May 21, 2018
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Michael Dulworth has a great networking book out called The Connect Effect – Building Strong Personal, Professional, and Virtual Networks. One of my favorite suggestions in Michael’s book is building a Personal Board of Directors (PBOD). According to Michael, a PBOD is similar to a corporate board of directors. It’s a diverse group of people who care about you and can provide advice and guidance throughout your life. The members of your PBOD will change over time, but some people, like a parent or sibling, may be there forever.

I really liked the idea and sat down to think about who I considered to be on my PBOD. Michael suggests keeping it to 6-10 people who are a mix of business and family. When I made my list, it included people who I go to for financial advise, like my friend who is a CPA and does my taxes. I have two or three people who I go to for business advise and finally two close friends who counsel me and listen about personal or spiritual matters.

Once I had my list, I contacted each person and acknowledged that I held them and their counsel as part of my PBOD. In a way it honored them, but even more importantly, it let them know that their opinions and help matter to my success.

Michael has lots of great networking suggestions in his book. Grab a copy and let me know what you think.

I found this post of Bill and Dave’s correspondence in the official HP archive worth posting. Referred to as the “11 Simple Rules”, these rules were first presented by Dave Packard at HP’s second annual management conference in 1958 in Sonoma, California.

  1. Think first of the other fellow. This is THE foundation – the first requisite – for getting along with others. And it is the one truly difficult accomplishment you must make. Gaining this, the rest will be “a breeze.”
  2. Build up the other person’s sense of importance. When we make the other person seem less important, we frustrate one of his deepest urges. Allow him to feel equality or superiority, and we can easily get along with him.
  3. Respect the other man’s personality rights. Respect as something sacred the other fellow’s right to be different from you. No two personalities are ever molded by precisely the same forces.
  4. Give sincere appreciation. If we think someone has done a thing well, we should never hesitate to let him know it. WARNING: This does not mean promiscuous use of obvious flattery. Flattery with most intelligent people gets exactly the reaction it deserves – contempt for the egotistical “phony” who stoops to it.
  5. Eliminate the negative. Criticism seldom does what its user intends, for it invariably causes resentment. The tiniest bit of disapproval can sometimes cause a resentment which will rankle – to your disadvantage – for years.
  6. Avoid openly trying to reform people. Every man knows he is imperfect, but he doesn’t want someone else trying to correct his faults. If you want to improve a person, help him to embrace a higher working goal – a standard, an ideal – and he will do his own “making over” far more effectively than you can do it for him.
  7. Try to understand the other person. How would you react to similar circumstances? When you begin to see the “whys” of him you can’t help but get along better with him.
  8. Check first impressions. We are especially prone to dislike some people on first sight because of some vague resemblance (of which we are usually unaware) to someone else whom we have had reason to dislike. Follow Abraham Lincoln’s famous self-instruction: “I do not like that man; therefore I shall get to know him better.”
  9. Take care with the little details. Watch your smile, your tone of voice, how you use your eyes, the way you greet people, the use of nicknames and remembering faces, names and dates. Little things add polish to your skill in dealing with people. Constantly, deliberately think of them until they become a natural part of your personality.
  10. Develop genuine interest in people. You cannot successfully apply the foregoing suggestions unless you have a sincere desire to like, respect, and be helpful to others. Conversely, you cannot build genuine interest in people until you have experienced the pleasure of working with them in an atmosphere characterized by mutual liking and respect.
  11. Keep it up.

I just downloaded a song by Gavin DeGraw called Follow Through that just might become my new theme song for this networking blog. Success in business, sports, and relationships often comes down to the follow through. Golf and tennis pros often point out the follow through of a swing will determine where the ball will land. The same applies to swinging a bat or throwing a ball. The follow through determines the end result.

What is your follow through strategy when it comes to networking? Do you simply collect business cards or do you do something with them? Here are some of my strategies:

  • When I add a networking event to my schedule, I block out 30 minutes on my calendar the next morning to follow up on contacts I made at the event. The follow up is usually an email saying how much I enjoyed meeting them, and it might include an offer to connect on LinkedIn or some other social network. Usually it includes a name or link to information that I found out would be helpful when I asked them how I could support them.
  • When I am at the networking event I write on the back of the card anything I promised to follow up about. That is the only way I’ll remember who I made commitments to, especially if it is a long evening with many introductions.
  • I give myself a task to follow up with them at some interval to reconnect. This might be to see if something I suggested worked or if they ever reached someone I introduced them to. I keep my name in front of them so that they remember the connection.
  • Even though I have a database (Salesforce) for my contacts through my employer, I keep the physical business cards in my personal files. I have boxes of business cards that I have collected over the years.

