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This is where the real game goes. In previous situations, the people you are networking with are either people you already know, will have to interact with, or people who might not care whatsoever. When you attend professional events, you meet people who are productive, solid or at least interested in their professional careers, and most of all, people who care about networking too!
First of all, I highly recommend you to go to as many professional events as possible. Professional events include speaker events, networking events, or trade shows for your appropriate industry. It is also recommended to have your supply of business cards, so people can remember you better.
In professional events, it is EXTREMELY important to be initiative and conduct yourself in a confident manner. Most people there are hunting for more connections, and you want to look like a good target. You need to forget about the harmless dragon. Just walk to someone, introduce yourself, and engage in a conversation of learning more about each other. Don’t try to get everyone. Try to establish a couple good relationships with the people there so it only becomes natural for you to send a follow up email greeting afterwards.
Each talk should at least be 3-5 minutes long. In this case it is very much like random networking, but your questions and topic will be more geared towards the professional side. Unless you appear arrogant, people will usually respect your confidence and treat you as an equal. At the same time, show respect for what the other person has accomplished and be willing to learn from him/her. If you feel that the person did something impressive, it never hurts to give a compliment. Most people are happy when you confirm to them about their abilities and accomplishments, especially when they were begging for someone to notice it/them. A simple sentence can change much of one’s mood. Don’t suck up, but let what you believe is true slip out naturally and easily. Be straightforward in compliments.
When in a speaker event, it is usually wise to meet someone new before the speaker starts to talk. Use the exact same method as before and introduce yourself, exchange business cards (not contact information yet if you don’t have business cards). When the speaker event starts, sit next to this new friend. Even though the two of you will probably not be interacting in the event, just acknowledging each other on the side for a longer period of time builds an appreciation than simply meeting and parting.
After the speaker event, when you are about to depart, and you don’t have business cards yet, you could offer to exchange contact information. If you have done what we have covered in previous chapter correctly, they most likely would be willing to exchange contact information. You just made another friend.
In a speaker event, the speaker is obviously very important too. After you listen to his/her speech, it’s a good idea to go up and thank him/her. Introduce yourself while you are at it, and ask for a business card. Many people do speaker events just to network too! They usually happily give you one when they have it (you would be surprised by how many professionals who don’t have it).
After the professional event, you should always send follow-ups to people you newly met through email or what seems to be appropriate. Just send a simple note saying “hey, it was nice meeting you today! Just checking if this email address works” or something along those lines. Remind them of who you are and ask to stay in touch. If you are emailing the speaker, then you could include what he said in his speech. People appreciate it when you remember what they said (especially when everyone else was drooling their nice suits wet).
When you send these follow-ups, don’t expect a reply. Replies only come from great people; not all speakers are great people. As mentioned before, think about how long does it take for you to reply to a friend? Maybe sometimes you forget after awhile? When this happens, it depends on how important do you think the person is, but I recommend sending a second or even third round of emails after a month or two. Maybe then they’ll be interested in replying (this is when the discipline of persistence becomes handy). Just remember to always stay sincere and polite.
This takes a bit of talent. This is when you are simply sitting in the library, on the elevator, waiting for a bus, and you are going to meet the person there next to you. These random networking are starts to some great things that have happened. You don’t need to wait for opportunities in your life to get you, create as many as you can.
It doesn’t have to be a great and long conversation, and there’s nothing to lose. The harmless dragon is very apparent in this situation. You simply make some comments on something around, the weather, inconveniences, anything, and that person would likely add a sentence to it. Once initial contact is established here, you can then go along with “Oh yea, my name is Mename.” Smile and maybe offer a handshake if you feel appropriate. That person could do the same, or could feel a bit embarrassed. You don’t have to worry, respect that person, but be confident, and SMILE. Once you both introduced yourselves (and try to remember his/her name!) you can start asking little questions like “So, how’s everything going in life?” and exchange the same information about yourself.
