relationships

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.

Do You Love Your Vendor?

By Catherine Lang-Cline

The partnerships are the best business relations and where we really thrive. We really work hard to understand and anticipate what our client needs. We really want our clients to succeed and look great! In return, we love clients that really understand why we are different, trust us, really appreciate the niche that we fill. Those clients want us to succeed, too.

Like all relationships, this sometimes requires work. We all have budgets, we all have stress, and we all just need to get the work done. That can sometimes cloud the judgment on both parts, but we press on, we find the right solutions. We find the relationship that works and hope that it turns into a partnership. A partnership that we can both feel the love. Let’s face it if you love your vendor you take the call. If you don’t...well, that one may just go to voicemail. We want you to take the call.

So what makes a great partnership?

  1. Communication - Clients need to be clear about what they want, vendors need to listen and make it clear they understand the ask. Both sides need to be responsive, it's the only way everything moves forward. Everyone needs to be clear on expectations.

  2. Respect - Clients and vendors need respect for each other. Neither side wants a relationship where one side is always taking. The vendor just wants to make the sale. The client just wants a lower margin. Always be thinking about what you can do to make this easier. Then everyone gets what they want!

  3. True compatibility - Do you really, really like working with each other? Are pricing and resources all a fit? Or are you just hanging on to a bad partnership because you don’t know what else is out there? Nothing is more terrible than if the partnership is simply painful. Get realigned or get out. That goes for everyone.

We just need to find our match. Wait a minute, am I still talking about vendors and clients? Yes, but it really isn’t any different in business vs life and love. We want someone easy to get along with, anticipate our needs, not be a bully or a taker. Sometimes we settle because we feel like we will never find the right person...I mean, vendor. Sometimes we make due with what is in front of us, afraid of the unknown, afraid to take a chance. Maybe we all need to show a little more give and take, not to mention a little more love.

We try daily to lay the love on our clients. Extra servings for everyone! Hopefully, everyone feels this way about their clients. If you don’t feel this way, you know where to find us, standing over here, holding this rose.

 

Recruiting is For Lovers: Life as a Professional Cupid

By Kristen Harris

My reality television weakness is The Millionaire Matchmaker or the newer version Million Dollar Matchmaker. In case you haven’t seen it, Patti Stanger (The Matchmaker) runs a high-end dating service (Millionaire’s Club). Every week she and her team select two high-net-worth individuals, preview potential dates for them, set up a social mixer, orchestrate a “master date,” get feedback from both parties, then decide how to move forward. She’s from a long line of matchmakers and focuses on helping her clients find true love, not just a hot date.

Guess what? Recruiters are matchmakers too; we focus on work relationships instead of personal, but the premise is the same. Whether we’re filling a short-term project or a full-time position, we do all the same things. Select great clients, preview potential candidates, set up an initial phone screen, schedule an interview (or several), get feedback from both sides, then decide how to move forward. If all goes well, an offer is made because both the client and candidate have found true love (or at least a very strong like). When it’s not a match made in heaven for either side, we keep looking until we find the right fit.

Often Patti has to figure out what is “wrong” with the client. Why have they not found true love on their own? She identifies patterns, reasons they might be selecting the wrong people, or actions that turn off the kind of people they want to attract. Maybe they say they’re looking for one type of person, but all of the dates they choose are a totally different profile.

These are the same things recruiters do for our clients. We dig a little deeper to figure out what they really need, not just what they say they want. We ask questions to figure out what the real criteria should be. We identify what makes our client special so we can share those qualities with candidates. If we see culture, language, reputation, or anything else that may prevent our client from attracting the type of person they want, we try to help them resolve those issues. We help candidates see great qualities about the company that may not be immediately visible on the surface. We don’t let our clients settle for someone who is just okay, we want them to find the perfect match.

