Tag Archives: Networking

I recently came across this article “Learning to say no” and since a lot of my clients seem to struggle with saying no in a polite way I thought I would write a post about it. I think the issue is not that we all want to say yes all the time but to understand better why you say yes in the first place. Maybe networking is a good example.

When you network with purpose you give people a reason to contact you again. You provide advice and you invite people to get in touch with you. You promise them knowledge, education, and access to your professional network. You could help them save time on meaningless research and formatting tasks. You could even offer them your administrative support for free. Believe me, no one will believe that you are doing this without intention and an agenda. This is different. It will stick. You cannot make one key mistake though: You cannot expect reward or even gratitude from your counterpart. You need to believe in the “networking karma” as I like to call it.

You keep the relationship alive, even if the background of the other person doesn’t match yours or even if the person might be a competitor. You might also feel the tendency to continue giving to certain contacts without getting anything back and you might think this is a bad thing.

I don’t think so, but I think we all have to be careful that we are not abused by takers.

You never know when a contact will play a role later in life. I learned yesterday it takes between 5 and 7 years in Switzerland until a newbie is a fully accepted member of a “Zunfthaus”. You can learn more about this Swiss tradition when you speak to an expert. (I’m no Zunftexpert at all). I think this is a good time frame for your networking effort too. If you have not messed up the trust you are building in five to seven years you might be allowed to ask for a small favor.

What could happen if you invest in your professional network without an agenda and without immediate expectations is that you suddenly have too many balls in the air. You juggle your network of contacts and you are a sought-after expert in your field.

I get at least one request for a scientific research project a month. It usually means that I spend about an hour preparing for an interview and another hour with the interviewer. Sometimes I dig out literature or I promise to send a link or literature list afterward. Most students don’t see how much time it took me to prepare all that knowledge but I usually get their thesis as a gift, which is great because I have a very specific library now. So, I continue to say “yes” to students because it helps me to keep up to speed with the academic research in my field. I work with an intention but not based on immediate gratification. In my view that is a different mindset.

You need to know when you say yes and when you say no

My own coach and mentor recently explained that we all need to learn to say no in a polite way. We need to be professional “Nein, danke” sayers. And for a giver that’s not so easy. What I recommend to do is to set yourself some principles and guidelines. This is how I came up with the ten professional networking principles initially. I used them to help me in my efforts to be less strategic but still network according to my purpose and values.

You could collage a thank you-wall or have a box of thank you cards

We forget sometimes how grateful people are when you help them achieve what they would like to achieve. One idea I have is that you could put together a wall with all the emails, notes and postcards you receive from people who just say “thank you”. Or you could keep them in a box or nice folder.

Learn to say “NEIN, DANKE!”

Instead of saying plain “No.”, you could consider a “yes, if…” or “no, thank you.”. You could say yes if certain conditions are met and if you are declining you have a few good arguments to decline. For example, you could say: I’m happy to meet you if we meet during lunchtime in a restaurant close to where I work.” or “I’m happy to give you advice if you prepare five questions and send them to me 24 hours before the meeting.” or “I’m happy to support your refugee program if you show my logo on your website.”

What will you decline politely this week?

Angie

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Give and Take by Adam M. Grant

On Perfectionism
http://www.vanschneider.com/perfectionism-is-killing-your-creativity

 

How do you look for a new role? Do you rely on what is posted out there or are you getting ahead of the competition by sourcing a role that potentially does not even exist yet? And when you identify a “dream role” do you get all disappointed if you cannot have it or once you have it, the role turns out to be less of a paradise than expected?

Have you considered that there is a lot of work for you in the Swiss market but that you will never be matched to the perfect role profile?

Stop waiting for the perfect dream role and start to source work for yourself.

1) Use a new source for job alerts
Forget jobs.ch and indeed.ch. Start looking on XING and LinkedIn. Check out Facebook groups and Twitter. Recruiters are getting increasingly creative and pitch jobs on LinkedIn and Twitter. Maybe there is even a youtube channel where you can look for jobs. Please let me know if you find one. We mention a Facebook group that could be interesting for you.

