Making Networking Time Profitable!
The South Jersey Business Association would like to thank our guest speaker from our meeting last week. Merle Margolese was an exceptional speaker. And for those that missed it, here are a few notes from our meeting:
Are You Getting a Good “Return” on Your Networking Time and Effort?
- Start Tracking Your Results! Do you know where your new business is coming from? Depending on your industry , over 50% of new business should come from repeat customers and referrals. If not you have to ask yourself “Why not?”
Evaluate Your Current Memberships
- Do I belong to multiple groups with the same members?
- Are my current members diversified?
Not Sure How To Make The Most Of What Fellow Members Have To Offer
- Learn about them as people, not just their PROFESSION!
Where Do I Start???
- What professions would be most useful to My clients, friends etc.?
- What Professions am I in need of now?
- What Professions would most likely “Mesh” with my business?
What Does A Successful Networker Say and Do?
- Mind your manners
- Be Prepared; business cards, professional name tag, appearance
- Quality over Quantity
- Be the “Connector” … “I Gotta Guy”
- Multiple 30 Second Commercials, customized to the group/event you are attending
How Often Should You Be Out Networking?
- You are always “on” and networking 100% of the time!
Those were just a few of the tips or “Merle’s Pearls” given to us at our last event. If you would like to know more about how you can become a better networking expert, contact Merle (856) 939-4450
Or attend one of our breakfast meetings. See you there!Read More
A Master Networker Shares His Top 20 Networking Tips
At one of Jon Levy’s house parties you could find yourself, as we recently did, making fajitas with Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Regina Spektor and leading snake venom expert Zoltan Takacs before watching live presentations from Bill Nye the Science Guy and break-dancing pioneer Richard “Crazy Legs” Colón.
Levy may not be a Wall Street billionaire or hotshot advertising executive, but over the past five years, he’s built the Influencers, a network of over 400 interesting and impressive people that includes everyone from Nobel laureates to Olympic athletes.
Twice a month, Levy holds private dinner parties and TED Talk-like “Salons” in the sprawling New York City apartment he inherited from his parents, who are successful artists now living in Israel. As an independent marketing consultant specializing in consumer behavior, a diverse, strong network is beneficial to his career. But beyond that, Levy has a genuine passion for connecting influential people from different fields and seeing what these relationships yield.
We asked Levy to share some of the tactics he used to go from a low-profile New Yorker to the leader of a growing network of power players. Here are his top networking tips.
1. Appreciate that the most influential people operate on a different level.
A Landmark Education seminar on personal success inspired Levy to start a network that became the Influencers. He says he left thinking about this quote: “The fundamental element that defines the quality of your life is the people you surround yourself with and the conversations you have with them.”
If you want to surround yourself with executives and successful entrepreneurs, you first need to understand and respect that the lives of high-demand people are fundamentally different from even most chronically busy people, Levy says. Their schedules are likely filled with travel plans and meetings, with scarce free time dedicated to family.
“Everybody’s coming to them for answers. Everybody’s asking them the same questions millions of times. You can begin to think about, ‘OK, what is something different that I could provide this person that would make it worth their time to speak with me or meet with me?'” Levy says.
2. Add value without expecting anything.
On that note, you should be thinking of how you can add value to a potential connection without expecting anything in return, at least immediately. Levy is a proponent of Wharton professor — and Influencers member — Adam Grant’s theory on “givers,” those who seek out opportunities to help people they respect and appreciate.
“If you’re a giver, then you build quality relationships, and with those relationships you’re exposed to opportunity over the long term,” Grant told Business Insider last year. “You actually increase your own luck so far as you contribute things to other people.
3. Create memories.
Rahzel, former member of The Roots and beatboxing legend, joined the Influencers about a year ago and says that he’s amazed by Levy’s memory. “Jon can pinpoint people and the places and exact time he met them,” he says.
Levy says he’s boosted his memory with a simple trick. “For the most part our memory is visual, and it works based on novelty for something to really stick out,” he says. “If there’s somebody I meet that I really want to connect with, I try to create a moment that’s memorable and that can serve as tradition.”