And we do all of the same things for our candidates as well. It’s just as important to Patti and her team that the millionaire’s date has a good time and feels a connection. If it’s not a great match on both sides, it just won’t work out in the long run—it won’t be true love. We think our client is great or we wouldn’t be working with them, but sometimes they’re just not a great fit for that particular candidate. We want to create long-lasting relationships, to help people find companies where they’ll stay and grow.

Recruiters are hopeless romantics. We truly believe every match we make is going to be perfect and, if it’s not, we always believe the next one will be. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing you’re the professional cupid that helped connect two great people. Celebrate and share the love!

 

Do You Trust Your Vendor?

By Catherine Lang-Cline

In staffing, our client calls us because they need a person, the right person. We could send someone that just fits the skillset, but instead, we do more. We dig deeper and make sure that they are a fit on all levels. This means that we are not sending a ton of resumes; it means that we are asking our client to trust us. We want them to trust that we have vetted a huge group of people and have only sent them the best to choose from. We create a relationship with our client.

One of the best things a vendor can do for you is to work as your partner. It needs to feel like they are your right-hand person in solving their problem. It goes far beyond selling.

Do you feel that you have a trusting relationship with your vendor? It really can be quite easy. Check this list and see if your vendor does this:

  • Builds trust

  • Understands your business, inside and out

  • Knows the players involved on your team

  • Understands your financial concerns

  • Communicates, communicates, and communicates

  • Admits mistakes

  • Problem solves

  • Listens

  • Understands your culture

  • Is pleasant to work with

Bonus if they remember your birthday! Basically, your vendor needs to do more then manage your inventory; they need to manage the relationship. They need to be the go-to person that can solve your problems, not add to them.

And how about you as the customer? The best thing that you can do is #5. We want to hear the good, bad, and the ugly. Your feedback is important to us. Also, if we are doing a good job, tell others. We would love to know that we are doing such a great job you can recommend us to others. If you can’t recommend us, we want to know that, too.

Here’s hoping for a nice, long-term commitment of service!

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.

Freelancing Is The Future of Business

By Catherine Lang-Cline

According to Dustin Haisler, the Chief Innovation Officer of e.Republic, there are currently 53 million people, or 34% of the American workforce, freelancing.

By the year 2020, an estimated 74 million people, 50% of the American workforce, will be freelancing. 

What is causing the shift? First reason, the Millennials. While we have all been discussing the working practices and beliefs of the Millennial workforce as they started to enter the market, something happened: they grew to be a larger demographic than the Baby-Boomer generation. What this means is, if you want to be competitive in business, you are going to have to hire a lot of Millennials, and they are wanting to freelance.

The second reason, everyone else wants to freelance as well. In general, everyone is looking for a lot more life balance and finding their purpose. A lot of that purpose lies in the things that they are very good at. So even the seasoned workers are opting out of “business as usual” and looking for something that is giving them more purpose, more freedom to be with family, aging parents, or to just simply do the things that they want to do. Money may not matter for some as they are setting their own schedules and starting their own businesses. They are measuring success not by money, but by time, the time they get to choose what they want to do. And the time they get to work on things that they love to do.

What is great is that it can still result in positive results for your business. Staff having control of their time does not mean that they will work less. Most people work more, but choose when they will work. It can also help your business by eliminating the cost of hiring and firing. You can hire people as needed. You can afford to have people that you normally could not afford work on special projects for you because you are not hiring them and needing to keep them. You can briefly afford to hire the best in the business because they leave when they have completed the job.

As always, understand how this relationship works. Freelancers and contractors are not employees. Be very clear about this to people coming in who want to serve as a freelancer or consultant, as well as the people on your team. Not doing so could lead to tax implications and employment violations. If you have any concerns about how this is handled, you may want to contact your accountant or look into having a staffing company take on freelancers and contractors as temporary employees. That way, the responsibility of taxes, healthcare, etc. would be the responsibility of the staffing company.

Freelancing is becoming more of the norm. In many ways, this can be a real advantage to your company. You can work with people as they are needed rather than worrying about the cost of hiring, firing and overhead. Plus, you can surround yourself with the professionals that are working with a purpose.