2) Support your network
You want to find out if your skill set would be useful to your contacts by meeting for coffee but your contacts never take up the offer? In Switzerland, “coffees” are considered break time and in break time you want to discuss fun stuff. Try to meet your contacts when they need to unwind or take a break but not during their “productive” time. Offer to take them for a walk or run during lunch. Ask your buddies if you can organize a hiking or wellness trip for them. Buy them a ticket to the Schauspielhaus or Opera. Help them enjoy life and you will win their hearts.

3) Improve your Elevator Pitch
Practice your offering to the world so you can share it in your sleep and learn to rephrase your pitch into good questions. Ask the question that will catapult you right into the front of mind of your contacts the next time an opening comes up.

4) Brand yourself in a recognizable way
We use a lot of visual clues today to recognize faces. You can make it easier for people if you dare to be a little weird so that people will remember you. Wear a hat, show your curls, feature a man bun or a special color that you will be recognized with. Wear the same look on public occasions. (The same look does not mean the same clothes…). Have a business card that is recognizable.

5) Volunteer
A lot of work in Switzerland comes out of your network, association, and your local soccer club. Volunteer for a cause, support others on a pro-bono basis and paid work might come along in the process.

I hope these tips are helpful and please let me know what you will do next.

Have an inspired week ahead!

Angie

Track
I’m teaching others how to do a two-minute elevator pitch.
I have to admit, I recently went to an event a bit unprepared. I saw the issue coming when more and more other coaches (competition!) entered the hall. It was like a movie scene. The potential clients came streaming towards us as if they had actually put some thought into it. I ended up chatting with one woman. Then the coordinator asked us to pitch. I wanted to use storytelling but it did not fit into her structure and (damn!) I had not even written down what to say. It was a matter of not being prepared because I had no clue what to expect there.
I focussed on being relaxed and present in the moment.
I said, “I’m Angie Weinberger. I work with international professionals in Zurich and Basel and help them find work or start a business. And I recently discovered that I like nerds.”
A few giggles. I managed to make them remember me.
Out of 16 potential clients, I spoke to seven. Many referred to themselves as introverts or nerds. I’m not sure if any of these introverts will work with me but I had a great time. I thought “I will need to walk my talk on networking”. I first of all asked every woman if she had a business card. Only the last one had one.
Then I asked a few questions. Often I found that they needed a piece of information that I could easily send to them. I asked them for their email IDs. In such situations my mobile batteries are flat, so I wrote the email IDs into a notebook. This is old school but it worked. I also took notes on the information they gave about themselves.
I managed to take home six email ID’s and promised different follow-ups. This might not lead to any business but it was a good practice for me and for them. It showed me again how many professionals go to an event unprepared.
You can make an impression at such an event only if you are a helpful resource and if you put your own agenda on hold. You want the new contact to remember you until you follow up with them. I stayed until the end. My feet and back hurt but I smiled on.

Robots, Recruiters, and Rain

I also feel even more empathic with you after this experience. “Selling” yourself is hard work. Most of the times, we do not learn to become a sales person of our own professional package. Not only do we have to develop a great and consistent branding. The message has to be clear to a large target audience too. We will need to go through several filters of robots and recruiters. When we finally managed to land an interview it most certainly is a day with rain (or snow), we spill salad sauce on our freshly ironed shirt and the train is late for once. When you are in such a position, there is only one thing you can do: breathe out, have a glass of still water and speak slow. Most of all: Be present.

Become a “Superstar” in your Niche

In order to get out of the sales position, you want to become a superstar so you are top-of-mind of a potential manager and do not really have to rely on the cumbersome application process. You want to be in a position where you come up in the top ten of the manager’s mind at least. Sheryl Sandberg wrote in “Lean in” that you need to write down your career goal as being #1 in a profession (globally). I am not saying that you have to be #1 globally but you might want to be in a top ten position in your geographical area and your niche. What’s the point of being #1 in Digital Media when you don’t want to move to Abu Dhabi, London or Texas for your next role? Let’s be optimistic and ambitious but stay a bit humble.

Learn to Become a Resource

You have tools, templates, and knowledge to share. You have experiences, tips and contacts you can help others with. Learn to become a resource as if everyone you connect with was a colleague or a friend. If you train your attitude you will learn that helping others as a default gives you satisfaction. And if you feel you have nothing to share you can always encourage the other person. We all need a little appreciation once in a while.