This can mean sharing a special toast or asking a question that will elicit a unique response. For example, Levy met a Tinder exec recently and asked her about the first thing most people ask her. She said men who use the dating app often nervously ask if Tinder employees can read guys’ messages to other users. “Now I’ll never forget her!” he says.
4. Make your introductions more interesting.
Most people just aren’t interesting in the way they communicate, Levy says. He thinks that Americans, especially, apply their efficient approach at work to how they meet people, talking in boring, direct ways about themselves.
“When people ask me what I do, I try to be a little elusive just to create some interest. So I tell people I spend most of my life trying to convince people to cook me dinner. Which is true,” he says, laughing. “A lot of my time is really spent around logistics, phone calls, and emails and all that. But the benefit of [my introduction] is that it sounds so different and then it’s much easier to connect.”
You may be better off delaying the job-talk for as long as possible. Levy has his dinner guests spend the majority of the evening refraining from discussing any aspect of their occupation, and encourages Salon guests to do the same, so that they can get to know each other personally.
New Yorker writer and author Maria Konnikova found this endearing when she attended one of Levy’s dinners and Salons. “At the Salon, you’re just enjoying the evening and figuring out which people you actually like, regardless of whether they can be helpful to you,” she says.
5. Use the double opt-in system to introduce people to each other.
In keeping with being a “giver,” you should always be aware of which of your connections could be interested in meeting each other, and email is the easiest way to do so remotely.
Levy is comfortable connecting his closest friends through an email addressed to both of them, but he’ll use what Grant calls the “double opt-in” system for the busiest people in his network. If there’s a chance that the busier connection simply doesn’t have the time or desire to speak with the other person, a private email to both parties asking if they’d like to connect allows you to screen refusals without hurting anyone’s feelings.
And as Grant explains in an “Art of Charm” podcast, introduce people because you think they can add value to each other, not just because they happen to live in the same city.
6. Befriend gatekeepers.
You’ll find that many of the world’s busiest people have assistants taking care of their emails, phone calls, and schedules. If that’s the case, it’s in your best interest to be on cordial terms with them if you’re looking to connect with their boss.
“If you can make friends with [the gatekeepers], you will be on their schedule,” Levy says.
He says that once he’s met someone in person and gotten their personal contact information, he’ll first try them directly the next time he wants to reach out. And if they don’t respond, he’ll try again with their assistant looped in.
“There’s no ego involved,” he says. Don’t feel slighted if you have to go through an assistant even after you’ve met someone. Whatever works for their schedule will work for you.
7. Make cold calls.
To get in touch with influential people, you can’t be afraid of reaching out without precedent.
Levy recommends getting in touch with an executive sometime before 8 a.m. because it’s likely that they’re in their office but that their assistant isn’t. If you’re able to get access to their number, give them a call before their day becomes too hectic. There are databases like Who Represents that you can subscribe to that include the contact information of high-demand people and their gatekeepers.
And if you don’t want to use a database, you can try a free trick that Levy uses. Get just a single person’s email address from the company your target works for to determine the format (e.g. my email is email@example.com so it makes sense that my colleague Drake Baer’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org). This sneaky tactic is actually how Levy recently got in touch with a Sony senior vice president.
Make sure, however, that if you’re reaching out you’ve actually got something of genuine value to share, as mentioned above.
8. Write emails that will get replies.
Sending an introductory email to someone is low-risk because the worst-case scenario is that your message gets tossed and your name forgotten. But you can significantly increase the chance that your email will get a reply if you follow these tips, Levy says:
Don’t be a salesman. “I don’t try to convince them of anything in my message,” Levy says. “It’s not, ‘Oh, I think it would be really good to do this because of X, Y, and Z.’ [It’s] ‘This is what I do… I think what you’re doing is fascinating, and I’d like to sit down with you and talk about what you’re up to.'”
Keep it as short as possible. You’ll want to have the recipient take a look at your message and be able to give an adequate response, even if it takes them 30 seconds on their smartphone. When Levy emails a high-demand person like a celebrity, he keeps his email down to a single sentence that cuts out any trace of filler. If he emails an executive, who make decisions based on available information, he’ll limit his message to three to five sentences and include some links they can click if they’d like to learn more about him and the Influencers.
Offer a clear next step. If your recipient is interested in you, let them know how you’d like to take things forward by asking a question or extending an invite they can email reply to.