If you tell someone you meet that you will do something on their behalf, you must do it in a timely manner. Even if you reached out to your network to see if you could find what they needed and were unsuccessful, call or email them and let them know that you at least tried.

As Gavin says in his song, “Oh, this is the start of something good. Don’t you agree?”

 

Sue Connelly, founder of kit-list.org, has started a “Pay It Forward Wave” starting today, January 11, 2010. If you’re not a member of kit-list, it’s a free job listing service. Here’s Sue’s challenge. Please join me in making it happen.

Hello Everyone,

Today is the first of five days to create a powerful wave of action across the country in a tremendous force for good. If you didn’t see my earlier post about this idea, please read it for the full story.

Please do something right now. Just take a moment to do something simple and easy. Reach out. Make a call. Ask a friend what one or two things you can do to help with his/her job search.

We’ll use this blog as real-time way to find out what’s happening. Please use the comments section to suggest ideas or share what you did today for a friend.

Pass the word so we can get thousands across the nations mobilized to help get friends back to work! Please help by sharing this on your email lists, Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

Ideas for Things to Do:

  • Forward a job lead
  • Write a LinkedIn recommendation
  • Review a friend’s resume and give objective feedback
Set a time to meet for coffee or a drink (heck, we all need one these days!). In-person meetings are important, it bouys spirits and sparks ideas and energy – plus it’s fun!
  • Make some calls on a friend’s behalf
  • Pass on a link to a good job site or a great article on job search
  • Make an introduction to a friend in a company he/she is interested in
  • Reach out to a colleague who has been laid off from your company to see how he/she is doing and offer to make connections for him/her
  • Become a “Job Buddy” – commit to meet on a regular basis to set goals and provide gentle accountability (if you are both looking for jobs, there’s a double benefit)
  • Offer to do some role playing for a job interview
  • Tell (and write down!) four strengths/qualities you see in your friend
  • Review or help write a strong cover letter
  • Invite a friend to connect to you on LinkedIn with the purpose of giving them access to your network so he/she can see if you have contacts in companies on their wish list
  • • Help with career ideas, brainstorm on other ways to use their skills, suggest good companies to target, how to transition into a new industry

Let’s make this big push building a huge Pay It Forward Power Wave across the country!
Thanks so much,
SueKIT List Founder
http://www.kitlist.org/

…but what you can do for your network. Some people believe that if they create a LinkedIn or Plaxo account and add 500 people to it they have a network. Contacts aren’t necessarily connections. A connection is someone who knows you well enough to make an introduction (and ideally give a recommendation) for you.

Let’s say you met John at a network event three years ago. You both exchanged business cards, maybe you connected to each other on LinkedIn the next day, but there was no other follow up after the event and now three years have passed. You’re recently laid off in a very competitive job market (like the one we’re in right now) and you see the perfect job posted on a job board. You see through LinkedIn that John works for that company. What are the chances that he can or will help you if you give him a call? Will he even remember you?

Now what if when you met John at that event three years ago you asked him how you could support him and he mentioned that he was looking for a printer. You happen to know one of the best printers in his area and made an introduction. You followed up a few months later to see if he was happy with the results and let him know to reach out if you could help him again in any way. Chances are now when you call John about the job posting at his company, he’s going to help get your resume to the right person.

Your network is only as valuable to you as you have been to your network.

It’s always a little awkward being at networking event or party where you don’t know anyone. The onus is probably going to be on you to get a conversation going. Unless you’re an extravert, that’s going to be uncomfortable.

Here are some suggestions that might help

  • If there are refreshments, start by getting something to drink first. Chances are you’ll be able to start a conversation in line where you’ll have at least one thing in common with the other person – getting something to drink.
  • Make eye contact and smile. I’ve written about these two very important firsts in my previous blog, but I have to repeat them here. Then it starts with “Hello.”
  • If you’re in line or standing next to someone you might comment on their clothing or something about them that you like. Personally, I love fashionable shoes and clothing. I often start a conversation telling someone how much I like what they are wearing. Who doesn’t want to hear that?
  • If two or three people are standing in a group chatting, make eye contact with one, smile, and ask, “Do you mind if I join you?” Most people are there to network. They really do want to meet you and will include you into the conversation.
  • If you’re having a particularly low energy day, get some appetizers and drink and stand at one of the tables that are usually available and wait for someone to come to you. If you’re making eye contact and smiling, they will come. Remember, you don’t have to get every card in the room, just the right one.

