What have I learned?

My book, The Power of Everyday Networking, has been available for about two years now, and Networking Know-How is about to celebrate a year of daily tips and tools.

What a busy and exciting time it has been–personally and professionally. Via webinars the book has taken me from Cambridge, MA, to around the world.  Via the airlines from Colorado Springs, (where I asked about, was referred to, and was then able to practice yoga poses at 13,000 feet with the help of a wonderful instructor) to Charlotte, NC, and Melbourne, Australia, where I gave a series of presentations and worked with clients on the concepts and practice of everyday networking, its impacts on career advancement, leadership development, business and client development, and our daily professional lives. Whew!

All of these experiences are the outcome of networking. (Even the mountaintop yoga–a fabulous experience for someone who could barely touch her toes, let alone do a mountain tree pose, 5 years ago–happened because I asked the van driver a simple question: “Does anyone on your staff practice yoga?” and, guess what, one of their new employees was a yogi, which no one was aware of until I asked and the driver said, “Let me find out.”

I feel lucky, blessed, and fortunate. The last two years continue to teach me that every time I’m with someone (be it one person or 100), I learn something. That is the beauty of having an everyday attitude about networking and approach to work and life.  Next week’s tips will offer a few lessons I am taking to heart as I continue to speak about the Power of Everyday Networking. And I would love to know: what have you learned about networking authentically?

Meetings, meetings, meetings

Meetings, meetings, meetings

We all know how you get to Carnegie Hall–practice, practice, practice–and the results are certainly rewarding. But what are the rewards for spending your time in workplace meetings, meetings, meetings? Late September/early October’s daily tips gave you protocols and best practices for making your and others’ attendance at meetings more effective and efficient. Here are a few more tips and things to think about, whether you meet around a table in a conference room or across the globe via Skype, iPhone or sharing Google docs.

Using time wisely.  Most ineffective meetings are caused by poor preparation, lack of listening, drifting off the subject, lack of participation and length. Effective meetings happen when everyone in the room has a valid reason for being there; knows the purpose and either had a role in setting agenda based on the purpose of the meeting or was sent an agendas prior to showing up (and with enough time to prepare). The meeting has a clear start and end time and sticks to the agenda. The leader “checks in” to be sure everyone is “on board” and not “bored.” Sometimes if the meeting is getting off track or voices raised too high a brief stop the action and a “restroom” break (strictly adhered to 5-7 minute time frame) can give people the opportunity to talk 1-1 or check in with their other obligations that might be causing them to drift.

Next week’s dailies share a few more success tips for meetings.

What is your networking future?

Networking is a forward-looking concept.  The person you meet today may be someone who can help you (or you help them) tomorrow, next year, and or in the next decade.  But how do you meet these people over the course of your career, or even over the next 12 months?  Here are some questions to help you set a course for both the short and long terms.

Do you understand in what direction you want to move your career, both within your organization and outside in your professional pursuits and interests? Are you looking to get more involved in a major work project? Changing roles? Jobs? Join or become active in an outside activity?  As the Cheshire Cat told Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you are going…..”

Have you created a positive image or picture in your mind of what you see yourself accomplishing over the next year? Is that picture full of possibilities as well as probabilities?  I cannot say it enough: Networking starts with attitude, attitude, attitude—what you think is what you speak.  As you develop that picture, who is in it—positive, pro-active and can-do people?

Did you take that image/picture and use it to develop and list specific outcomes/goals, plans, and action steps that will help you (and those you reach out to) move you in the direction of achieving them?

What’s on your nightstand or iPad?

If there’s anything I love more than getting a suggestion for a great read from a friend or colleague, it’s sharing good books with others. That’s why Networking Know-How has offered a monthly book suggestion almost since the beginning. Please send me the titles of books you’ve found that will help others build their work-lives and networks.

Here are the titles we’ve suggested. Each offers insights into ways to improve and manage your work life–happy reading!