Entice them with your subject lines. If you’re being referred by someone in their inner circle, mention their name in the subject. Levy likes the subject line “Quick Question” because it signals to the reader that they can open the email and remain on a path to a cleaner inbox.
9. Follow up.
Be sure to send a quick follow-up email either later in the day or the next day after meeting someone for coffee or lunch. It’s proper etiquette that will keep you from looking like you’re selfishly using the other person.
10. Organize your contacts.
If you’re looking to build a network on the scale of Levy’s, you could benefit from some simple organization.
Levy uses Google docs like a traditional phone book, but with contacts arranged by industry and ranked by the likelihood that they’ll do business together. He keeps separate lists for those in his Influencers community, potential members he’s reached out to, and those he’s interested in eventually connecting with.
11. Create a diverse network of givers.
Who should you be adding to your network in the first place? Generous people from a wide variety of industries, Levy says. Prioritize personality over perceived “usefulness.”
“It’s adding diversity to your network that truly helps it. The reason is, every time you add an additional person that’s in your industry, you’re not expanding your network very much because you all probably know the same people,” he says.
For example, Levy became friends with the founder of Wizard World Comicon, Gareb Shamus, someone completely unrelated to Levy’s industry. “Nobody would think that investing in that relationship makes any sense! He’s a wonderful guy, and one of the most generous people I’ve had the pleasure to know,” he says.
12. Stay away from drama.
“I’m in full support of providing value and helping people who are struggling, but I fundamentally will not allow my network to be exposed to people who are negative and have the potential to bring them down. It’s insidious, and it spreads through the network very quickly,” Levy says.
13. Don’t be afraid of making a fool of yourself.
If you’re serious about making a name for yourself, you’ll need to be willing to embarrass yourself in front of powerful people.
Speaking about himself, Levy says, “I think the only people who would probably embarrass themselves more over time are people who are far, far, far more successful. Like the [Richard] Bransons of the world.”
There are going to be times when you’re not going to appear as funny or impressive as you’d like, but as with anything else, you should make note of how your social interactions failed and improve the next time.
Levy actually plays with the way he tells stories and introduces himself either in person or over email to see how people react, and then adjusts accordingly.
14. Don’t impose yourself on others.
“One of the fundamental mistakes I made at the beginning was thinking that people enjoyed all the things I liked,” Levy says.
He would take an “older sibling” approach and try to get his introverted connections to behave like him, an extrovert. For example, if he tried to get a shy person to retell a story he enjoyed in front of a large crowd, he ended up putting that person into an incredibly uncomfortable situation.
Whether you’re introducing people or hosting them at an event, you should always be aware that it’s not your job to get people to behave a certain way.
15. Understand that not everyone will like you, and that’s OK.
“At a certain point, I realized that there’s a percentage of the population that no matter what you do or say, they’re just not going to like you, and it’s beyond your control,” Levy says.
“That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on yourself and develop yourself and learn to make people more comfortable, but at a certain point it’s like, what are you trying to accomplish?”
If it turns out that a coworker or even a childhood hero of yours doesn’t like your personality even when you’re at your best, then simply move on and spend time with someone else.
16. Have a topic prepared to start a conversation.
Everyone’s been in a situation where you’re stuck with a stranger and neither of you has anything to say. So instead of talking about the weather or your commute, says Levy, “I always have a story of something I’ve been doing recently or a book that I’ve been reading.”
“Otherwise I hate the ‘interview’ setting, which is what happens when it’s like, ‘So what do you do? I do this. What do you do?’ That’s sharing facts, not insights. It’s not connecting,” he says.
17. Tell a story that is clear and compelling.
When you tell a story, make sure it has a clear point and a punchline, whether it’s a takeaway or a joke. You should strive to be memorable when you’re meeting new people, and the best way to do so is through good storytelling.
18. End conversations gracefully.
“I used to be absolutely awful, really awkward, at ending conversations,” Levy says, laughing. “The last moments of a conversation will define how people remember you, so you want to get really good at a solid ending,” instead of being rudely (or strangely) abrupt.
Over the phone, wait for a lull in the conversation and then give an indication that you need to be excused for something else or are happy with how the conversation went. Tell them it was a pleasure speaking with them and that you’ll make sure to follow up on certain points.
