Tag Archives: networking

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business connections

Business Connections Mean Little, or Everything

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One hundred years ago when you wanted to telephone someone it wasn’t as easy. Today it is different. Do you believe that you have good business connections? What is the value?

In the early 1900’s it seems that business networking really wasn’t a thing. Commerce was very localized. You had stores and markets in town, and you typically wouldn’t travel far to get essentials.

Certainly, there were gatherings at public events, county fairs, and perhaps a traveling circus. Train stations were still serving many expanding cities and towns.

Instead of waiting a few seconds, a minute, or an hour, for some electronic mail, people waited days, weeks, or longer for a hand written letter from an acquaintance far away.

The perception of the world was likely smaller, or maybe larger. Your people network wasn’t as vast, and for most purposes, outside of a few close neighbors or friends, a network would have probably seemed unnecessary.

Business Connections

It is different today. Business is moving faster and faster. Quality and efficiency still matter but patience often seems lost.

Expectations are driven by speed and complimented through convenience.

What is quick, easy, and affordable seems to hold higher interest when compared with waiting, of substantial quality, and worth every penny.

People amass hundreds of social media connections, some attain thousands, and some hundreds of thousands or more.

Commerce happens. It is often about your network.

Need a job? Who do you know?

Need a roof repair, a lawn mower fixed, or a custom-built cabinet? Who do you know?

If you don’t know anyone, you search the internet.

Your choices are greater and the options feel riskier.

Everything seems bigger now.

Word of mouth has transformed to World of mouth. What happens in Tennessee is known about in California and Vermont in seconds.

Lost in the Hustle

You can also easily get lost.

Perhaps you shout but no one hears you. You create a website, or a social media group or page, and everyone can find you, or no one does.

One hundred years ago businesses had a connection. It happened through people.

Today, a lot has changed, only nothing has changed.

If you are doing business, your connections still matter the most.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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building connections

Building Connections Is More Than a Tactic

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Are you building connections? Friending someone on Facebook is a connection, yet it is does not ensure a human relationship. Who makes up your network and why?

People Connections

People attend business breakfast meetings, luncheons, and evening mixers. What is their reason or motive? In part, it may be to build relationships.

Why do people come away from the conference or convention feeling motivated and pumped up? It probably has something to do with the connections made or relationships built.

What inspires or motivates people in your workplace? It probably has something to do with the people, the environment, and the culture.

Building Connections

On-line or in-person people are often seeking a community. Communities of like interests, hobbies, or professions. People who have something to give, share, or gain from the interaction. It doesn’t make them fake. It makes them real.

The statement often is, “Everyone is in sales.”

Yes, it is true. We’re all probably selling something. Sometimes, more often than we realize, we are selling ourselves. That doesn’t mean a forced activity, it means building relationships.

Connection is more strategy than it is tactic. The tactical approach may be the literal part of a technological connection. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or many others. Friends, followers, and social networks. Your connection count is a tactic.

Think more strategic and less tactically.

In order to connect, you have to find other people. You have to arrive, engage, and take risks. You have to look for the opportunity in misfortune, adverse conditions, and economic challenges. Celebrate wins, good fortune, and growth.

Building connections are part of the strategy for growth.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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introductions

The Failure of Introductions Around the Room

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Honestly, I always thought it was silly and a waste of time. It may be okay for a very small group to get better acquainted. However, in settings of more than a few it is probably a failure. How are introductions managed in your meetings?

Does the meeting host or leader, “Go around the room?”

Why do some trainers or meeting facilitators do this? Why do they waste valuable time passing the baton from person to person?

The answer is often easy. They haven’t prepared and it is a great way to spend some time (wasting time) putting the burden on the participants.

Introductions

About eight years ago I was delivering a workshop at a university. The participants were all employees. Certainly not everyone knew everyone.

After about 45-minutes of the seminar I opened for some questions. A faculty member quickly jumped in and said, “I don’t know everyone here. Can we spend a few minutes and go around the room?”

I had another more recent case. In this case I was working for a university (on behalf of) and on a break my university contact asked me, “Who is in the room?”

I replied with, “I’m not sure, who signed up?” Keeping in mind that there were more than thirty participants in this session.

The next question was, “You didn’t go around the room with introductions?”

And so, it continues. It isn’t just in academia, it happens in other sectors too.

What’s the Failure?

One of the biggest fails is the idea that most meeting hosts do this in-part to fill a scheduled time-slot. The pressure is off them to deliver while everyone is going around the room.

Another failure is, who is really listening? As the baton gets closer to you, you are planning what you’ll say. Depending on seating you may not be able to clearly see everyone, so you just hear a voice, or people rubbernecking around the room. Awkward.

Some better ideas? Prepare in advance. Publish a list with biographical sketches, use name tags, or tents. Insist on networking. Point out a few honorable mentions. If you want them to share something tell them you’ll be pointing them out in advance.

