What value does face to face networking bring?

Goodlife_Careers-6035

This topic has been top of mind for me this week. I saw a sponsored Facebook post pop up in my feed saying, “Grow your business without having to network”. The ad was selling an online sales strategy – a model that often saturates our social media feeds and inboxes (if lured to their freebies in exchange for our email address). Whilst I have been looking at boosting my coaching business’s online strategy, and can see this model’s potential for success, I am mindful of getting the right level of authenticity when promoting my services, especially in the online world.

So, what does this have to do with networking?

I have always actively put myself ‘out there’ to meet others. In person. This has been a successful marketing tool for my business. I enjoy the organic nature of this approach and feel there is strength in building meaningful professional relationships. My business offers coaching to people to help manage their career and job search with proactive networking techniques and I find that most people are initially resistant to networking because it seems ‘salesy’. It doesn’t have to be and here’s why:

  • Start with coffee conversations. Who can you catch up with that you haven’t seen for a while?
  • Know your story. What’s going on for you in business, work or life? Share what’s working well and don’t be afraid to talk briefly about a specific challenge if you think it’s appropriate. They might have the answer you need.
  • Understand you values and motivators. This is pretty important as these are the things that drive you. Is there a particular cause or project you truly care about or hold close to your heart? This answer’s the question about WHY we do things.
  • Know your offering. How do you make a difference in business, work or life? What is your particular area of expertise and how does it transform or help others?

Knowing yourself well leads to understanding and promoting your personal and professional brand. When this is clear you can give an essence of ‘you’ both in person and across social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram (these are my top three). These online tools encourage and help people to engage which can lead to connecting directly via messaging and/or being directed to your website to find out more.

Now, back to the coffee conversations…

  • Be curious about the person you’re meeting with. Whether it’s a colleague, friend, school parent, potential client treat the conversation with friendly professionalism and ask – what’s news with you? Actively listen to their story and if you have a tip, advice, can refer them or simply a sounding board, then you are being generous with your time and energy.
  • Follow up with a short appreciative email or text if you think it’s appropriate and share any info you said you’d follow up on.
  • Connect on social media if you haven’t already (using the right tool for the audience – I often suggest LinkedIn as it’s the most professional).

Networking doesn’t just happen over coffee or social media though. It happens all the time. Here’s some ways that I connect (that have led to successful business referrals):

  • Cohoots coworking meeting roomCoworking space
  • Contracting
  • Train / commute
  • Short course / conference
  • Committees
  • Business association
  • Volunteering / community involvement
  • Friends and family
  • Hairdresser (think about it – they chat with lots of people every day!)

To summarise, know your value, your offering, your area of expertise and tell your story far and wide. And be yourself. No one needs the pressure of someone directly selling something. It’s much easier to be genuine in your conversations and people will be interested to find out more. By following up with an email or social media connection keeps the conversation going and if they want to engage further they know where to find you. You never know when the people you meet and the discussions you have will lead to a job opportunity or a business referral so think about the message you give.

I’ve written step by step tips to strengthen your networking skills HERE.

I’ve also included information to Simon’s Sinek’s ‘Start with Why‘ as I think it’s a good way to remind us of our purpose.

Get in touch with Genevieve for a coaching session on networking skills or how to optimise your LinkedIn.

Top image by photographer Lucy Foster of LuLu Snap
Smaller image taken by Gen

 

Target your next job prospect through your contacts

Career Coffee Networking

In a coaching session last week my client, Zara* was sharing her ideas in setting up a not-for-profit (NFP) organisation.  As she was speaking I noticed myself pondering who I might know that could help her. I made a couple of suggestions then stopped and asked, ‘What is it that you need most help with?’ She replied, ‘I need to speak with someone who has already set up a successful NFP.’ Done. I knew just the person and sent an e-introduction. They are now on their way to meeting up and Zara is shouting my friend lunch.  Continue reading “Target your next job prospect through your contacts”

How to Strengthen Your Networking Skills

office-336368_1280Networking is a healthy life skill that’s not just for people in management roles.  It’s for everyone. When I speak with people about networking, some shy away from the concept as it’s seemingly daunting. Comments such as, ‘Nothing could be worse than going to an event and having to make small talk with people.’ I’ll pop some resources at the end of this post with useful networking information for people who feel this way or are more introverted.   Continue reading “How to Strengthen Your Networking Skills”

An Attitude of Gratitude

thank you

When someone has done you a favour, helped you out or given their time, I assume it comes naturally to most people to say “thank you”. I was raised to write thank you cards to long distant family members when receiving presents, so for me its second nature.

In our busy lives, sending a note of thanks can often be overlooked and that’s ok. However, if you DO make this gesture it can have a positive impact in a number of ways: Continue reading “An Attitude of Gratitude”

The People You Meet When You Volunteer

Volunteer HappinessThis week is National Volunteers Week in Australia where the theme is Give Happy, Live Happy. This message is about volunteers making a difference to other people’s lives, but also the effect of volunteering on their own well being, by lifting mood and happiness. I volunteer my time with a local group – Harcourt Progress Association, by coordinating the advertising for their monthly newspaper – The Core. This newsletter didn’t exist two years ago and I really enjoy working with the Editor and being part of its growth. The Core is now at 24 pages and features interesting articles, event information, a crossword, local stories & much more. Continue reading “The People You Meet When You Volunteer”

Job Search Toolkit

Job Search Toolkit

March has been a crazy month for me, juggling a busy workload (which is great), plus volunteering for our local community event, Harcourt Applefest. This means any blogging or social media marketing for my business has fallen by the wayside. So, for my March post I thought I’d share some extra helpful job search tips. Continue reading “Job Search Toolkit”

Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

Last week I attended a training course facilitated by Professor Jim Bright on Career Coaching, Counselling and Assessment. The first question he asked was “have you arrived in your current job by choice or by chance?” Jim is the co-author of the book called “The Chaos Theory of Careers” and this training covered how our careers are often shaped by unplanned events. Continue reading “Being in the Right Place at the Right Time”

Tell Me About Yourself (Developing a Networking Pitch)

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One of my goals this year is to build more local relationships and connections through networking.  Networking can come to some people naturally, but for others it can be daunting.  I would rate myself in the middle whereby I like to be social, yet it takes some self-talk and planning to get me out to market my business.

I plan my networking activity by listing who I’d like to connect with and how will I go about it.  Whether I’m cold calling on recruitment firms, attending a community event, or inviting people on LinkedIn for a coffee meeting, at some point a face to face discussion will need to take place.  Here’s where more planning needs to be done – preparing what to say.

Continue reading “Tell Me About Yourself (Developing a Networking Pitch)”

How To Open Doors

Handleby Genevieve Ward

The last few weeks I’ve been super busy juggling my business activities between working with clients, marketing via social media, preparing presentation slides, responding to emails and building my professional contacts.  All important and exciting stuff to keep my business moving forward and thankfully my efforts are paying off!  I’ve started working with some local people to hone their job search skills, I’m presenting to graduate librarians on interview techniques and I’ve joined a local think tank.  I attribute these recent successes to networking. Continue reading “How To Open Doors”

Telling Your Story

Creating YourselfPeople love to hear what you’re up to.  Everyone’s got a story to tell.  How do you make it work well for you?

When I set up my career coaching business in 2012 I was so busy mastering basic bookkeeping that not much thought was given to my business branding.  I was good a working through my lists, setting up resources and planning how to market, but I hadn’t considered my message about what I do. Continue reading “Telling Your Story”