After a little conversation, you probably have decided if you like this person or not (and vice versa), and you can make it just a nice encounter, or you could say, “Hey, it’s really nice meeting you here. Would you like to exchange contact info and stay in touch every once in awhile? I would love to (or it’ll be cool to) find out how that thing of yours turned out to be, haha.” And most people who actually got to this point with you would gladly agree and exchange information (In which you would put into your database). For certain people, it’s also easy to ask if they have a FAQQLY or Facebook account so you can add them. These are social networking sites that help you learn from and about your friends. If that is the case, you simply need to know their name to add and you’re connected.
When you feel like you are done with this friendly talk, simply tell him/her that it was great meeting him/her and say things like “hopefully I’ll see you sometime again Youname!” (This is where people appreciate if you actually remembered their names)
Now Random Networking might sound strange, but I’ve seen people who met their business partners or employers through this process. Again, you want to appear confident and able. Let people feel that you can add value to something (whatever it might be that they need). You want to be optimistic and smile so you make people feel pleasant about you. These are all essentials for strong networking.
There’s always someone to know wherever you go.
In the RewardMe Work Environment: Coworkers, Superiors and Janitors
In the work environment, you could say everyone is an existing contact that is relevant to RewardMe. Or can you? So many times people just think about coworkers as “the guy that sits across from my cubicle” and only know that they are lazy and talk loud on the phone. They’re not regarded as people. They’re viewed as the environment, the setting, the job title.
Out of 35 coworkers, many people only know 3-4 personally. Maybe you just get along with 3-4, but does that mean the others aren’t people? Does that mean they’re not worth caring for? You should maintain good relationship with everyone you work with. Have a little friendly chat every once in awhile or simply just a hello. Smiling is a very useful tool here in this environment, where everyone works under boredom or stress and would rather sit on a beach or just watch TV.
It’s the same concepts that apply with your superiors and people who work under you. Don’t be scared when talking to your superior. Be confident and smile. Apologize with respect of what you did wrong.
Don’t be arrogant when you talk to people who work under you. Be confident and smile. Apologize with things that you did wrong. Would you work harder for a boss that apologizes to you? People who work under you might feel the same way.
Do your work the best you can. Don’t slack. Do more than you need. Instead of complaining about your lack of responsibilities and promotions, prove that you deserve them. Your boss that sees you being more capable of your work will give you more work (ah, something that many complain about again), and when you do it well without more pay, he/she’ll give you a position that justifies your ability. In fact, you should ask for more work! People who are under you who see you are hard working will also feel the culture and become more hard working. That helps you get your projects done on time. You can push them, but always remember to care about their feelings, and set by example. They need to be willing, not pushed. In the work place, just like everywhere else, attitude is everything.
People with similar positions as you need a little more work. They might think you are a suck up and dislike you. However, in many cases, if you always maintain a good relationship with them, and they will know you are hard working in nature (hopefully also one with integrity), more often than not they will be fine with it. They see your work ethic and know that they chose to not put in the effort you did. This works out well when you often have a sincerely smile and ask them if you could help them with anything.
Most of all; don’t be phony. Don’t pretend you have a good work ethic. HAVE a good work ethic. People at your work place are more often jealous of those that are hypocritical and pretend to be someone else in front of superiors.
If you did all of that, and people still dislike you, it’s their personal flaw and you don’t need to worry about it. Let their unjustified jealousy choke themselves.
You can even give coworkers advices on working harder too so they don’t need to complain about their position anymore. Again, think of the analogy of the pit. If you help your coworkers become your superiors (even though you would most likely succeed instead with the right mind set), then you would have a superior who appreciates you and would present you other opportunities every time there is one. He/she’ll write the best references for you to his superiors or your new employers. If you do that often, you’ll likely end up where you were aiming for, and you are in good terms with those around you. Now you have accomplishment and peace in mind (and great connections!). Don’t try to lower other people, try to raise yourself and others. Competing is for short-term purposes; helping is for long-term achievements. You can decide which one is more important.
