Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

You can see it in the distance.  Sometimes the road looks foggy, even a little scary, but you know you have to follow it if you want to reach your destination, your goal, your dreams.

Just like Dorothy did in the Wizard of Oz, keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep moving forward in spite of your fears, your self-doubt and your self-imposed excuses.

In my last three blogs I’ve shared some unique and out-of-the-box tips on networking, but none of that will help you if you don’t follow-up with the people who can lead you to your destination.  So here they are, five specific actions to take after meeting that person you believe can help you:

 1.   Don’t ask the expert to do the meeting scheduling. When you ask someone to meet with you, send them specific dates to consider.  If those dates are not available to them, they will send you options.  The most important thing is that you’ve started a conversation. 

2.       Make the meeting convenient and maybe even active. If you are asking for an hour coffee or lunch, choose a location that is convenient to the person you have asked to meet with you.  Even better, if you think they are open to it, ask to go for a walk.  They say that some of the best deals are made on the golf course, so why not the trail path?

3.       Go with a prepared list of questions.  Before you even meet, think carefully about  what you want to learn from this contact.  Make a list of questions so no one feels like their time is being wasted. 

4.       Find out what you can do for them.  Always end the meeting by asking what you can do to help them.  It could be business related, like introducing them to a valuable contact.  Or it can be personal, like telling them about the best restaurant in town.

5.       Always thank them more than once. In this day of instant everything, send a thank-you email or text immediately.  You know what else is amazing? A handwritten thank you note. Because very few people do this anymore, it will really make you stand out.

Give these follow-up tips a try and let me know how it goes.  You’ll be amazed at how one thing leads to another.   And one day when you find yourself in front of Oz, you will realize that even though the path was scary at times, it was also loads of fun.

Categories: Personal Development Positive Attitude Professional Development Professional Speaker
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Tips Tricks & Techniques to Make Networking Fun

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

Since we’re on a roll here, let’s continue this series on networking.

I’ve heard from so many people that they really dislike face-to-face networking.  It makes them feel intimidated and uncomfortable and they just don’t want to do it.  This made me wonder:  how can we turn the tables, flip the switch, and think differently about networking. 

I came up with five simple steps to make a game out of it – to actually make it fun.  So here are some tips, tricks and techniques to try.  Now remember, the key word here is “try.”  Pick and choose the techniques that are right for you and your personality.  I’m going to challenge you, though, to step out of your comfort zone – that is the only way you will grow.

So here we go…

1.       Get to the networking event early.  This may sound really simple, but many people show up in time for the speaker, then leave immediately after.  That is NOT networking.  By getting to the event early, you will feel less intimidated because there are fewer people there.   Then you can really focus on who you want to meet and start a conversation with.

2.       Don’t tell yourself “no”.  Many times my inner voice starts screaming: “no one wants to meet you, you have nothing of value to offer, no one will listen to you…” If this ever happens to you, STOP and hit the delete button!!!  There are enough people out there already telling you “no” so don’t become one of them.  Instead choose your three greatest attributes and repeat them to yourself over and over again.

3.       If it feels comfortable to you, wear something that stands out.  I often wear my red boots because people will compliment me on my boots.  It’s a great conversation starter.  Anyone can wear something that’s a little different – maybe a different colored shirt or tie or blouse.  It will make you stand out from the crowd.  Try it and see if it works for you.

4.       Smile.  It’s a powerful show of confidence which people respect and are drawn to.  Smiles are contagious and the simple act of smiling makes people feel better.  No matter who you’re approaching,  there is no stronger opener.

5.       Remember the #1 rule – LISTEN.  Meeting people is about making their lives better.  Whether you give them a smile, a new job or anything in between, there is a way to help everyone.  Listen and learn about what matters to them.  People want to tell their stories.  Be the person who is excited to hear them.

I encourage you to try all five techniques.  After all, how do you know which ones will work best if you don’t test them?  Let me know if you have a favorite. 

