Networking News

What Are You Missing by Not Networking?

As published in the February Business Connector

Networking is a term you may have heard being tossed around in the business world before, but have never put much thought or effort toward. Whether you realize it or not, many of us network daily in our interactions with others. Merriam-Webster defines networking as, “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions;specifically:cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” If you have “rubbed some elbows”, as they say, with other business peoples throughout your week, you have networked. You probably didn’t even know that when you talked to Joe the plumber on  Monday about your business, and exchanged some information, that you were networking.

As you climb your way up the business networking ladder, you can become a very influential individual. When you network with others, people will notice. People’s perception of you will change, and your status will be elevated. Your new, elevated status may help you make connections you were unable to make in the past, or even make connections you were unaware of before networking. Keep your ear to the ground as we will be expanding on the idea of “perception” in the future, and how it can affect you and your business.

So if you’re like me and don’t like to read lengthy articles, here’s the recap for you:

Networking
Interacting with others to grow relationships for business reasons.
Also known as “rubbing elbows.”

Advantages of Networking
You meet new people.
New relationships may help advance your business efforts.

But if you really want to see what networking can do for you, be sure to check out my blog for the full article: www.somecleanthoughts.blogspot.com

Kurtis is a new member and will be a regular contributor to our newsletter, writing about networking.
Kurtis Bell, ServiceMaster by Bell, Inc., kurtis.smbybell@gmail.com  877-214-1664 814-764-3232

Positive Networking ®  with Others is Mind

As published in the March Business Connector

Now that we’ve covered our bases and defined networking, I’m going to take what we established last month and flip it around on you. Most of us probably think we network in a business setting to make sales, close deals, or schmooze the big shots. That’s definitely one way of looking at it. But what if you head out to network and make no sales, can not close a single deal, or don’t feel comfortable schmoozing the big shots? If you find yourself in this situation, you probably feel a lot of pressure associated with networking and attending networking events. Here is where the learning begins.

Let’s take the pressure off you when it comes to networking, and make networking fun! Allow me to introduce you to Positive Networking ®. Positive Networking ® is a term coined by the great crew over at workthepond.com. It is an approach to networking that takes the pressure off of you. Instead of focusing on your needs, you focus on the needs of others. Ask yourself, “What can I do for others?”.

This new approach lets you grow relationships as well as form new relationships. Also, since you aren’t pitching a sale, trying to close a deal, or brown-nosing, you are under zero pressure. You’re simply being nice and genuinely interested in the person you have engaged in conversation. By getting to know someone in more detail, it helps us to better answer the question “What can I do for others?”.

Once again, thanks for reading! Be sure to check out my blog for an expanded view of this column and www.workthepond.com for some great Positive Networking ® information.

Kurtis Bell, ServiceMaster by Bell, Inc, kurtis.smbybell@gmail.com     somecleanthoughts.blogspot.com

And You Are?: What Your Business Card Says of You and Your Company.

As published in the April Business Connector

We all have them, carry them, and pass them around to be the reminder of who we are and what we do. Business cards are an integral part of business and networking. They can say a lot about who you are and what you are all about. Does your card say “I’m unorganized.”, “I’m the one you need to know.”, “My company is cheap.”, “My company is the industry leader.”? When looking at your card, does someone see the same in you and your company as what you are trying to convey?

Some of us (myself included) are bound by corporate identity policies that limit and monitor what we have on our cards. Companies put these in place so that your card represents the company in a way that they see
fitting. For those of you who have some freedom with cards, this article is for you!

Appearance: Make your card easy to read and user friendly.

Title: We all have them. What does yours say about you? Are you the “Chief Conversation Officer”?, or maybe yours says “Head Hancho”. Use creative titles responsibly though, as some may not fit with your business.

Pictures: Does your card contain your image? That is a great way to keep your face in front of your business   partners and contacts!

By making a few small changes such as cleaning up your template, sprucing up that title of yours, and adding a great headshot of yourself; you can take your card from sub-par to superstar. This overhaul may not suit everyone, but those that are bold and daring are sure to be rewarded with a great, professional looking card that will stick out in the sea of cookie-cutter business cards.

Be sure to check out my blog for the full story on overhauling your business card! www.somecleanthoughts.blogspot.com

Ditch the Small Talk…It’s Time for Big Talk

As published in the May Business Connector
Written by kurtis.smbybell@gmail.com

So why put all this time and effort in to building relationships? Why should you not only attend business functions, but actively engage others at these events? You do these things to help construct your social framework. Your social framework, or network, can be an immensely valuable tool that can be used in numerous situations that you encounter on a daily basis. You can call on a friend in your network to help solve a problem that has you stumped, to collaborate on a project, or even to help a friend.