In person, Levy says he always takes an extra beat to make eye contact with the person he’s finished speaking with so that it doesn’t seem as if he’s running away.
19. Keep meetings brief.
There’s no need to let an introductory meeting with a new connection last longer than 45 minutes, Levy says. And if you’re grabbing coffee or lunch, the ideal is probably a half hour.
“It’s better to leave the conversation having something to talk about and feeling like you need to connect again rather than feeling that the energy’s died,” Levy says.
20. Be open. People are ultimately unpredictable.
You can’t be uptight if you’re looking to become a great networker. Do what you can to connect with people who are interesting, and don’t waste time with those who don’t mesh with your personality.
“One of the fundamental issues that we face as people is we are acutely aware of the things we tell ourselves to be aware of and then are aware of virtually nothing else,” Levy says. “So we tend to overvalue specific people or experiences. And when you realize the diversity of exceptional human beings out there and opportunities and business deals and everything, you’re going to realize there are a lot more options than you’re giving credit to.”
Faloni Richard (2015 January) A Master Networker Shares His Top 20 Networking Tips Retrieved on June 26, 2015 from Business InsiderRead More
Networking Made Easy: 8 Conversation Starters For Those Who Don’t Know Where To Start
Done right, networking can be the silver bullet for building your profile, gaining new business opportunities and building your career. But what happens when you show up to an event and just can’t find ways to engage with others?
The secret to successful, strategic networking is to go alone.
For those who are hesitant to approach people on their own and strike up a conversation, taking someone along for support can in fact be a hindrance as you will likely use the event as a catch up.
Likewise, networking isn’t about talking to a tonne of people, it is about listening. The most effective networkers are those people who take the time to delve deeper into relationships and find out if there is synergy and opportunity to build a lasting bond.
Networking is about surrounding yourself with a support network for business and life in general. Just turning up isn’t enough, you need to be engaged and ready to mingle.
To help you prepare, here are my top eight conversation starters which will give you that all important starting point to building your business network.
1. Simply say hello
Don’t over think it. It can be as easy as: “Hello, I’m [name], what’s your business (or what do you do)?”
2. Turn to the news and the top headlines of the day
News is always a good topic of conversation so pick a few of the top headlines from the day and ask, “I heard/read about [insert news item] on the way here today. What do you think about it?”
3. Compliments go a long way
Who doesn’t love a compliment? It’s fairly easy to find something you like about another person, whether it’s their outfit, shoes, tie, handbag or a book you see poking out of their briefcase – this something is another great conversation starter.
4. Ask for their advice
Equally, people love being asked for their expert advice! Take note of the organisations on everyone’s name tags and start a conversation with someone whose industry you can ask a question about easily.
For example, if you identify someone in training and professional development, “I work in HR for a superannuation company and we use personality testing as part of our recruitment process. Do you have different training methods for different personalities in your workforce?”
5. Tasteful humour
If you’re comfortable as the funny guy or girl why not break the ice with a joke? Try something along the lines of, “Can you believe they let me in here dressed like this?” or “I always come to these things for the cute triangle sandwiches. What about you?”
6. Discuss the event
A big event like a conference can be overwhelming, but an easy way to meet new people is to chat about the program, a speaker you like or the event facilities. A great way to get this conversation started is to ask, “My head is overloaded with great information from today; what gem has resonated with you?”
7. Add to a conversation
Numbers can provide safety, so if you see a group of people chatting and you think you’d prefer the buffer of more than one person, add to their conversation by mentioning an example to illustrate the speaker’s point, or throw in a comment about something relevant that you read earlier that day and then introduce yourself.
8. Look for people by themselves and say hi
If you see someone on their own, think of it as the perfect opportunity to say “hi”, ask them how they are and introduce yourself. It can be as easy as that.
Business networking is the single most effective way to build your personal brand and grow your business. Now you have the key to breaking the ice when it comes to conversations – get out there and start building your connections!
