networking

Sharpen Up Your Search

By Kristen Harris 

Shark Week has become such a big deal, it’s practically a national holiday! (Nice work, Discovery Channel.)

We’re always picking up new ideas about careers and job search. So, in the spirit of the almost-holiday, here are a few lessons learned from the sharks. Happy hunting!

  1. Never Stop Moving. Sharks have to keep swimming to avoid sinking to the bottom. They are basically always moving, even if it’s ever-so-slightly. Whether you’re building a career, starting a business, or searching for your next opportunity, never stop moving. Do something, even if it’s small, every day. Read an article, learn a skill, send out a resume, contact a potential client–small actions add up over time to keep you moving forward (and prevent sinking to the bottom).

  2. Adjust to the Situation. If there is no food, sharks move on to a location with more options. This is the same with searching for a job, new business, or career growth. If the opportunities aren’t available where you are, adjust and focus on where the opportunities are. This could mean changing tactics, finding new connections, redesigning your marketing pieces, changing your area of focus, or literally relocating.

  3. Choose Your Surroundings. As predators, the feeding behavior of sharks changes according to the presence of prey and competition. They (literally and figuratively) feed off of the energy of the group. Remember that the energy of the people you surround yourself with has a strong impact on your mood and motivation. Spend time in positive situations with people who are encouraging, helpful, and supportive.

  4. Remember and Learn From the Past. Sharks have very good memories. They migrate to follow food sources and remember the (often complex) migratory patterns of their prey. Reflect on where you were successful and not-so-successful in the past. How can you repeat some of the patterns that worked, perhaps in a new and updated way? And remember what didn’t work, avoid it, and try something new?

  5. Socialize with Your Kind. We think of sharks as solitary, but some species are very social, hanging out and hunting in “schools”. As fierce predators, they do not need special protection so this grouping is thought to be purely social. We gain a lot by spending time with others as well. Seek out individuals and groups related to your industry, interests, or a new topic you want to learn. The connections you build can extend way beyond the one meeting or event, leading to long-term relationships and valuable career connections.

The waters can be rough out there! If you have questions about your career or job search, we’re here to help. And we don’t bite, promise.

Networking Like a Shark

By Catherine Lang-Cline

People think that you need to be very aggressive to properly network. What networking really is, is building relationships, but there are some characteristics we could adopt from one of the most aggressive creatures on the planet to produce some very effective networking, I am talking about the great white shark. In honor of “Shark Week,” here is what we can learn from these bold creatures:

Sharks work alone. 
This is almost always true, but sometimes they work in teams. Networking works the same way, you throw yourself into a room full of people, alone or with a partner and start “swimming” around the room, looking for prey or comparing yourself to other sharks. With this in mind, walk in and take a quick pass around the room. Greet those you know and ask them if they know other people in the room, have them introduce you. Work in teams to change a conversation from a cold introduction to a warm one.

Sharks are intelligent, curious, and learn quickly.
Always have intelligent conversation when meeting people, first impressions are key. Then put yourself on hold for a bit and ask your new friend some questions. Ask about where they work, how they like it, what is their biggest struggle? Listen and learn quickly how you or your company could be of help. People love helpers and they will be more receptive to continue a conversation with you if they know it will be of some benefit to them.

Sharks have 500-pound livers.
Yes, the great white shark typically has a liver that weighs around 500 pounds, allowing it to go months without eating. Worth mentioning that networking events have alcohol and rather than always accepting the alcohol, you can preserve your liver and have water. Sharks like water. Also, keep in mind that you might also go extended periods of time without getting a “bite.” I would recommend really being strategic when it comes to the events you go to. Think about where your potential clients might be AND the events that have the people that know the people you want to meet. Chambers and rotaries have events that cover a wide range of businesses for a more broad reach, but you may find events that host people in the field you wish to target, just keep going and don’t get discouraged.