Change your Elevator Pitch Approach from Taker to Giver

My clients practice changing their elevator pitches. One of the key skills you have to learn to become a giver is to ask sensitive questions instead of talking all the time. Another skill is to listen. Check out other blog posts on networking approaches here.

 

If you need help with your elevator pitch or networking please set up a meeting with me.

purpose, preparation...

“When we are clear about our contribution to the world, we will use all channels available to make that contribution happen.”

 


As an entrepreneur you constantly despise one topic more than anything else: Networking for the sake of networking. Time wasters. Events with no outcome. Coffee meetings with people who never plan to support you but happily take your advice. Know that feeling? It happens it seems. I try to avoid it. Since 2012 I have constantly reviewed my “networking” strategy and have become very strategic about building connections in a way that suits me but also generates business.

There will be a time in your networking life when you notice that you will only bring an extra benefit to your network when you really do work on the net or as I tend to say in talks “Network your network”. DSCN4689

Stop handing out your business card!

Start helping your contacts to improve their work and life.

Continue to regularly meet like-minded professionals.

1) Connecting those who normally would not meet

A big benefit of being a networking queen or king is that you can organize connections that the members of your network cannot create. Think about who would need to know whom in your network in order to move ahead one step with one of their issues. Maybe a friend needs a new job or a business contact wants a new client or needs to solve an immediate problem at hand. Risk a little discomfort. Set them up for a “blind date”. Trust your judgement and see what happens.

Over the last few years I have made several professional introductions. Mainly I helped my clients to find jobs that they would otherwise not even know of. I also benefit from introductions so I try to keep the karma of connections spinning. (I also seem to make romantic matches without intention but I guess this is post is more about meeting a business connection for a coffee than meeting the love of your life at Angie’s party.)

2) Relationships always require work

As in a good marriage you want to keep the relationship alive by making it beneficial for both parties. Once you know too many people you might just react once you are asked but even a small advice to a junior colleague might help them to move ahead in their career or move out of a job where they have stopped to learn. A lot of professionals I know have lost the ability to trust their managers and colleagues (are you surprised?). So being a mentor for a more junior professional in your industry can be really motivating for this person.

3) Share your knowledge and expertise graciously

There has never been a time where too much knowledge was hurtful. It’s also impossible to shock people with well-written report summaries or other insights you have about your industry. Start posting on LinkedIn. Tell people what you know and how you view the trends. In a worst-case scenario you get a negative comment. I once had developed this simplified method to deal with client issues and got a response like “Dumbo, this method already exists. It’s called DMAIC” or “What a bad example!”

I was offended yes but then I thought that it was actually good to know that I came up with a simplified SIX SIGMA method without going through years of training. Also, I realized that my clients might face issues in Switzerland because of their lack of friends that in other countries would be easy to solve. I also understood that because of the high salary level here it is not always easy to get the support you are used to from your home country. Having a connector like me is really important for my clients.

Most people are actually nice on LinkedIn. Risk it, be bald and bring in your unique perspective to the world.

4) Helping others increases your self-esteem

It sounds like a boy/girl-scout value but “a good deed a day keeps the shrink away”. When you help your contacts then you will feel more self-respect and wake up with a smile on your face. It always makes me so happy when a client tells me they found a job they love or that a connection was really helpful.

It’s even more fun to just support people in your network (for FREE). Give them likes, +1, endorsements, retweets and hearts when you are not paid for it. It’s a great way to give people appreciation and we all could get a bit more of that especially in the corporate world.

5) Challenge yourself and treat networking as a game

I often ask my clients to set a networking target. That includes that they must give before they take. So it could be a small weekly challenge such as meeting a person you never meet for a coffee. You could also offer to connect someone to someone else because you know they share a theme, hobby or interest. These “blind dates” really seem to bring out most amazing collaborations. You obviously want to ask permission before sharing details. You could implement a score card on your whiteboard and whenever you helped a connection you add a smiley there. Imagine how that will make YOU feel.

Let us know in the comments how you scored and why you think you made a difference this week?

 

BTW: Ashley, one of my connections recommended, that I read the book “Give and Take”. It actually proves scientifically that “givers” will win hearts and prosperity in the long-haul. A great read.