Leadership Aha! – The Power of Networking, It’s Easier Than You Think

You’ve no doubt heard it a million times: Career advancement is as much about who you know as what you know—and that’s exactly why being a powerful networker is so important.

And mastering this crucial skill requires more than just schmoozing over cheese platters and exchanging business cards. There’s actually an art to it. True networking in its purest form, it’s about people enjoying other people, communicating passions and connecting with others who share those passions.

It’s about listening, figuring out what others need and connecting them with people you think can help, without any designs for personal gain. The most successful networkers build genuine relationships and give more than they receive.

They go beyond thinking, “What’s in it for me?” to ask “How can I help?”   This is applies to both formal networking events as well as in our one-on-one conversation with another person.

So you have the desire to network?  Below are ways to network successfully and have fun doing it.

  1. Start networking before you need it. Networking when you have no ulterior motive, you can begin to build relationships and a reputation for being generous rather than self-serving.
  2. Have a plan – of who you are. Since every person has value, it’s essential that you know what yours is. Get clear on what talents, strengths, skill sets and connections you can bring to the table.  Map out what you want to talk about, particularly how you may be able to help other people, either now or in the future.
  3. Have a plan – Schedule time.  Aside from formal networking events, think about who you would like to reach out weekly, monthly, etc. and make a plan to do it.  Set time for lunch or send an article that is relevant to something they are interested in – show interest.
  4. Deepen Your Network Pool.  Birds of a feather flock together – the more similar someone is to you, the more comfortable it feels to connect.   We tend to hang out with people like ourselves—the same gender, ethnicity and academic background, etc., yet diversity is key to growing a strong personal network. So seek relationships with totally different people who can introduce you to brand-new social clusters.
  5. Never dismiss anyone as unimportant.  Make it your mission to discover the value in each person you talk to. Ask questions and listen with interest. Don’t make the mistake of discounting people due to their titles – they may have valuable connections or knowledge you’d never learn about if you’d dismissed them. Then, when the conversation ends, remember what that person has to offer.  This will help you in the next bullet.
  6. Forget your personal agenda and connect the dots.  While you may be tempted to network just to land a job or talk to people you normally wouldn’t have access to, that’s a mistake. Instead, make it your goal to be open, friendly and honest, and to forge connections between people who may be able to help each other. Generosity is an attractive quality and it’s something special that people will remember about you.
  7. Figure out how you can be useful. Before any conversation ends, be sure to ask, “How can I help you?” Because it’s done so rarely, you may encounter a surprised look, but it will most likely be accompanied by an appreciative smile.   People will remember you as helpful and in turn may be more apt to help you in the future.
  8. Follow up and follow through. If you told someone you’d get in touch with them, do it and reaffirm your intent to assist in any way you can. It takes no more than a minute to shoot off an email to introduce two people you want to connect. They can take it from there and do the work — just enjoy being the bridge. Little things like that mean a lot to people.
  9. Believe in the power of networking.  When you believe that the true value of networking lies in helping others and you do your part, you’ll soon discover magic happening all around you. The beauty of this approach is that you never know when that magic may cast its spell on you.

 

What are those areas you would like to expand or learn more about?  Are there events you could attend?  Or someone new to have lunch with?  The more you do it, the easier (and more enjoyable) it becomes.

 

 

Excerpts from Secrets from Power Networking Pros, Forbes 2014

 

Got Email?

How many hours do you spend communicating by email every day? Most of us would answer, “Too many!”  People spend 28% of their working week reading and replying to emails  (study by McKinsey® & Company). Yet, despite the risk of becoming overloaded  with messages, it remains one of the most powerful and efficient communication tools.

Using email is a quick and easy way to stay connected; however, it can be very easy to send ineffective emails, create the wrong impression, or even damage your reputation with sloppy practices.  Below are 10 common mistakes people  make when sending email, and outlined steps you can do to avoid them.

 

Mistake 1: Using the Wrong Tone

You might be tempted to send emails quickly when you’re in a rush, without thinking carefully about your audience, what you’re saying, or how your message might come across. So, it’s important to consider who you’re “talking” to and what action you want them to take, before you start writing.