Sharks are relentless.
Definitely not saying to grab onto a potential client and shake them until they will work with you, that is a bad thing. Being relentless, when you know you can help someone, is not a bad thing. In most cases, the person you are connecting with does not have an immediate need. What you can do while you are patiently waiting, is to see if they know anyone else that could need their help. Think if there is another way to help them, a person you can connect them with, a book or restaurant you could recommend, be more than “the taker.” Be the “giver.” Join a board or committee in your area of expertise. Not only will it make you feel good, but people will remember you. Also, keep at it. Timing is everything and you want to be there when they need you.

Sharks like tropical and subtropical temperatures.
Who doesn’t? Vacation is the payoff for all of this hard work.

Networking like a shark may help you feel a little more powerful in the room. It may help you not give up on that client you know that you can help. It may make you feel pretty cool, too.
Keep refilling that business card holder, shake a lot of hands, and happy hunting!

#sharkweek

Networking Ninja: How Introverts Can Get the Most Out of Any Event

By Kristen Harris

Some people love networking. They really like meeting new people, chatting in the grocery line, making friends on the airplane. When they walk into a room full of strangers they just see potential future friends. These people extroverts and they are not me.

I like people, I really do. But I want to have the chance to get to know them, to understand who they are, what they think and where they’re coming from. I’m an introvert but I’m not anti-social. I just need to apply a few tactics that make networking work for me.

These are my top tips for how introverts can get the most out of any event or networking opportunity.

  1. Just Go. To get something out of an event you have to attend. I know it seems obvious, but this is actually a challenge for me. Something sounds interesting, I sign up, I plan to go...then the day comes and the idea of attending sounds exhausting. To overcome this I simply make myself go, and I never regret it. Once I’m there I have a great time, it’s usually way more fun than I expected, and I’m so happy I attended. Don’t second-guess yourself, just go.

  2. Arrive Early. This seems counterintuitive, but it’s better to arrive early to an event. You may think it’s better to arrive later and quietly slip in, but it never works that way. When you arrive later people have broken into groups and are engaged in conversations. Now you have to try to join an ongoing conversation or feel like you’re interrupting. I hate that! When you arrive early it’s easy to start chatting with the few other people who are there and keep adding people to your group as they arrive. Plus you’ll get to meet the leaders of the event or organization which leads to…

  3. Get Involved. I get involved with organizations I like and events I want to attend. It’s much easier for me to meet people one-on-one or in small groups, and I like having something to do. When I have a responsibility or am volunteering on behalf of the organization, part of my job is to greet people and engage others in conversation. It’s also a great way to meet people who are well-connected...

  4. Meet the Influencers. There are influencers in any group or organization. Identify one or two people you’d like to know and make a point of meeting them. It’s much less stressful to focus on a few particular people rather than feeling as if I have to make friends with the whole room before I leave.

  5. Follow Up. If you truly enjoy getting to know people like I do, follow up after the event. Reach out to someone that you chatted with to continue the conversation. Send them an article or connect them with someone else they should know. Networking might happen at an event but real relationships are built over time.

For more tips on networking for introverts, check out our article Networking for Introverts: 10 Tips to Survive and Thrive at Events.

Networking: Don’t Shake Hands, Build a Network

By Kristen Harris

Do you cringe when you hear the word “networking”? Get invited to a “networking event” and suddenly have an unavoidable conflict? Often say “I hate networking”?

If all you can think of when you hear that word is a room full of fast-talking people handing out business cards and shaking hands, I challenge you to think differently about what networking really is.

Consider these definitions of network, as a noun:

  1. a group or a system of interconnected people or things

  2. an association of individuals having a common interest, formed to provide mutual assistance, helpful information, or the like

  3. any netlike combination of filaments, lines, veins, passages, or the like (e.g. a network or arteries; a network of sewers under the city)

Think about that visual of a net. An interwoven web, where people are connected to you and each other, building a fabric that is fluid but strong. Nets may have many strands or a few, and are made from relatively thin thread; the strength comes from how they are woven and knotted together.