If you’re chatting with one or two people, be aware of others in the room who are trying to be included. Be a good networker and smile and invite them into your conversation. You will be ahead of the game with them in terms of how they will trust you if you made it safe for them to be included, and people work with people they trust.

Remember when we learned about compounded interest and how starting even a modest savings program early in life would build a financial foundation for our retirement years? Some of us started saving right away and faithfully continued to build our nest egg. Others decided to live in the moment and let the future take care of itself, only to find themselves without resources when they needed them. Building your network works the same way. Don’t wait until you need help to build a support network.

I often give this analogy to young people starting their careers or even still in college. Take advantage of the relationships you’re forming every day of your life. Keep in touch with the Professors you had in college, the colleagues you work with throughout your career, and the people you move with in the community.

Find a way at least once a year to check in with them. Send an article that they might find interesting – perhaps on a topic the two of you shared in the past. Ask how they are doing and what’s new in their world. Perhaps share a new highlight in your life. Always end letting them know to reach out if there is anything you can do to support them.

More about that in my next article.

Networking and sales is a delicate balance. One of the assets of a great salesperson, besides industry knowledge and sales charisma, is their rolodex. Did I just date myself? Perhaps I should say it’s their LinkedIn connections. Who you know is sometimes more important than what you know.

My networking strategy is not designed to close business. It is designed to be a network of help that opens a two-way door. The risk of selling to my network is that it changes the dynamic of the relationship from a connection to a customer. My behavior as a customer is much different than my behavior as someone in your network. As a customer, I’m only responsive when I need what you are selling. As a connection, I’m more likely to meet or respond if you need an introduction.

“But,” you say, “I have a great offer and I want to share it with my network!” It’s still sales and they are the customer, not a connection. If you’re in a sales role, use your network to open doors that will close business. If you consistently reach out to sell them something, you might find yourself without a network.

I’m very curious to hear other opinions on this topic. Do you have one?

Business cards are a great tool for quickly giving someone your contact information. If you don’t have a job that supplies a business card, you can easily order one online or at any local business center. If you’re just out of school or in between jobs, it’s still a great idea to have a personal card that you can hand out as you make business and personal connections. Take your networking seriously and ensure that you always have a few cards in your pocket, wallet, or purse.

Now that we’ve established that you have a business card, I’ll get to my real point, which is: keep it in your pocket. Have you ever been to a networking event and had someone walk up and before you’ve even said hello, they’re handing you their business card? Their networking strategy is to see how many cards they can hand out and collect at the event. That’s their strategy, but I don’t advise that you make it yours. The person with the most business cards does not win. The person with the right business card does.

People do business with people they trust. You have to take the time to establish a connection before you prospect for business. Introduce yourself by name, and if you feel compelled, you can mention your company. Unless they ask what your company does, steer the conversation to learn more about them. Most people love to talk about themselves. If they work for a company you haven’t heard of, ask about what their product or service does. Be genuinely interested in their company and customers if you want to help them. The more you understand about their world, the faster you will gain rapport. You may find that you bond over something other than work, like children, pets, music, sports or any number of topics.

You will win the business by having the best service or product offering, but you will first open the door by having established a rapport.

No matter whether you’re trying to get directions from a stranger, a pork chop from the butcher, or a business card at a networking event, it starts with a smile. I suppose technically, it starts with making eye contact, but it’s the smile that opens the door.

What makes someone approachable when you walk into a room? Who do you gravitate toward?

Recently I was playing “Greeter Girl” at my church on a Sunday morning. The “Greeters” hand the weekly bulletin to the church members entering the sanctuary and welcome them to the service. There were two of us handing out bulletins as people came in. I noticed that whichever one of us made eye contact and smiled first was the one they would reach out to for the program. This happened over and over again. It made me realize how important it is to make sure that I smile and let people know that it is safe to talk to me.

We often think that we’re the only ones who are afraid to talk to strangers. We don’t realize that we are the stranger in their eyes.

What can you do to make it safe for people to talk to you?

You can smile!