Now go out there an have some fun networking!

Categories: Personal Development Positive Attitude Professional Development Professional Speaker
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5 Networking Questions that Actually Work!

Professioal Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

In my blog last week, I shared a unique way to look at face-to-face networking, especially if you are a bit introverted or on the shy side.  The key is to think of networking as simply starting a conversation, that’s all.  You’re not trying to make a sale, interest people in your idea, or land your dream job.  Your only goal is to start a conversation. 

But how can you reach out to people and engage them in a conversation that will help you determine if they are a good fit for you?

Well, here are five specific questions to help you get started.  Five questions that can help you in any networking situation:

  1. Start a conversation with “Where are you from?”  This can trigger a number of different responses.  They could talk about the company they represent, where they grew up or where they currently live.  It is a great start to a conversation because it can be answered in a number of different ways.
  2. When they tell you what they do, ask: “Describe your typical day to me.”  So many times people use industry jargon and you have no idea what they are talking about.  This is a simple way to understand what they do on a day-to-day basis.
  3. Instead of asking “What do you do?” ask “Where do you work?”  It’s a simplier question to ask because people may be more comfortable talking about their company instead of themselves. 
  4. “How did you come up with that idea?”  This is especially good for people who are self-employed.  There is usually a good story behind starting your own business.
  5. Find something in common that you can share with them in your opening conversation.  For instance, “I see that you belong to the chamber.  So do I.

These are just a few examples for getting a conversation started.  Pick and choose the ones that work for you.  Once you ask the question, your next goal is to LISTEN.  Only in listening can you determine if this person is a good match for your service or product.  Only by listening can you decide if you want to follow up with a second meeting.

I’m curious which question works best for you.  Please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Categories: Personal Development Positive Attitude Professional Development Professional Speaker
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Nifty Networking Tips: Let’s Make This Easy AND Fun

Professional Speaker-Personal Development-Positive Attitude

There are so many different reasons for networking.  What’s yours?  I challenge you to think out-of-the-box.

Are you networking to:

                Get more business

                Sell a product or service

                Raise money

                Raise awareness

                Find a job

                Find a date

Whatever your reason is, write it down – then go after it with a vengeance. Be clear about your goal.  It will help you avoid unfocused networking and will save you a LOT of time.

Next, find the group that is best for you.  One where you can meet people who will help you reach your goal. I know that going to the first meeting – the one where you don’t know anyone – can be quite intimidating.  And if you’re anything like me, it can be extremely nerve wracking.  You face a sea of strangers stretched out before you – and all you want to do is turn and run out the door.  You’re uncomfortable and unnerved and uncertain.

If you have ever felt like this, here’s a little tip:

Think of networking a little differently.  Know that networking is not talking to strangers but rather starting a conversation.  That’s all you’re trying to do at this point – start a conversation.  You are not looking to close the sale, land the job or get the check for your project.  Although that would be nice, chances are it will take more than one meeting to reach that goal.  So for now, you’re only objective is to talk to this person long enough and decide if you want to schedule a second meeting.  Is this someone who can help you?

So, instead of seeing strangers, think of this networking event as an opportunity to meet potential clients or potential friends.  Personally, I love using the word curious.  It changes your mindset.  Think:  I’m curious who I’m going to meet today.  I’m curious how they can help my business.  I’m curious how I can help them.  This one word will help you look at the opportunities that lay before you.  It can make all the difference in the world.

Remember that the people at the networking event are the same as you.  We all have insecurities; we all have doubts.  But most of us want to help each other. If you are at the same event, chances are that you already have a lot in common.

So whether you’re at a corporate event or in a coffee shop, you never know who can help you.  You never know who you can extend a helping hand to in return.  So start that conversation.  If you find this difficult, tune in next week and I’ll give you some tips and tricks on how to do exactly that.  In the meantime, start with a smile and simply say “hi.”

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