The First 90 Days (Michael Watkins)

Influence without Authority (Alan R. Cohen)

Rebooting Work: Transform How You Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship (Maynard Webb)

Being the Boss (Linda Hill)

 Increase your Influence at Work (Perry McIntosh and Richard Luecke)

How to Work A Room ( Susan RoAne)

Give and Take, A Revolutionary Approach to Success (Adam Grant)

Perfect Phrases for Professional Networking: Hundreds of Ready-to-Use Phrases for Meeting and Keeping Helpful Contacts–Everywhere You Go (Susan Benjamin)

The 7 Powers of Questions: Secrets to Successful Communication in Life and Work (Dorothy Leeds)

 Earning Serendipity (Glen Llopis)

And of course, The Power of Everyday Networking (Patti Hunt Dirlam)


The Telephone: Text or talk?

Does a text get more done in less time?  Does it ease the frustration of multiple back-and-forths, does it reduce misunderstandings? Does it increase opportunities to build trust and productivity? It is harder and harder to get someone’s full attention in today’s workplace and we often confuse communicating efficiently  (140 characters) with communicating effectively—a face-to-face meeting (click to see the 10/7 daily in the Archive) or a well-planned-out telephone call (see 8/27 tip) .

Over the summer I wrote several daily tips (including 7/25 and 7/26) on how to make a professional and productive telephone call during a job search.  Well, remember your smart phone is also a “smart” networking tool to get real work done in real time.  Here are three points to consider when wondering whether to text or talk:

  1. The tone, inflection and hearing the speed of someone’s voice conveys feelings and interest more than any written text can do.
  2. A phone call (when done in a business-like and friendly voice) helps show competence and credibility by confidently, caringly (and yes, crisply) identifying and clarifying the relevant info, discussing and analyzing a wide range of ideas, staying focused on and solving the right problems, making timely decisions and gaining cooperation and agreement for the action required and follow up steps to be taken when the call is completed.
  3. Using the telephone is a management tool not a technique. To make it work effectively and efficiently, most of us have to have the patience to learn and be willing to practice and sharpen this important skill.
  4. Texting is great for confirming information and appointments, or for asking “quick questions.”

Company Meetings: Opportunity or Time Waster

Meetings come in all types and sizes:

  • Routine: company-wide and staff meetings;
  • Back to back: department, product or administrative meetings;
  • Impromptu: in the hallway (or elevator) “while I have you for a moment” meetings;
  • Business: client meetings, professional development meetings, and
  • Breaking the bread: breakfast, luncheon, coffee and after-hours meetings.

Yes they are all opportunities to build and strengthen relationships, but unless managed properly, they can become a major time waster for all!

Recent research shows many managers spend as much as 25-30% of their time  (up to 5 months a year) planning, leading and participating in meetings and most feel it is a waste of time.  The thinking is:  “I could be working on something else rather than just sitting here.”

So how can you improve your attitude and the outcomes of any meeting? There are three major components to an effective meeting:

  • The content: the knowledge opinions, attitudes and expectations participants bring to the meeting.
  • The interaction: the way attendees work together in the meeting; and
  • The structure: how the meeting is organized.

Next week’s NKH tips will look at each in more detail; providing subscribers with specific can dos to make your workplace meetings more efficient and effective!

Tips to improve your reputation as a good listener

You’ve asked a question—now give the person a chance to answer it! How?

Concentrate on what the person is saying: listen to his or her choice of words. Are they friendly? Unsure? Negative? Confirming?

Watch the non-verbal messages. Ask yourself: Where is his/her response leading?

Listening sends the message that you care about them and that what they say is important to you. Good listeners also separate themselves from the competition by:

  • Being open minded and staying curious about new ideas. You can’t listen if you have already decided how you “want” the other person to answer your questions.
  • Taking notes—it will help you come up with additional thoughts and questions based on key points the person states (though, to put the other person at ease, be sure to ask permission before you start writing).
  • Being silent. This gives other a chance to organize their thoughts and then state what’s on their minds. It also avoids cutting off their follow-on thought before they have a chance to express it.
  • Using verbal and visual signs that show you are paying attention, such as nodding your head when you agree, repeating key words or phrases, acknowledging or summarizing what you heard.
  • Asking a follow-up question rather than reacting or responding to their comments.

What else will I find in Networker’s Mentor?

To add to the list started in last week’s blog, here are more Networker’s Mentor postings to jumpstart your networking attitude, approach, and activities.  There are 46 topics in all–sounds like the making of a book! Let me know what you think!