About the author
Catriona Pollard is the author of From Unknown To Expert, a step by step framework designed to help entrepreneurs develop effective PR and social media strategies to become recognised as influencers in their field. www.unknowntoexpert.com
Catriona is also the director of CP Communications, which merges traditional PR tactics with cutting-edge social media strategies that engage consumers as well as business. www.cpcommunications.com.auRead More
Three Mistakes to Avoid When Networking
We all know networking has the potential to dramatically enhance our careers; making new connections can introduce us to valuable new information, job opportunities, and more. But despite that fact, many of us are doing it wrong — and I don’t just mean the banal error of trading business cards at a corporate function and not following up properly. Many executives, even when they desperately want to cultivate a new contact, aren’t sure how to get noticed and make the right impression.
I’ve certainly been there. Years ago, I was a speaker at a tech conference — as was a bestselling author. By chance, we met in the speakers lounge and, massively unprepared, I fell back on platitudes. It’s great to meet you! I love your work! I handed him my card. If you’re ever in Boston, it’d be a pleasure to meet up! He hasn’t called, and frankly, I’m not surprised.
We’re all busy, but it’s hard to imagine the volume of requests that well-known leaders receive. Reputation.com founder and fellow HBR blogger Michael Fertik told me he receives anywhere from 500-1000 emails per day, and describes it as “a huge tax on my life.” Wharton professor Adam Grant, who was profiled by the New York Times for his mensch-like habit of doing almost anyone a “five minute favor” was rewarded for his generosity by being inundated with 3500 emails from strangers hitting him up. “I underestimated how many people read the New York Times,” he jokes.
Grant does get back to the people who write him — he even had to hire an assistant to help — but most people at the top don’t have the time management skills (or the desire) to pull that off. If you want to network successfully with high-level professionals, you have to inspire them to want to connect with you. Through hard-won experience, I’ve learned some of the key mistakes aspiring networkers make in their quest to build relationships, and how to avoid them.
Misunderstanding the pecking order. The “rules” for networking with peers are pretty straightforward: follow up promptly, connect with them on LinkedIn, offer to buy them coffee or lunch. I’ve had great success with this when reaching out to people I had an equal connection to: we’re both bloggers for the same publication, or serve on a charity committee together, for example. People want to congregate with their peers to trade ideas and experiences; your similarity alone is enough reason for them to want to meet you.
But the harsh truth is those rules don’t work for people who are above you in status. The bestselling author at the tech conference had no idea who I was, and no reason to. My book hadn’t yet been released, and his had sold hundreds of thousands of copies; he was keynoting the entire conference, and I was running a much smaller concurrent session. We make mistakes when we fail to grasp the power dynamics of a situation. It would be nice if Richard Branson or Bill Gates wanted to hang out with me “just because,” but that’s unlikely. If I’m going to connect with someone far better known than I am, I need to give them a very good reason.
Asking to receive before you give. You may have plenty of time to have coffee with strangers or offer them advice. Someone who receives 1000 emails a day does not. Asking for their time, in and of itself, is an imposition unless you can offer them some benefit upfront. Canadian social media consultant Debbie Horovitch managed to build relationships with business celebrities like Guy Kawasaki and Mike Michalowicz by inviting them to be interviewed for her series of Google+ Hangouts focused on how to become a business author. Instead of asking them for “an hour of their time” to get advice on writing a book, she exposed them to a broader audience and created content that’s permanently available online.
Failing to specifically state your value proposition. Top professionals don’t have time to weed through all the requests they get to figure out which are dross and which are gold. You have to be very explicit, very quickly, about how you can help. My incredibly weak “Let’s meet up in Boston!” isn’t going to cut it. Instead, you need to show you’re familiar with the person’s work and have thought carefully about how you can help them, not the other way around. Tim Ferriss of The 4-Hour Workweek fame blogs about how his former intern Charlie Hoehn won him over with a detailed pitch, including Charlie’s self-created job description touting his ability to help create a promotional video for Ferriss and an online “micro-network” for fans of his books.
Networking is possibly the most valuable professional activity we can undertake. But too often, we’re inadvertently sabotaging our own best efforts by misreading power dynamics, failing to give first, and not making our value proposition clear. Fixing those crucial flaws can help us connect with the people we want and need to meet to develop our careers.
Clark Dori (2014 February) Three Mistakes to Avoid When Networking. Retrieved on June 26, 2015 from Harvard Business ReviewRead More