Want to know the quickest way to waste twenty-five minutes? Ask a group of thirty plus participants to, “Go around the room.” It may be more productive to give an extra fifteen-minute break and suggest more networking.

If you’re the facilitator, prepare, and use your time wisely. Deliver value, not a silly exercise that stalls the real work to be done.

-DEG

AFTER THOUGHTS: I’ve received some push back on this post. I knew it would be controversial before I hit the Publish button. Yes, there may be an appropriate time and setting to go around the room for introductions. I have done it in certain circumstances or situations. Largely though, as a professional in the field, my opinion is that this more ineffective rather than effective. If a goal is to have people get to know each other, an activity specifically geared towards accomplishing that would be better. And yes, knowing your audience is very important but to the extent possible that should be known in advance, not in the moment. The reason for my writing this post is that I see this too often being used as a crutch by the unprepared. It takes the professional out of professionalism. Then, all that remains is an ism.

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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career story

How Are You Creating Your Career Story?

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Everyone has a story, right? What is your story? I hear a lot of stories about doom and gloom. I hear a lot of embellished stories, and stories that may not even be real. What is your career story?

Career Story

If you aren’t happy with your story, the good news is that you can change it. It really doesn’t matter if you’re early in your career, mid-career, or even in the sunset. Your career is about your story.

We have stories all around us. There are biblical stories, stories of the land before time, and stories about developing nations, economies, and intellect. Your career is not about a single moment. It’s built across time.

If you don’t like how your story is starting you can change it. If you don’t like the flow, or the emerging ending, you can change it.

Sometimes the biggest hurdle is understanding your career is not a job. It is not a place, a city, a town, or an industry sector. It is something you’re building.

Seeking Change

If you feel that you need to do something different, don’t wait. You’re going to have to get involved. Make changes, grow your network, find more moments that build your story.

It may begin with what you’re telling yourself. Have you assessed your competencies? Do you need new skills, retraining, or updating? Perhaps.

Keep in mind however, that many people get the opportunity of a lifetime in an area that they aren’t so skilled. And now you’re asking, “How?”

The answer is easy, they have some boxes checked, but they are using their relationships (networking) to create the next opportunity.

What is your next moment? What if you look for the next part of your story, instead of a job. Invest in doing something that feels natural, feels good, and creates connection?

It’s time to build more of your story. People are waiting to hear it.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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right group appreciative strategies

Join the Right Group, You’re The Product of Your Crowd

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Many people are interested to make some positive changes. Advance their career, learn more, and even earn more. If we are the product of the people we hang around, joining the right group might be important.

There are plenty of snake oil salespeople out there. There are thousands and thousands of people pushing a theory about how to get rich quick, what to say to your boss, or how to develop your career. You might be connected to some of them.

Some of them provide opportunities. Join their group, get involved, and grow. The best of the groups offer positive impact, promote positive actions, and are well founded by people who have the background and experience to create real impact. They walk their talk.

Others might be pushing snake oil, the quick fix, the how to tell off your boss, and how to quit your job today and become rich. They might suggest those who don’t succeed don’t take enough risk, don’t work hard enough, and give up too easily.

There might be some truth in both groups and both crowds. It is tempting to follow our emotions and sometimes those choices are okay, other times a disaster. The hardest part is making the right choice on which group you’ll join.

Groups In Action

I recently attended a networking event. My standard practice is to be sure to meet some new people. It’s a networking event, not a reunion. So I networked and met a few people, most of them great.

I met some others too, watched them work the room, tell their stories, and attempt to sell their oil.

Figuratively speaking, I’m not sure if anyone made a purchase, but certainly, some listened intently. The artisans dropped names, dropped buzzwords, and smiled a lot.

Two people in particular caught my eye. We met. Both told stories. They spoke of high impact success; name dropped, and provided some of their oily theories.

Our conversation was effective for them until I asked a few questions. Then the mood changed, the posture shifted and they made a fast exit.

Right Group

There are plenty of people selling anyone something. Be cautious of the quick fix, the attraction to the fast track and easy street. Telling off the boss and walking off the job is probably never a good idea.

Ask questions and keep this in mind, sometimes it is the answers to the questions that should be questioned.

Join the right group.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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conference networking

Conference Networking, What Is Your Strategy?

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Today I’m speaking in Grapevine, Texas for the National Association of Credit Management. Much of the article below originally appeared as an article I wrote for Business Credit, the February 2017 issue. Are you skilled at Conference Networking? What is your strategy?

Another conference or business meeting, you arrive, you go to the registration table, and wait patiently for your turn to watch the check-in person search for your name tag. You get a lanyard, maybe a sticker or two, some program materials, and a bag to carry your stuff around for the next few days. You have arrived.

What you do next will determine the amount of success you achieve from this event. Certainly you’ll intend to learn something, have some food, and meet a few people, but have you considered identifying specific goals? Have you mapped out what sessions you’ll attend, what you want to learn more about, or how many people you want to add to your network?

