business needs to be a functioning piece of a bigger whole. Your successful business will obviously help you to create your most satisfying and fulfilling life, but it’s only one piece. You also need to consider how the other aspects of your life fit in: health and wellness, fun and recreation, family and relationships, spiritual fulfillment, education/career, giving back to the world, etc.

It really depends on what you want your business to look like. And even if you want to be the “Oprah” of your marketplace – we can still do that in a way that you are able to achieve a healthy balance between all the aspects of your healthiest and happiest life in concert with your business.

(We will be talking more about the importance of balancing your life and your business soon in an upcoming post — Personal Development and Business Development: They go hand in hand. So watch for that one!

5. Positioning

My strength as your business success coach is to help you position yourself in the marketplace so that you are no longer “just one more real estate agent, hairdresser, health coach, chiropractor, dentist, energy healer, etc., in the vast arena of many other generic —insert job title here—”  By defining what makes you unique and setting yourself apart from the rest, it enables you to attract an energizing and fulfilling client based filled  with your IDEAL clients.  Together we work together to make you a recognized and preferred brand name in your market – be it local, regional, national or international. I like to say that I help you to become the Oprah of your marketplace.

6. Authority and Credibility

 

You’ve heard it said “It’s not what you do, it’s who you know!” Well I take that a step      further:

It’s not who you know; it’s who knows what you do – and do they care?

Do you recognize the ring of truth in that? One of the most important aspects in running a successful business and attracting clients is what they call the “Know, Like and Trust” factor.

In addition to the networking tactics and strategies that a typical business coach can help you with, I also provide you with an insight and perspective on how you’re coming across in your promotion and marketing materials, and what kinds of things you can do to build that “beyond excellent” customer service aspect of your business so that you are consistently building an army of raving fans that not only “Know, Like and Trust” you and your gifts and skills, but they’ll also help you to spread your message far and wide, helping you to draw in more of your ideal clients.

I actually have a signature system that allows us to work together to elevate you and your business from being one of the generic masses in your field up through trusted advisor, credible authority, likeable expert to recognized and preferred brand name (up to the Oprah of your industry if that’s how visible you want to be.)

To find out more about placing yourself and your business into the position of recognized and preferred brand name, so that your name stands out from the masses in your industry, you can visit my coaching website at www.ABetterYouCoach.com . Please feel free to leave any comments or questions by clicking the comment icon at the top right corner of this post.  I’m looking forward to seeing how this post resonates with you!

Make it great!

Theresa