Or, this definition, as a verb:

  1. to cultivate people who can be helpful to one professionally, especially in finding employment or moving to a higher position

Cultivate, that’s an interesting word. A network might be like a beautiful flower garden filled with people you like and care about. You choose what gets planted, and spend time tending to it, adding water and fertilizer to help it grow.

None of these definitions talk about giving a 30-second elevator pitch over and over, handing out business cards to anyone who will take one, or trying to shake hands with 100 people in an hour. That’s what gives “networking” a bad name, and makes people cringe. Don’t do that.

The activity and purpose of networking is truly to build a network.

Whether personal or professional, you’re creating a strong, vibrant, useful network of people of who know you, care about you, and are willing to help. And that you know, care about, and are willing to help as well.

How do you do that? Try just making friends. Go to places or events where people you might want to meet are likely to be. Be friendly, talk to someone, ask questions, learn about them, and tell them about yourself. Be a nice person, and ask for their card so you can connect later. After the event, decide who should be added to your network and invite them in through LinkedIn, email, or an invitation to get coffee. Purposefully spend time with people you like and find interesting, they’re likely to feel the same way about you.

Weave your net, or plant and tend your garden. Focus on quantity over quality, and person-by-person you’ll create a network that truly supports you.

For tips on networking for introverts, check out one of my previous blog posts.

Promotion: Getting the Word Out About You

The 4 P's of Marketing Yourself: Promotion, Part 3

By Catherine Lang-Cline

Once you have established where you need to be, how do you make an impact? How do you get remembered? How do you stay front of mind?

Creating your strategy for marketing yourself can be as easy as the 4 P’s: Product, Place, Promotion, and Price. Here we are going to talk about Promotion and how you can get the word out about you. These are some of the things that effectively work for me and for my company:

Partnerships > Sponsorships

At startup stage, we really didn’t have a lot of money. We had to think smart. We had to get the word out about us, so we sponsored an event. I know what you are thinking, sponsorships are a lot of money. Not necessarily if you go about it correctly. When groups put on a large event they cannot get enough money or volunteers. Many things can be offered in-kind or chipping in to help could be offered in exchange for logo placement at the event or on the website. If you are looking to meet people, you might be able to make an exchange for volunteering just for a ticket to the event. Stepping in at this level will also build great relationships. By the way, our first sponsorship was providing cocktail napkins to an event. That was all we could afford. Well, we did pay a little more to have our logo on all of them.

Invest in Branding

Get a really great looking logo and get it out there! This goes back to sponsoring events, writing articles, and handing out a lot of business cards. It is going to take the average person about 7 times of seeing your logo to actually remember it. Keep that in mind when exposing the world to your logo. It is not going to be a one-time thing. Persistence. Make it your friend. And make that logo memorable; clean, bright, and with your personality.

Use Networking to Build Relationships 

You may have noticed by now that this involves a lot of hand shaking and networking. All true. Personally, I had to learn to be comfortable with it. I would define myself as an un-shy introvert. What worked for me was walking into events and knowing that the only thing I may gain from it is getting to know someone a little better. When you go in with the desire to get to know people, what you do is build a network of people that will spread the word about you. All of our best clients and talent come from referrals. Put your time and money there first. It goes back to getting that 5-star rating from the people that really know you. Others will learn about that and take a chance on you.

Marketing yourself always needs a strategy. For me and my company it is always about the relationships; building and maintaining them. This goes for if you own a company or are just trying to get your foot in the door for your next job. One thing to be very aware of is that almost all people are very helpful. Do not be afraid to ask for help, connections, advice, or criticism. People will help as long as you are helpful and courteous in return.

Read part 4, Price, of our 4 P's of Marketing series. 