Have you thought about your social prowess, how you’ll connect and engage with people you might already know and especially how you’ll approach meeting someone new?

Some people argue that our society is becoming less social. They argue that the younger generations are more connected to their telephones or technology than actually building personal or professional relationships. What do you think?

I believe our definition of social is changing, I believe the depth and understanding of our professional relationships are changing, and I definitely believe that some people are taking full advantage of the opportunities presented by this changing environment and others are watching from the sidelines still trying to sort through what will become their next move.

I believe you have to get strategic.

Conference Networking

Conferences and other live face-to-face events represent a wonderful opportunity to grow your network, but you probably won’t achieve much growth by only watching.

Let’s start at the beginning, what are your goals for the event? Yes, goals, I’m sure you’ve probably heard the meme, “what gets measured, gets done.” If you’re going to make the most of this opportunity you’re going to need a few goals, and you’re going to have to consider both strategy and tactics to accomplish them.

Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Number of new people to meet. You probably should have a number in mind. This can be as simple as two or three, or many multiples of that number. If you are going to be at an event for multiple days it probably is a good idea to have a daily goal.
  2. Strengthening relationships with past acquaintances. Whether you are a first timer at this event, or coming back for your fifth consecutive year it might be valuable to circle back to someone you’ve met in the past. This also applies to people who you might occasionally connect with on social media, through email, or by telephone, but often lack the opportunity for the face-to-face.
  3. Who can you help? While this might seem shocking, your intentions should include a focus on whom you can help. Too often people are only interested in meeting someone who can do something for them, and are not often considering what they can do for others. Make sure at least part, if not all of your outreach has an element of what you can do to help someone else. Your network will live, or not, by the principles connected with reciprocity.
  4. Leveraging opportunities. Most conferences have built-in social time. This might be centered on breaks between sessions, meals, or other scheduled activities. Don’t miss opportunities to choose a session seat near someone you don’t know, greet someone in the lobby or conference hallway, and choose areas to be present that will allow more opportunities.
  5. What is your message or elevator speech? Make sure you have a short; one to three sentence introduction and that you are prepared to use it. However, your best success will not come from your interest to tell someone else what you do. It will come from being very interested in what they do.

Get prepared to cover the basics and then take things to the next level. The basics would include wearing your name badge, keeping your head up, smiling, being interested and inviting, carrying business cards and using them, asking for business cards from others, and suggesting the idea of continuing your connection on social media channels.

Social Media Connections

Depending on your profession and how you use social media platforms you’ll find some people who are very shy and reserved about Facebook, it might be too personal. Twitter is a great platform for high activity social media users, but your best professional platform is probably going to be LinkedIn.

Allow me to provide a brief word about LinkedIn. LinkedIn is not a platform built just for job seekers. Sure there is an element of LinkedIn that supports that, but think of LinkedIn more like Facebook for professional connections. It is not Facebook and you shouldn’t be posting pictures of your vacation, your children or grandchildren, or your favorite pet, unless of course your business has a direct connection to these events or activities. Make sure you have a profile picture (one that actually looks like you), and that you have a reasonable amount of your profile completed.

Bridging Generations

Depending on the event you may be with many professionals of a similar age, in other cases it may be very diverse. Don’t let generational stereotypes, bias, or judgments negatively influence your ability to be effective with your outreach.

One of the stereotypes is that those persons representing the most recent generations are more into their smartphone and Snapchat than they are about meeting new people in person. Even if this stereotype seems true to you it could be all the more reason to make that outreach.

So often people become focused on generational differences when what they should be considering is generational commonalities. Your attendance at a conference is one of your best chances to increase and improve your network. Since your conference is most likely a live face-to-face event, use this opportunity to connect real-time. There are many things that all generations have in common; in this case the commonality is a focus on building and improving your network and relationships.

After the Conference

You’re not finished. You’ve survived, you’re excited, and your return trip gave you a few much needed minutes to unwind and digest some of the great content, strengthened relationships, and new found friends. Now what?

If you haven’t already done so, grab all of your business cards and make sure they make it into your contact management software, make the time to look up each and every one of them on LinkedIn or other channels, send personalized invitations to connect and follow up on any promises you made. If you suggested you would send them a link, do it, if you offered some additional information, send it, or if you suggested a follow-up telephone call schedule it.

You’ve made the investment, use a few minutes immediately following the event to collect your thoughts, debrief (yourself or others), and be sure you tie up any loose ends.

Make it Strategic

Practice makes perfect, but many professionals will only get to one or two major conferences per year. If this is you, you’re going to have to be sure that you are strategic in your approach. It’s far too easy to arrive at a conference, go through some of the motions, hit a few breakout sessions and exchange a business card or two from some chance encounter that you simply stumbled upon. Then you return home with only the memory of the person on the airplane who occupied half of your coach class seat, the speaker who made you laugh or cry, and the quality of the food in the buffet line.

You and your network are worth more than that.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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