Category Archives: business networking

How to command attention when introducing yourself.

I was reminded tonight at an event of a simple yet often overlooked way to command attention when introducing yourself…

…Don’t hand someone your card until after you have introduced yourself, shared what you do and hopefully developed some rapport.

If you do, you run the risk of them losing their focus on you, looking at the card and trying to read it while you are starting to speak.

It’s instinctive to want to hand someone our card or brochure when introducing yourself as it reinforces your name and maybe depicts an image of what we do. It’s especially tempting when other people around you are doing that and you are simply going with the trend.

Next time you are introducing yourself to someone, take note :

At what point are you handing out your business card?

Is it at the beginning of the interaction or the end of the interaction?

Are you taking notes on the back of your card? You can provide this to them as a helpful reference about your conversation and make the card exchange more meaningful.

What things have you found worked (or didn’t work) when introducing yourself to keep the other person engaged and actually hear (and understand as well as retain) what you are saying?

The Art of Invisible Networking – Yes, it exists.

Yes, you read that right. I just said invisible and networking in the same sentence. How could that be?

I love to ask about the concept of visibility when talking at events. When the audience is posed with the question of “what is visibility”, naturally, many answer that it’s “being seen” and yes, in a sense it is.. However, visibility is about much more than that.

Merriam-Webster defines visibility as “the capability of being readily noticed”…

Let’s re-read that. It is “the -capability- of being readily noticed.”

Understanding this and applying it was instrumental in me being able to quadruple the size of our previous business through online and offline networking. Why? Because I was intentional in making sure that I was in as many places as I could be both online and offline so that when a prospect was ready to “see” me, I was there.

In fact, it got to a point where people used to say to me “Taryn, I have a referral for you but I knew I would run into you during the week and wanted to give it to you in person.” They knew they would see me and counted on it, why? Because I was intentionally visible.

It is often discussed that consumers buy on their timetable and not on ours… The same applies to business networking and referrals. The trick to capitalize on this is to be everywhere you can so that you are always top of mind so that when the opportunity arises for you to capitalize on a moment, that you are there, ready to be noticed.

That being said, just because you are out networking does not mean that you are capable of being readily noticed. Imagine people who are on Twitter but only update once every few days. Do you think they are demonstrating that they have the capability of being readily noticed?

Do you know that person who goes to a networking event once in a while yet wonders why they can’t get business referrals? Or why it is that they are not often remembered? What about that person who is on Twitter or Facebook and feels that they are pointless and they cannot grow their businesses that way? Consider their posting habits or their event outreach…

Are YOU struggling with some of these concerns? It might be time to look at your own online and offline strategy and ask yourself the question  “am I truly visible?  Am I easily noticable? Am I accessible and memorable?”

If the answers are no, then you too might be inadvertently practicing the art of invisible networking…

Now that you know that, what are you going to do about it?

The Secret to Being Remembered

On Oct 29, I was a speaker at the business meets charity event, “Small Business Giving Big, on “How to attract referrals like a magnet.” In addition to being a speaker, I had the pleasure to sit in on the presentation by Bonnie Ross-Parker, America’s “Connection Diva.” She was talking on pointers for effective networking and she said something that truly resonated with me. I have always applied this to my networking strategy and teach it to my networking coaching clients but she summarized it beautifully and succinctly.

“If you rescue someone, they will love you forever.” Bonnie Ross Parker

Now, I am sure you can see the various ways that this can be applied in life and business… In this instance, she was referring to when you are at an event and you see someone standing alone… There are always people like that at functions… In fact, you might have been one of them at some point.

Her point is that, if you introduce yourself, make them feel welcome and even try to introduce them to some others at the event, you will surely stand out. This will make all the difference in their experience and they will also be open to learning more about you because you went out of your way to make them feel welcome. In addition, there is a great likelihood that they will not forget that experience because of how you went out of your way.

“Why show up [to a networking event] if you don’t want to be remembered?” – Bonnie Ross Parker

Have you ever had an experience where an individual went out of their way to make you feel welcome? Have you ever “rescued” someone?  What were the results of those experiences?

Lessons from a Hooters Girl…

Kat Cole, VP Of Training and Development for Hooters, Inc.

Kat Cole, VP Of Training and Development for Hooters, Inc.

On Thursday, November 5, the Vice President of Training and Development for Hooters, Inc., Kat Cole, spoke to 40 business women at an a lunch event hosted by my organization, Women Intelligently Networking (WIN!). She started out as a Hooters girl and now runs an enormous division of a company that generates over one billion annually. Suffice to say, if anyone knows something about customer service, motivation, sales, training, stigma and standing apart, it’s her.

Not only is Ms. Cole an incredibly inspiring and entertaining speaker, she is also very business savvy and has her own independent consulting firm that works with CEOs on leadership. There were many practical business tips provided as well as lessons shared from her experiences.

