Network Like You Mean It

As an entrepreneur, networking is critical. I had thought in college it was excruciating because I was meeting people I didn’t know and had a lot of projects to finish. Guess what? Nothing has changed. I have projects to finish and I am still meeting people I don’t know, but it is less excruciating and more exciting! Why? Because I take advantage of the opportunity to network with intention instead of networking how I feel. In other words, network like you mean it.

If you’re invited to an event, don’t go to a networking event just to collect and pass out business cards. You don’t know what to be “that” person. Go with a goal in mind. How many genuine contacts do you want to make? How many conversations do you want to have? How many people do you want to reconnect with from the last event? Goals help you stay focused on WHY you are there instead of trying to find a reason to ditch or hit the bar.

Do you meet with a group of professionals? You should consider joining one. By meeting with a group of professionals (in your field or not), it challenges YOU to stay on top in your field.

  • I am a member of the Beaches Business Link in Ponte Vedra Beach. We are a group that meet bi-weekly to hear a guest speaker or apply what we learned at a working roundtable. I am one of the few marketers in this group, so it gives me an advantage to share my expertise while meeting other professionals in other businesses. We have a networking mixer on Thursday, August 15. Register here to come!
  • I am also a part of the JAMA (Jacksonville American Marketing Association) group that meets once a month. The group is full of marketing and advertising professionals, so it is easy to blend in. How do I stand out? I make sure my marketing is cohesive with what I represent each month. My goal for these meetups is to connect and reconnect with those I know professionally.

After an event is over, I use the LinkedIn CardMunch app to scan the business cards into my database. Within 24 hours, the information on the business card is saved on my phone and I can find the contact on LinkedIn. I always, always send a personalized message when connecting on LinkedIn. If the contact had made a valuable impression on me, I will send a thank you card in the mail. For tips on writing these cards or maintaining what I call, “Network Relationship Etiquette” read about them here.

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What Did We Do Before Social Media?

Do you network like you mean it? I’d love to exchange ideas!

If you LIKE my business page on Facebook, you will see a common thing happening on Fridays I call a “Friday Focus”. The topic varies by what you suggest or what comes to mind. My goal is to help YOU, the reader, to take away something valuable than you may not have considered before.

Network Relationship Etiquette (Part 2)

Here we go, another blog that is written to help you. In my last post I talked about the basics of how important your name, e-mail, e-mail signature, contact phone number, and a landing page about.me. I hope you take the next few suggestions and apply them to your network and find success in your endeavors!

  • E-mail writing: is a whole topic in itself, but I’ll try to keep it simple and to the point. When you are writing a contact in your network, keep in mind they are a professional and represent what it’s like in the industry. Does your contact write with poor grammar? Probably not. When I am compose an e-mail for someone in my network, I tend to leave the “To:” field blank so I can reread it prior to sending it. I do this because on yahoo! it saves a draft automatically and alerts me the message cannot be send because the “To:” field is blank. That is my intention–for the e-mail to not get sent until I proofread my e-mail once, twice, and sometimes three times before clicking send.

E-mail writing advice:

  1. Try to keep the e-mail simple and to the point.
  2. If they have written you in greater length before, it is best to mimic how you received the e-mail unless what needs to be said can be simplified.
  3. Always say thank you at some point to be sincere and appreciative of the contact’s time.
  4. Allow your e-mail signature to leave your contact information, so there’s no need to have it typed out twice.
  • A “Thank you” goes a long way. Manners are a sign of respect and adds to your character, which ultimately enhance the image your are trying to represent. Saying it in response to an e-mail is fine, but what if you ran into someone in your network in public? Did that person give you a quick “hello” or a few minutes of their busy day to talk and catch up with you? Snail mail isn’t dead, so utilize the lost art of writing a simple “thank you” card to that person. You don’t have to scramble looking for your contact’s home address. Instead, try sending it to his or her office with an “Attn: John/Jane Smith” with an return address label. By doing this approach, the person will remember the gesture long after your e-mail has been sent and read.

Suggestions on “thank you” cards:

  1. Keep cards in good taste: avoid cliche or trendy cards unless you are more familiar with your contact’s taste and style.
  2. Universal “thank you” cards that are blank with a simple “thank you” text is more than appropriate.
  3. K.I.S.S.
  4. When writing the card, date the card when you wrote it (e.g. 10/2011) and reference when you saw or was thinking about them (e.g. It was nice seeing you last night).
  5. Don’t decorate the outside with fancy frills or stickers. This is not your pen pal or best friend… yet.
  • Social Media accounts are popular because we love to stay connected and be a part of something; however, staying connected with different groups of people can be challenging. If you have an about.me page like me , that is the only place I have most of my social media accounts “linked.” Linked is when live posts can be viewed on more than one site at a time. Once I did this, I made a metal note to only post material as if my mother was standing behind me. (You know what I mean.) What you post on the internet cannot be erased and a future employer or contact can view your angry post of your bad day, long after it took place. If you aren’t worried because your “accounts” are private–think again. Reports of social networking sites tell us they can sell your account information to generate revenue, even if it’s private. Does this mean a business can ask Facebook to look at your blocked account? Maybe, maybe not but why take that chance? Think twice before posting videos, pictures, and being tagged in friends and family’s media.
  • “Linked” accounts may sound convenient to show “anyone and everyone” all at once, but think about it… no, really think about it. If you have an account on Instagram, take a photo and upload it to site, it shares the photo on your Twitter account instantly. Now, it’s available to the public when the photo might have been intended for personal use. We are on social media to show we are active and engaging, so why not practice doing it? If you post relevant material, your network will notice and possibly generate more followers and friends. I am starting to read more and want to share my latest review on Goodreads, I can always use the copy the short code link and tell my network about it. Recently, I downloaded an app for my iPhone called iMapMyRUN. The app asks you go sign up with your Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ account. It allows you to share with your network about your running stats based on what you want to share.
Suggestions how “linking” can be in your favor:
  1. I allow this blog to have a feed on my linkedin profile. I recommend posting links leading future contacts and employers to your blog, online portfolio, or current work you have done to showcase your talents virally.
  2. Your klout score could go up. (Klout is a website is designed to measure how you influence your network and how it influences you.)
  3. Sharing links can show your network you are active and trying to engage with them and in other hobbies and interests.
Questions and comments are welcome. Thank you for reading and hope we can continue to learn and grow from one another!