Place: Be Everywhere Without Being Everywhere

The 4 P's of Marketing Yourself: Place, Part 2

By Catherine Lang-Cline

There are many ways that people can advertise their services. Think about product placement in movies, commercials and magazines. The company needs to be very strategic to make sure their product is seen. Sometimes it needs to be seen in seconds and sometimes it needs to be seen in the time it takes for the consumer to flip the page. Yet products get found and purchased all of the time without having to advertise everywhere. You can do the same with some focus on where you need to be. I get told all of the time that “I see you everywhere.” In fact, I am not everywhere. I am just very strategic in where I need to be seen.

Creating your strategy for marketing yourself can be as easy as the 4 P’s; Product, Place, Promotion, and Price. Here we are going to talk about Place and how you can get connected to the right people in the right place. These are some ideas as to how you can be seen:

Show Up

Think about where your customer might be and focus on being there, too. Are there events or groups that draw the crowd that you wish to meet. Attend those events, shake hands, collect cards, and then follow up with the people that you met. People like working with people that have similar interests as them. Events that I attend or that my company sponsors are the ones where I want to build relationships with the attendees.

Provide Insight & Establish Expertise

Publish articles on LinkedIn that people can like and share. Speak to things that you are an expert on. If you get people to pass this around in your network they will see you more and more as the best in what you do. It was awkward for me at first, but I was rather surprised all of the knowledge I had gained over my years as a business owner and how what I’ve learned can help others just by writing it down.

Be Vocal About What You Want

Tell everyone you know what you are looking for. If you are looking to sell something or to find work, make sure that everyone in your network knows. What this does is expand your scope. You now have other people helping you and when they reach out to the people they know in their network, those potential clients are getting a testimonial about you. Nothing works better than to have someone else refer you. Think about how it works when you read testimonials on websites, about how it sways your opinion. Or when a friend refers you to a great restaurant they just ate it. This is an opportunity to get a 5-star rating from a friend or relative!

Save Time By Being Decisive 

Narrow down who you want to work with and focus on those companies. Rather than spend a lot of time or money blanketing your message everywhere, take the time to decide who you want to work with. If there is a company you have always wanted to work with or for, start connecting with the people that work there. Maybe you know someone there or you met them at an event? Do the research to determine what needs they have, how you can contribute and help problem-solve for their company and talk to people with that in mind. Once you have gotten as far as you can with the narrow search, expand it just a little and approach those companies. Then the next tier, then the next. The idea is not to take too much on at once.

Clean It Up

Finally, get your social media presence together. Professional photo on LinkedIn, update all of the information and make sure that it is consistent. If necessary, clean up your Facebook— people will check you out, make sure that you have it covered.

Don’t ignore the idea of casting a wide net. Opportunity can occur everywhere. Some people might say that it is all about being “in the right place at the right time.” What I am saying is that the right place to be is in relationships in your industry and your community. That way when the need arises, when opportunity knocks, they already know who you are.

Read Part 3: Place from our 4 P's of Marketing series. 

Effective Networking

By Catherine Lang-Cline

“I see you everywhere!”

That is what I hear, but honestly, that can’t be true because I can’t be everywhere. But I do make where I do go really count. Like most people, when you first start networking, it can be difficult. You search the room over and over for someone that you might know and then never leave their side for the entire event. But you know that you are there to get a deal, a big deal; that is what networking is all about, right? Not exactly.

Be confident in how you talk about yourself.

Let’s start with how you talk to people about you. What do you say to people? Many times I have heard entrepreneurs say, “I am just a start up.” “It’s just me right now.” “I have just this small business… “I am handling all the work I can.” All of these statements are awful. If you are saying this, please stop. Just those few words could not make me less interested in doing business with you. I like to work with people that are confident, people that see themselves as a thriving business. So talk bigger. “We are experts in …” “We are eagerly looking for ....” “We have # years expertise in this industry....” What? There is no “we?” Think again, because unless you are selling yourself as a consultant, you are a business made up of many roles. Yes, they may be currently all you. But a one-, five-, ten-person shop doesn’t matter; no one else needs to know that but you. Because you will find a way to get any size job done.