A good rule to follow is to address people in an email as you would in person. For example, making a quick request or providing instructions without a “hello” or “thank you” will likely come across as rude, regardless of how busy you are. So, make sure that all of your emails are courteous and respectful, and avoid typing in capitals, which implies anger or aggression.

 

Mistake 2: Hitting “Reply All”

How often have you been copied into an email exchange that’s not relevant to you, and doesn’t require you to take any action? Chances are, it happens regularly, and you know how frustrating it can be.

“Reply all” is a useful tool for keeping multiple team members in the loop but it can be distracting and time consuming; and becoming known as the person who always hits “reply all” can potentially damage your reputation , as it can appear thoughtless, rushed and unprofessional. It might also suggest that you’re not confident making decisions without input from senior managers.

So, consider whether you should “reply all” or respond only to the email’s sender. And, think about whether using “cc” (carbon copy) to  include selected team members is more appropriate, and outline why you copied others and what is expected of them.

 

Mistake 3: Writing Too Much

Brief and succinct emails that contain only the important details are much more effective than long or wordy ones.If you’re struggling to keep your message short, consider whether the subject matter is too complex. Would another way of communicating it be more effective? Would a face-to-face meeting or telephone call make it clearer? Should you put your information in a procedure document instead?

 

Mistake 4: Forgetting Something?

How many times have you sent an email without attaching the relevant document? Perhaps you included a link that didn’t work? Or even attached the wrong file? Consider attaching files as soon as your start drafting your message, and always check all of your links carefully.

 

Mistake 5: Emailing the Wrong Person

Today, email providers increasingly use “auto-fill,” predictive text and “threads” (or “conversation view”), which can all increase the risk of you sending your message to the wrong person.  So, always pause to review your email before you send it. When you reply to or forward an email within a thread, make sure that all the messages contained within it are appropriate for the recipient. Is there any sensitive information? Are there any personal comments or remarks?

 

Mistake 6: Being Too Emotional

One of the main benefits of email is that you don’t need to respond immediately. Delay your response when you’re stressed, angry or upset. These emails could damage your working relationships, or even be used as evidence against you. Wait until you’ve calmed down and can think clearly and rationally.

 

Mistake 7: Not Using “Delay Send”

It can be satisfying to send an email as soon as you finish writing it, so that it’s “off your desk.” However, many email clients now provide a “delay” or “scheduled send” function, which can be particularly useful.

For example, imagine that you’re catching up on your emails late at night or during the weekend. What sort of impression will this give clients and stakeholders? How will they view your time management? Will team members feel that they should take action out of working hours?  Alternatively, imagine that you’re working on a project, and you want to provide your team members with information at a specific point. Scheduling an email to arrive at a certain time is a good way to do this, and it can help you manage your time and organize your workload.

 

Mistake 8: Using Vague Subject Lines

As we’ve said, email is most effective when your message is concise and to the point (but not abrupt). So, it’s important to start with a clear subject line, so that people know what to expect when they open it.  What is your email about? Is there an important deadline date? Do you want people to take action before a certain time? Is it urgent or non-urgent? Tailor your subject line accordingly, so your recipient can give the email the right level of priority and attention.

 

Mistake 9: Not Reviewing

Proofing your emails is one of the most important things you can do. It only takes a few minutes, and it helps you to pick up poor grammar, spelling mistakes and punctuation errors, which look unprofessional and sloppy

Finally, don’t add the recipient to your email until the last moment. This ensures that you can’t accidentally send your message before you’ve finished writing it, have added your attachment, checked the email, and spotted any errors.

 

Mistake 10: Sending Unnecessary Emails

Because email is so quick and convenient, it can easily become your default communication method with your team. However, it’s important to remember that email is also impersonal, and you risk losing touch with people if you rely on it too much. It’s certainly not a substitute for face-to-face or even phone communication.

 

Key Points

Email can be a quick, efficient and effective way of communicating if it’s used properly. However, think carefully about how you use it, and how reliant you are upon it.

  • Get into the habit of reviewing and re-reading your emails before you send them – you may be surprised by what you pick up.
  • Think carefully about how you use “reply all,” cc and bcc.
  • Take time to consider whether you are spending too much time communicating by email. Do you rely on it too much when managing your team?

Source: Mindtools.com