Janitors are important too. Shock! Is that possible? Janitors are people too. And people have infinite possibilities. You never know what that person will do tomorrow or is doing today! They for sure know some people that you don’t know and some things that you don’t. You can even help them to do something great and we end up back into the pit analogy again. That nice thing is that, janitors are easy to be friendly with, as they don’t expect a lot from you. You simply need to smile, say hello, and ask about how they are doing to make their day better.
Think about this scenario: maybe one day you will be sitting in office in a bad mood. The janitor who you have been friendly with regularly sees it and asks if there is anything wrong. You explain to him your problems. There is chance that he may say, “Oh yea, my uncle is an expert in this field and might be able to help you out! I’ll go ask him for you.” That could turn out to be valuable resources and connections.
You should care for all, because maybe one day you would like one of them to care for you.
Your existing contacts, for most of you, are your most important contacts. I say that because they probably have the longest history with you and are the most personal. They are ones that are likely to care about you more (remember, most people don’t have the true cores of Networking). All the other networking activities are mainly trying to expand this group of people. This isn’t a sale; it’s a relationship, and maintaining existing relationships are just as important as getting new ones.
The easy part about this one is that: you already know how to do most of it, or else they wouldn’t be your friends in the first place. Now the only thing you have to work on is to apply some of the cores and principles to it.
The No.1 rule in this is to ALWAYS MAINTAIN CONTACT INFORMATION. If you still know how to contact your friends from elementary school, middle school, and high school (and I mean all of them), how much bigger would your network be? True, some of them haven’t done that many amazing things in their life, but I guarantee you that all of them know someone that you don’t, something that you don’t, and some place that you don’t. Even if its just one thing per person, with all these people that you lost contact with, isn’t that still pretty amazing? Perhaps it’s impractical to actually know all of them, but we must first know the ideal before we can work towards it.
Following with the principles given before, the next rule is to actually contact and checkup on your contacts. Once a year or however long is appropriate for that specific person, send an email or make a call. Check how are they doing and if their life is going well. It doesn’t need to be the best conversation, but just remind them that you still exist and still care. You’ll also have a good idea of the things they will be able to help you at if there is ever such need.
Now remember that during this process, you must always maintain the 6 cores introduced earlier in this guide. They must be ingrained in you. They must become who you are. With that in mind, when you talk to your contacts, always make them feel that whenever they need help, they can come to you. Again, think about how you can help others (that in itself is an opportunity!) not how others can help you.
Be a good friend, and you will receive good friendship.
As for your family, they can’t really run away, so all I can say is to treat them well. Family is valuable because they are usually the people who “would” give you the most care and help. Many people forget to maintain a good relationship with family members until they need some kind of help. This is because most people know help will come anyway. Don’t abuse this relationship. There isn’t much to say about this, just don’t be the donkey in the family; be the one with the carrot.
Nowadays there are quite a few social websites out there. Many of them help you know more friends and Network. I will share with you a few of them that are more focused on the professional side. Check them out.
So why would I write an eBook about Professional Networking without sharing about the free Professional Networking service I created? So there you go. The RewardMe Network is a non-profit network created to help members expand their professional connections and assist in each member’s success. Different from other networking sites, this one is a lot more personal because the Network itself acts as an ultimate friend who cares about your success and knows a whole range of professional people and exactly what they do. This way it can refer you to any of them when you need. It also provides you with lots of resources that can increase your productivity and success.
The Network has a personality itself and communicates with each member and therefore knows the need and specialties of each of them. Instead of automatic functions of searching for people you don’t know, you contact the FD Link, and the Link connects you to someone you need, just like a common friend.
To join the Rewardme Network, go to RewardMe.com. Members have 2 simple obligations:
Pretty simple stuff. I recommend you checking it out.
This is a networking site mostly for business people. It has some very useful resources and tools, along with around 1 Million users. The biggest setback is that it requires a paid membership to use the better functions of the site. I have never tried the paid membership functions so I can’t give too many comments on it, but if you are interested, go to http://Ecademy.com and check it out yourself.
Another professional networking website that is a lot larger and more developed than the FD Network. It is like a website where you can search people within their companies or professionals and get connected to them, depending on if you know anyone that knows them. There is also an endorse system for anyone to indicate a good job with any of the previous positions one has had.