These all sound like great ways to get things done, but if you have not done the legwork to develop relationships to construct your social framework, you may be stranded in a time of need. Often times we neglect the relationships and our networks never develop, or begin to crumble if they have been established. If you don’t maintain your relationships, you might as well have never developed them in the first place.

Some of us struggle with figuring out who we need to develop relationships with for our business. Here’s a simple exercise that Casey McVay and I developed. Casey is a master networker who works as the Assistant Coordinator of Admissions and Financial Aid at Venango College of Clarion University. This is the Big-Talk Top 10 Challenge. Construct a list of the 10 people you would like to contact if you found out right now that you have lost your job. These can be people you know, people you see on tv or read about in magazines, or major names that you have just heard being tossed around. Once you have constructed your list, make it a point to take the steps necessary to make contact with these people. You will probably meet a few others along the way in your quest to fulfill your Big-Talk Top 10 Challenge. Remember these people too, even if they are little people, because little people have big friends!

Put on Your Game Face!

As published in the June Business Connector
By : Kurtis Bell, ServiceMaster by Bell, Inc.  kurtis.smbybell@gmail.com

It’s a phrase we’ve heard over and over again from parents, coaches, and peers: “Put on your game face!”, but what does it have to do with networking? To be a great connector and an awesome networker, you have to train and prepare much like you would for sports. Somewhere along the way most of us have trained for something, whether it be a 5k, a golf league, a chess tournament, or even little league baseball. We went to the practices and learned the sport. We honed our technique to be better than we were the day before. The same needs to be done when it comes to building your social framework and networking with other professionals.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and it is no different when it comes to networking. We need to train ourselves in networking much like an athlete would train for sport. Through training we can work on building up our weaknesses as well as capitalizing on our strengths. Jackie Pizzuto, a great networker and Client Service Specialist for a financial planning firm, says: “You do have to train yourself to succeed in networking. You have to know yourself and know your strengths…you have to learn how you network best and what works for you so that it’s not a constant pain.”
Another master networker is Justin Casey, Sales Executive for the Charles P. Leach Agency. For him it is more about training the mind. His first thought at a networking event is always “Why am I better than any other person in my field, and how can I highlight that to beat out my competitors?”. He calls it his “Competitive  Advantage.”

As you can see, networking is not something that just anyone can do and be great at, but just like any sport or art, the best always make it look effortless. So keep training your mind and body to be the best networker you can be, and as famed weightlifting coach Ivan Abadjiev once said: “Never be satisfied. Never.” Always keep pushing, never become sedentary, and abandon your comfort zones. Put on your game face and I hope to see you at an upcoming mixer!

Networking Have You Feeling Uneasy, Pressured, Awkward?

As published in the July Business Connector

If you are like the majority of people, the term “networking event” may make you slightly uneasy. If you go, what is expected? Do you have to come back with a pile of business cards from people you met? Do you have to close a deal to save your job?

There is no reason to be edgy when you RSVP for a networking event, mixer, or other business function. Sure, you will probably run in to some people there that are just trying to meet as many people as possible or trying to sell you on the next greatest thing, but most are there to have a good time and socialize with like minded business people.

Next time you are gearing up for an event and feel some pressure try some of these things to take the edge off:

Be a great listener
You do not have to be a chatterbox to get the most out of your time at an event, or to build relationships with others. Ask short simple questions, then sit back and listen intently to the response. You might be surprised by the wisdom imparted on you by an unsuspecting source.

Be honest
If things are going great, let people know. If things are not going the best, express that as well. No one likes a braggart, but people will connect with you if you are honest and real. Chances are if you are experiencing an   issue, someone else has been there or is there now.

Each person has a voice
This goes hand in hand with being a great listener. Once you open your ears and acknowledge that everyone has a voice, new doors will be opened for you. Just because someone is from a completely opposite end of the business spectrum does not mean that they have nothing meaningful to offer.

Hopefully this is helpful to you and will aid in breaking down the stereotypical walls surrounding “networking events.” As always, if you have any questions or would like a few links to read in to the subject even further, just let me know. I’d be glad to help!

Until next time, Kurtis ServiceMaster by Bell, Inc. kurtis.smbybell@gmail.com