This is not the time for a sales pitch. 

On the other side, I hear a lot of business owners and people that work for someone else try and sell me too hard. I have just shaken your hand and you want to know if you can sell me your goods or services. The quick answer is “no” because I don’t know you, which means I do not trust you to enough to give you my money. Trying to build a relationship with me that is not all about you. Really listen and really hear what I do, what my struggles are, even what brings me to the event today.

Listen first.

Overall, talk to people and listen to people like you are their partner in business. Approach networking as a “what can I do for you?” experience vs a “who can I sell to in here?” Sales are important. But, again, no one buys from someone they don’t like or someone that immediately wants something or that they don’t believe they can complete the work effectively.

Build relationships, not prospects. 

Next up, you need to decide where to go to network. If you are new to networking, I’d advise you to go to as many events as you can just to practice your networking skills. After you are feeling more comfortable, you can get more strategic. Start going to events where your potential clients may be. Go to events that people in your industry attend. Attend events where you can get to know the game-changers first hand. Then tell everyone what you do. Note how I didn’t say sell to them. Get to know the people in your industry, learn what they do, and find out who you can help, even if it means you connect them with someone else. People remember that. I have had many, many conversations with people that buy nothing from me. But they might know someone that does need our services. I have also gone to networking events that turned into me joining a committee or the board of the hosting group. This is solid gold way of getting to know people better and getting to know who they all know in your industry. It’s about expanding your web. You could also consider sponsoring an event. Mentioning that you are a sponsor when introducing yourself tells people that you care about the people involved in an event. A little skin in the game is always a good thing.

What you will find is that the more events you go to, the more people remember you, the more people learn about what you do, how much you care about the industry you serve, and the more people will either use your services or happily recommend you.

5 easy steps to start career networking

Sharon DeLay is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Professional Career Coach. She wrote this article for our newsletter recently, we thought it was definitely worth a second read. Studies indicate that the most effective way to find a job is through networking. Whether you’re trying to get into the company of your dreams or move across the country, networking is the way to go. Research indicates that most of the jobs available today will be filled through networking, yet resistance to this method of securing a job remains high, mostly due to uncertainty about how to get started. Try these five easy steps to jumpstart your career networking strategy.
  1. Avoid assumptions. Often, the first words out of the new networker’s mouth are, “I don’t know anyone who can help me get to where I want. Everyone I know is just like me.” Actually, you would be surprised who people know. Even your closest friends and family members either know someone you should meet or know someone who knows someone. Don’t assume your current network is full of dead ends, which leads to the next point.
  2. Begin in your comfort zone. One misconception about networking is that you have to talk with people you don’t know. This is uncomfortable for a lot of people because they simply don’t like talking to strangers or don’t know what to say. Select a few people (friends, family members, co-workers, etc.) you know, like and trust to begin with them.
  3. Identify your goals. To get started, you need to first clarify a few things. What is it you want this year? A new position within your company? A new job altogether? New projects to expand your résumé? Knowing what you want to accomplish will help you determine your approach and what to say.
  4. Just ask. Because your first time is always a bit awkward, just make a determination that you’re going to just ask…to meet, talk on the telephone, get advice, or whatever it is you need to do. Once you get over the initial fear and discomfort of asking, it gets easier.
  5. Resolve not to ask for a job. That’s right; don’t ask someone for a job. If you ask someone for something not within his or her power to give you, he or she will be less inclined to want to help you. It’s a common human response: we tend avoid what we know we will fail to achieve (or that causes us pain). Rather than asking for a job, ask for information, other people to talk to, or feedback on how people perceive your skills, abilities and marketability. Nearly everyone can successfully give you what you need in these areas and this will ultimately lead you to your end goal.