If you have a healthy work history and would like to connect with your past coworkers and perhaps connect to even more people, visit http://linkedin.com and get connected.
Like any other crafts in this diversified world, you need to get familiar with some tools that will help you in networking. This is a short chapter on the tools and resources out there that you always have at your disposal when needed.
Humans are Vision Creatures of Rewards
Appearances are extremely important in presenting yourself, and presenting yourself is extremely important in networking. It’s sad to say, but to network well, you at least need to have the option of dressing well and looking nice. I have always worked hard in having an unbiased view of people in terms of their appearance and how they look, but for some subtle reason I seem to automatically respect someone more when the first time I see him/her is in professional attire. According to psychological studies, most of our views of a person are determined in our first encounter with them. As a result, our first impression with someone else is of great importance.
So what is this saying? Dress nicely, or at least have something to dress nicely in, so you can if you want to. Remain true to your style, but at least be aware of it and have something “professional” that’s hiding in the closet. This obviously depends on your profession, but you get the idea.
And again, a smile is of immense usefulness in any situation that requires interacting with people (ok, maybe not when they are mad at you, but you can figure that out by yourself, hopefully). I cannot stress this enough, and no one does it enough. A smile shows confidence and pleasantness, which makes people want to know you. It is a great tool to have. You should smile now (just for practice, especially if you haven’t done it today yet).
It’s pointless, at least in networking, if you know someone that you will never interact with again. Therefore, you must hold on to peoples’ information. Apply the principles learned in the previous chapter, and have a couple of things assist you.
If you have been doing ok on networking, you should have and still be getting many business cards. If not, that’s something you need to fix. But what do you do with all these business cards? You file them into a Business Card Holder. You can organize the business cards by how well you know the person, or any way you want, but I recommend you to have some sort of organizing system to it. What’s also very important is when you get a new business card, you should write down when and how you met this person, as well as something unique about him/her. Have you ever looked at all your business cards and went “whoa, this person’s pretty cool! But who is he? How did I meet him? I would like to contact him but…?” If you record these simple information, when you do your biannually checkups (or something), you will know exactly who this person is, as well as something that you can mention about. People usually pay extra attention to you if they noticed you’ve been doing the same thing (like remembering their kids’ names).
So I have customized an Access database format called ContactBasic to help people keep contact of their connections. You can use other methods such as Microsoft Excel but I feel it does not have the functions that Microsoft Access has for keeping connection data. The nifty part of ContactBasic is that it not only can keep all the data of your contacts, it also organizes them in any manner you want as well as has an notepad file that is attached to each person, so you will be able to find out more about a person if you want. You can put in what the person likes, where he/she went to school, location and everything you can think of.
Something negative about using this database format is that you need to have Microsoft Access, something that not everyone has. The other negative but optional thing is that it takes awhile to put in all your contacts. However, you don’t need to put in everything you know, and if you are serious about networking, it’s usually worth it.
You could say a core value of RewardMe principles applies mostly for young people who are doing internships and what not, but it is actually applicable to all levels of people. In a work environment, too many people I see finish their work very fast, and start to slack off (do random things on the internet etc.).
The fact that one can finish his/her work fast means that the person is more capable than what he/she is assigned. Shouldn’t people know that? A guy finishes work fast and plays games, while another finishes the work a little slower, and asks for more work to complete. Who’s going to get promoted? Who’s going to get referred?
And yet you see so many people complaining about being in the same jobs and positions for a long time?
The important thing to know is that when you finish your assigned work, your “responsibilities”, that’s the default. Any one sitting in that seat could and should do it. Your credit starts where your responsibility ends. When you do extra, you jump out of the box of “Teller,” “Operating Director,” “VP Marketing,” and identify yourself with a name. That’s rather useful.
It’s the same with interacting with friends and associates too. If people around you all feel you are capable of doing many things well with good work ethics, then when an opportunity arises, you will be the person they think of.
Do more to prove that you deserve more.