4/5/13     What‘s getting in your way of networking?

3/22/13  Define Fun!

3/25/13  Back to the Future: If you could be doing any work you wanted, what would a fun day or week be like?

3/29/13  “How can I help?”

4/5/13     What‘s getting in your way of networking?

4/12/13  Are you seeking authenticity or approval?

4/12/13  Are you seeking authenticity or approval?

4/19/13  Reach out and make a real difference: Volunteer!

4/26/13  Take charge and make things happen

5/3/13     I’m new in the workplace; how can I meet more people in my field?

5/10/13  “There are no unimportant people”

5/17/13  Building sustainable relationships

5/24/13  Summer time and the networking is ……..

5/31/13  How you ask determines if they say “yes”

6/7/13     Perseverance or Pest?

6/14/13  7 Win-Win Networking Strategies

6/21/13  What’s the use of talking, if you don’t have something to say?

6/28/13  Summer reading to get you ready for the job market

7/12/13  Networking “staples”

7/19/13  Job search action verbs

8/2/13     What’s a “Good Fit?”

8/9/13     Job searches can be a good thing–really!

8/16/13  When you clean out your files; you find: Networking Tips—

8/23/13  Finding your professional/personal identify

9/6/13    What will you find in the Networker’s Mentor?

Keep checking back for more items that will help you through your network authentically in your personal and professional lives!

What will you find in the Networker’s Mentor?

When people ask me what I’ve been up to lately, I reply, “I’ve been blogging and sharing daily networking tips!” My Networker’s Mentor blog gives me space to expand the ideas beyond the snippets and tidbits in the daily tips. Here is just some of what you’ll find there:

10/20/12 Are you ready for some footballllllllllllll

10/27/12 What happens in Vegas doesn’t always have to stay in Vegas.

11/3/12  I’m not a good listener. What can I do?

11/10/12 Is it time for a mental sift? (yes, SIFT)

11/17/12 All you need is a little help from your ………Network

11/24/12 How do you present yourself?

12/1/12  Watch out for email threads

12/8/12  Make your list and check it twice

12/15/12 Changing Relationships

12/22/12 Bah Humbug! I don’t like parties or the holidays!!!!

1/4/13    How can you make your networking successful in 2013?

1/11/13  How can I be a better networker in 2013?

1/18/13  Are we there yet?

1/25/13  Need a new career dream?

2/1/13    Want to keep your network strong? Here’s how

2/1/13   February is here—It’s time to get out—why not attend an event!

2/8/13    Showing up may be 80%, but the other 20% matters too!

2/15/13  What’s different about attending an event when you are in a job search?

2/22/13  Is it ever too late to reconnect?

3/1/13    How to stay “top of mind” with others

3/8/13    Create a “working” life

3/15/13  Congratulations…I think….!

Check out some of these topics as you reinvigorate your networking this fall!

Finding Your Professional/Personal Identify

“Life is a road with unpredictable forks and unexpected tomorrows” — Sherman G. Finesilver.

Add the word work before life and you have a great reminder on how to look at managing our career journey. We are responsible for choosing the route, steering the direction, establishing the priorities, enjoying our experiences, adding to our expertise, and ultimately “safely” reaching our work-life goals and objectives.

Here are some “road map” signposts that came to my mind when I changed the quote to “Work-life is a road with unpredictable forks and unexpected tomorrows.”

  1. It is important to understand what’s important to you professionally and personally.
  2. It is important to be clear on what you expect from your professional life. What challenges you? What motivates you? What excites you? What matters to you?
  3. It is important to know the top 3-6 areas of your expertise.  Which one is your favorite? What types of responsibilities, rewards and recognition do you want for the contribution you make and accomplishments you help to achieve?
  4. It is important to know the day-to-day must do’s of moving forward. These include knowing: How do you want to focus your energy? What skills do you want to develop; build; drop?  Do you want to manage others? How do you want to spend your day? (type of working environment, size of organization, scope of products or services;  type and amount of travel)  What amount of time do you want to spend working autonomously or in collaboration with colleagues, clients, other functional areas?  What do you expect from others?

And most importantly: What good do you want to do?