Here are three of the big take-aways that I had:

  • It’s okay to be opportunistic – when opportunity arises, do not feel bad about taking advantage of it.
  • “If no one is creating energy around you, you need to create it yourself,” This was the philosophy of the founders of Hooters who realized that instead of waiting for other people to get excited about Hooters, they had to do it for them and generate the buzz. Instead of waiting for things to happen, make them happen!

What tips do you have for getting ahead in the business world? Do you have any lessons that you wish you would have known when you started your business?

Why you need to be more human than human…

While driving back from the Social Media Business Forum in Durham, NC, I heard an old song and the chorus line really stuck with me… “More human than human.” As I sat in the car on that 6 hour drive home, I mulled this line over and over  in my head…

There is no doubt that social networking has become mainstream and is a socially acceptable aspect of our daily routines. In fact, if you are reading this post, you probably saw it linked to or referenced on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or through an email, which would confirm my point.  Through the digital world, we “connect” and “interact” with new friends, old friends, colleagues, acquaintances and strangers. We ask how people are, we follow their status updates, read blogs and may even comment… And until recently, that used to be human enough. Empathy, sympathy, community (virtual)… the list goes on… And why wouldn’t that be enough? We’re human, right?

But some are starting to refer to these new kinds of “relationships” as “artificial relationships.” Can these substitute for real, face to face encounters? I think not.  I actually found an interesting blog post adequately summed up in 1 question – “Are we perfecting the art of artificial relationships and losing the craft of cultivating deep friendships?”

So why should you care about being more human than human? Because now, more than ever, it will help you stand out, especially when it comes to online and offline business networking and connecting,  because the Internet has made things SO easy that now we need to recognize  in what areas relationships lacking.

Do things that people are starting to do less of.

Get out from behind the computer and meet people you interact with.

Get a small group of trusted virtual contacts and meet for coffee.

Attend established networking events.

Do the research, make the commitment and participate in local Tweetups.

Collect business cards to get actual contact information instead of Twitter aliases and Facebook connections.

In short, use your online networking to SUPPLEMENT the growth of your actual networks. Be intentional and make connections beyond what and who you see on your screen… Being human includes being a part of a community, not just a virtual one but an actual physical one and by being an active participant of your local community, you can expand your reach and develop your reputation both virtually and locally.

“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. “

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard people say comments such as:

“I never get business at networking events.”

“I don’t have a need for that specific speaker.”

“Networking doesn’t work.”

And most recently, ” I have a blog and I network online. Why do I need to go to any events?”

Networking should not be about just exchanging business cards nor should it be done with the goal of making an immediate sale.

It should, however, be about visibility AS WELL as having the foresight of knowing WHO and what kind of people are going to be at what events. You see, I was able to quadruple the market share of our previous business in 18 months not just because I “networked” but because I went to where I predicted the people I wanted to meet would be. I went with the intention of making 3-5 quality connections to develop relationships with, to try to help THEM grow their business and in turn build social capital and brand awareness.

Visibility: capability of being readily noticed (Merriam-Webster)

BLINDING FLASH OF THE OBVIOUS – I went to as many events as possible to make myself visible and totally accessible. In fact, it got to the point that people could start to trust that they would inevitably see me at some event during the course of the week so people would start to come and say “I was going to call to talk about your services but I knew that I would see you at this (or that) event.”

This being said, the subject line is one of my all time favorite quotes is from Wayne Gretzky. I feel it is extremely applicable and I reflect on it often when deciding what events to attend, what social networking websites to frequent and how I invest my time. It goes, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. ”

How can you apply this to YOUR online and offline networking strategy?

What are you saying before you speak?

First impressions are formed within the first few seconds of meeting someone… SECONDS. That means that in the time it took to read the first sentence, if you had met someone face to face, they already sized you up based on your demeanor, facial expressions and attire.

Like it or not, what you wear says alot about you and how seriously you take your business, product, service or blog…

When you are out “networking,” what are you wearing? Jeans? T-shirts? Sneakers? For women, are you wearing the right make-up? For gentleman, are your shirts tucked in neatly? You often don’t get a second chance at a first impression… are YOU putting your best businesss image forward?

Here is a big secret for you – I love jeans and would live in them if I could. But after 7 years of non-stop networking for visibility, business growth, exposure and credibilty, one thing stands true – when networking, you need to walk the walk and talk the talk. If you want people to remember you and want to make a good first impresssion, you need to stand out and do things that not everyone does.. That includes what you wear.

Have you considered that what you are wearing does not lend itself to optimal visual credibility? This is often one of the biggest reasons people do not earn trust and get beyond their first encounter. This can also affect the ability to earn referrals and invitations to attend other events from people in their network because it not yet apparent if they truly take their business, product, service or blog seriously.

In short… have you even considered what you and your image is saying before you speak?