Saturday, July 4, 2020

Check It Out Before You Join

Thinking about joining an association or networking group?  Remember that you are about to place a very talented person – you – in a key position, so look before you leap. Attend a couple of meetings – on line or in person - as a guest. Talk to new members and board members. Read several issues of the newsletter. Scan the membership directory. Before you hand over your – or your organization’s – money and commit your time, assess the group's potential value to you by answering these questions. 

  1. How many members are there? The bigger the better for networking, but it may be easier to move into leadership positions or gain visibility in other ways when you join a smaller group.
  2. Can I get excited about the group's mission? Will its activities help me reach my networking goals? Are people in the group likely to provide valuable resources or information?
  3. Are people in the group likely to need my product or service or to refer business to me? What do people say about the group? What's its reputation in the profession or community?
  4. What opportunities will the group offer me to associate with my peers? How about with the well-known gurus in the field?
  5. Does the group set a good networking culture by encouraging people to introduce themselves and talk to each other about important business and career challenges?
  6. Does the group have special activities to help newcomers feel welcome and meet people?
  7. How easy is it to participate? How quickly could I move into a leadership role that would give me visibility, access to best practices, and introductions to people I’d like to know?
  8. Do the leaders seem genuinely excited about their participation or are they playing "somebody has to do it?"
  9. Are the programs “cutting edge?” Do the topics and speakers provide valuable professional growth?  Will they offer best practices I can take back to my organization?
  10. What would my time commitment be? Can I make that commitment for at least one year?
  11. What exactly could I contribute to this group to become visible?
For more on making the most of your memberships, see our book, Strategic Connections: The New Face of Networking in a Collaborative World (Harper Collins Leadership). 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Conversation Quiz: Do You Know the Best Response?

Good for you if you have a few “conversation starter” questions on the tip of your tongue.  But also, be quick with responses that will deepen the interaction, that will help you get to know people.  

Choose the best response to 4 typical comments below.  Choose ones that will lead to more conversation and create connection.  

Bill says, “I just moved here two months ago.”
You say,
A. “I’ve been here 10 years.”
B. “Where did you live before?”
C. “What’s it been like getting used to a new city?”

Sonia says, “I’m starting a new company.”
You say,
A. “I work for XYZ company.”
B. “What’s the name of your new company?”
C. “What kinds of people would you like to connect with to help you make a go of it?”

Raj says, “I just got back from vacation.”
You say,
A. “Boy, do I need one of those!”
B. “Where did you go?”
C. “What was your very favorite day like?”

Lou says, “I found what the speaker said so fascinating.” 
You say, 

A. “Me too.”
B. “Do you know the speaker?”
C. “Tell me more about what caught your attention.”       

The “A” responses turn the conversation back to you. The “B” responses elicit a short, factual answer. They show interest and add to your knowledge about your contact.  The “C” responses engage the other person, ask for evaluation and opinion, and lead you to commonalities and needs you can respond to. So choose “A” responses rarely.  Choose the “B” responses sometimes.  And choose the “C” responses, the ones that have the most potential to create connection, most often.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Banish Bureaucratic Bottlenecks (Alan did it in 5 minutes!)

Here’s a story that shows how Alan uncorked a bureaucratic bottleneck and got the project done.

“I was meeting with my co-worker, Tom, to go over progress on a project we were leading,” Alan, our past client said.   Tom complained, “For weeks I’ve been trying to get the info we need from the IT department – no luck.”  Alan said to Tom, “I'll be right back.” 

When he returned he said, with a smile,  “You’ll find the info you need in your email when you get back to your office."

Tom looked incredulous. “How did you do that???  And in 5 minutes!  I've been trying to get that out of them for weeks."

Alan said, "It didn’t take 5 minutes.  It took 5 years.  That's how long I've known Charlie – I worked with him on a project, and we make it a point to stay in touch."

Training by Contacts Count gives employees the skills to “stay in touch.”  To banish bureaucratic bottlenecks we teach practical, down-to-earth skills like Alan uses, such as how to:

  • Start a conversation and end a conversation
  • Make your value visible to others with stories and examples
  • Teach people what to come to you for, count on you for, recommend you for
  • Figure out a good next step when you want more of a relationship
  • Avoid asking for too much too soon . . . or too little too late
  • Be a “go-to” person whom people see as a resource
  • Mentor and support others to give their best
  • Show that you like other people (when choosing who to work with  others likeability is valued more than competence!!!) 
  • And Much More
We’ll help you come up with just the right program given your goals, time frames, audience, and budget.

Here’s what Kwame Ullman, a Medical Device Executive, said after attending a training at his workplace. “I was immediately taken by the applicability of Lynne’s advice.  She presented sound ideas on how to network.  I turn to Make Your Contacts Count when preparing for key industry events.  It’s filled with tools to build sustainable relationships. That training and the book were a professional turning point for me and changed how I think about nurturing relationships.”