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Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

Is it? Is your story alluring? Does it beguile, bewitch, or enthrall? Is it fascinating, engaging, maybe even mesmerizing? No? It can be…it’s all in how you tell it.

I was thinking about the TV show This American Life the other day and remembered an interview of Ira Glass, the host of the show. It was an excellent interview that spoke to the importance of not just telling a story, but telling it well and telling it with a rhythm that holds the audience and makes them want to discover the meaning of the message.

When I thought of this interview it made me think of Bobby Rettew, a good friend and a great videograpther. Every time I’m with Bobby he tells me, “It’s all about the story. You have to ask the question, ‘what’s your story,’ and then tell that story in a way that engages.” It sounds simple enough doesn’t it? It is…it’s just not easy to do.

If you feel the story you use to describe yourself or your business falls short of the adjectives listed in the first paragraph of this post, watch the interview of Ira Glass below. It’s packed with good advice and it’s only 5 minutes long. If you want more, visit Bobby’s Blog, read up and then connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. He has links to these sites on his blog. He’s a smart guy and you’ll find he’s very helpful.

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It never ceases to amaze me how foolish people can be. I’ve been involved in a group in my home town called The Business Fellowship for some time now and we had a really great speaker scheduled for this last meeting, so I decided to invite a few friends; three in fact. One immediately said yes, one couldn’t make it because he had to go out of town, but one responded to my e-mail with this reply:

“I’ll pass. I already have more work than I can or want to do.”

I spent the rest of my day shaking my head over that one! Now understand, this fellow is a contract employee in a very stable industry and really does have all the work he could want or need. But my question is, what is he doing to build his professional network in case he ever finds himself looking for another company to work with? Networking is not always about finding more work. There are many reasons to network. Let’s look at some of the reasons Jeff Taylor talks about in his book, Monster Careers: Networking.

Networking Separates You from the Pack
If you had two applications in front of you and both were from people that are new to the work force, but equally qualified; which would you look at more closely? An applicant that is well networked (student counsel, volunteer, school newspaper, toastmasters) or one that isn’t?

Networking Catches You When You Fall
If you are laid-off or your company goes under, wouldn’t it be nice to have a solid group of contacts that can help you land that next job? If you’re self-employed, this same group can lead you to your next client.

Networking Opens Up New Possibilities
Sometimes you’ll run across clients you never thought to call on, or a career you never thought to pursue.

Networking Makes You More Valuable to Your Company
Power people network! How many potential colleagues could you meet while networking? Lots!

Many people think networking is just for entrepreneurs or salesmen, but the reality is everyone should be networking. Don’t be like my friend who was so fast to say no. Consider all opportunities to meet people and build relationships. This group may not have been a good fit for him, but he’ll never know. Here’s hoping all that business never dries up! 🙂

Reference: Monster Careers: Networking, Chapter 1, Pages 5 – 6

Image: successfromthenest.com

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Recently on Jim Sharp, I wrote an article on filling your Sales Pipeline. In the book I’m reading right now, Meatball Sundae, Seth Godin wrote a short section that fits well with this theme. (Click here to go to my Squidoo Len and see the book) This is what he wrote:

“Every business has its 1 percent. Every business has a group of customers so motivated, so satisfied, and so connected that they want to tell the rest of the world about you and what you do.

Your challenge is to give these people a megaphone. To switch your view of the market from a vertical funnel (attention at the top, sales out at the bottom) to a horizontal one, in which ideas spread from one prospect to another.” *

He makes a great point. We all have customer advocates, and those advocates can be a sounding board that can make your business or your sales boom. Word-of-mouth and word-of-mouse are two powerful tools. Work to over deliver and excel in what you do, and these advocates will propel you to the top!

* Meatball Sundae, Seth Godin, Page 84

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During an Interview

I had a friend of mine ask if she could interview me for a class project she was working on. They needed to assess a small business that uses 3 computers or less and they would come back with some recommendations for software that may be helpful to the business. She thought that On The Edge, a newsletter I publish, would be a good fit.

The interview went well. She and a young man from her class sat and talked with me for about an hour. It was helpful and I think once they go back to their class and make their report, they’ll come back with some good suggestions that may save me some time and money.

What I found interesting though, was the young man she brought along. My friend is retired and is going back to school just for the fun of learning. She’s not sure where it will lead, but she enjoys the challenge and her classes. But this young man is 26 years old and wanted to get into Computer Networking and IT. So I started quizzing him on what he is doing now that will help him get a job in the future. I kept getting blank stares. Here are some of the things I was asking him:

1. What organizations have you joined that are helping you get in front of potential employers?
2. Do you have a LinkedIn profile?
3. What books are you reading, apart from your class text book, that will help you excel in your chosen field?
4. Do you understand where I’m going with this?

Unfortunately he didn’t. So I told him about GSATC and about their Tech after 5 networking meetings. I explained LinkedIn to him and suggested he sign up and build a profile. Since I don’t know much about Computer Networking and IT, I couldn’t suggest a good book on that subject. But I do know a good bit about Career Networking and I suggested he read Monsters Career – Networking. It is one of the best Career Networking books I’ve ever seen and every college student should read it. I also gave him the name of an IT Recruiter I know through some of the Tech after5 meeting I’ve been to.

It seems to me that our colleges need to do a better job of preparing their students for the future. While they’re doing a fine job on the technical side of education, they should also be teaching the personal side of building relationships in your chosen field. Maybe this fellow will listen, maybe he won’t. I have a feeling that the latter will prove true. In this new economy, we need to be interwoven into a community that can help propel us in our careers. Especially in a career like IT, it can change on a dime and you never know when you’ll be hunting that next job.

So my big question of the day is, what are you doing to propel your career?

Image: pmi.org

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One of the best ways to get known is to get published. Jeffrey Gitomer touches on this point often. His column, Sales Moves, is published in a number of Trade Journals around the country. He also writes an E-zine called Sales Caffeine that is distributed electronically to well over 100,000 subscribers weekly. He practices what he preaches!

Another way to get published is blogging. That’s what I do. But how can someone just starting out drive some hits to a blog like mine, or to a page to sign up for an E-zine like Jeffrey’s? One way is submitting articles to Article Submission Sites. These sites are places you can go to submit free reprint articles to promote yourself by sharing what you know about what you specialize in. Sites like these are an outlet for companies that write E-zines or blogs. Many of them are on the prowl for good content they can use as a filler. This makes producing their publication easier for them, because they don’t have to come up with all the content. And it’s a great opportunity for you, because if a company includes your article in their publication they’re required to include your byline, which can lead people to your site.

Here is a list of Article Submission Sites. Some are active, and others are dead. There are many more, but this is a good start. Part of networking is getting known. This is just another way for you to get the word out about yourself.

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While out perusing the web, I ran across this great post on Some Assembly Required. It served as a reminder to me that I need to start writing more hand written thank you notes. I do it from time-to-time, but often neglect it. Each time I’ve taken the time to do this though, I’ve received an overwhelming response!

Hand written notes really do work. Don’t let the excuses Thom mentions keep you from utilizing this powerful tool. If you’re trying to build a relationship, a personal touch goes a long way!

Image: charmaineyoest.com

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It’s tempting to avoid face-to-face meetings for some, but they are still the best way to build relationships. While you’ve heard me say that it’s important to learn how to network online, especially for Owls, you can’t just fill out the information in LinkedIn and expect people to flock to you with their friendship and referrals. There is more to it than that.

Ivan Misner makes some good points about this in one of his latest posts on his blog, Networking Now. Click here to learn a little more about this subject.

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