Network Like the Pro You Are

Networking – ugh! It can feel so fake and weird.  What to do? Network like a pro with these tips for:

  • Before the event
  • During the even
  • After you network
Up your networking game with a plan for before, during, and after the event. #networking #trueyou Click To Tweet

Before

Have a plan.

Know what you want to get out of the networking event. Is it a recommendation for a vendor (general contractor, anyone?), or a lead for a job, or an idea for a blog topic?

Know your elevator speech.

It doesn’t have to be long & involved (in fact, it shouldn’t be). Write it down, and practice saying it a zillion times until you get the words just the way you want them. Include what you do, who you serve, and the results your clients/customers get. This is a great approach, whether you work for a large firm, small organization, or you’re an entrepreneur.

Know what you’ll wear.

I know, I know, but it’s important. You want to wear something that’s comfortable and also is consistent with the personal brand you want to portray. Make sure it doesn’t require any major adjusting when you sit down or stand up or write on a business card (because you will be doing all of those things while networking).

During

Look at the person you’re talking to.

Nobody wants to see your eyes darting around the room, looking for someone More Important and/or Cooler Than You. Seriously. The person in front of you is the most important one at that moment, so treat them like it.

Be curious.

Ask interesting questions that will help you get to know your network-ee better. “What do you do?”: not interesting. “What’s the toughest problem your industry is facing right now?” or “What’s the best thing about working where you do?”: more interesting. And more likely to get authentic answers.

Carry a pen.

This will come in handy – you can write a little note on any business cards you collect with any follow-up action the moment you’re done networking with your person (who you’ve looked at, not annoyingly, the entire time you’ve talked with them). A side note, if you’re getting new business cards made, make sure they’re easy to write on.

After

Know how you’ll capture your information.

I have an app on my phone that lets me scan a business card, and it’ll automatically load it to my business software. That’s a huge time-saver for me! But you can also keep the paper cards in a file or hand-enter information into your address book. Whatever works for you!

Have a follow-up plan.

You won’t need to take action with every single business connection you make, but you’ll definitely have some. It might be sharing a link to a lecture you spoke about or an article you discussed, or it could be adding someone to your newsletter list (note: that’s only cool if you have their express permission). Maybe it’s setting up a phone call.

Whatever your little scribblings on people’s cards say, make sure you have time the day after the event – or the day of, if you can – to do your follow up. Being meticulous about your follow up will put you well ahead of most people, and will help you add “a person of their word” to your personal brand.

What’s your favorite networking tip? Tell us in the comments below!

Use the Power of a Mastermind to Supercharge Your Success

I’m in Asheville, NC this week for a mastermind group, and it’s SO awesome!

What is a mastermind, you ask?

Simply put, it’s a group of sort-of like-minded people who gather together with a shared purpose and help each other solve problems. My mastermind is a group of (mostly) women entrepreneurs who run their businesses with a focus on connecting with our clients on a deeper level.

Want to supercharge your performance? Join a mastermind, and expand your success through the power of your network. #mastermind Click To Tweet

I love coming to Asheville once a quarter to work on my business and myself! Here are the top 3 reasons:

  • Community
  • Development
  • Collaboration

Community

Since many entrepreneurs are solo practitioners, having a sense of community and belonging can be a rare thing. Masterminds, like the one I participate in, are a great place to meet up with folks who are in similar situations, and who face similar challenges and triumphs.

We share best practices, our favorite apps and systems solutions, as well as stories of our successes (and things that haven’t worked the way we’ve planned).

I mean, who, besides another entrepreneur, can appreciate the delight of putting an automated invoicing system in place? Or landing a first client? Our shared experiences help us build a strong community.

Development

Another common practice in masterminds is to provide development opportunities so members can learn new things.

Mine focuses on both the tactics and emotional perspective of running successful businesses, and while I have an MBA, there’s a “been there; done that” practical side of the things I’m learning in my mastermind that I haven’t found anywhere else.

Setting aside 3 days every quarter to learn, reflect, and reset my mindset has been invaluable as I’ve built my business.

Collaboration

Another feature of masterminds is the opportunity to use the power of the collective to solve individual problems.

In my mastermind, we take a half day of every retreat to gather in small groups, present our challenges, and get tips on how to tackle them from our peers. Getting diverse perspectives from entrepreneurs who run businesses that range from corporate innovation consulting, to yoga studios, to musicians, to tour guides can be highly productive.

And knowing there’s a group of people who really want you (and your business) to flourish…that’s priceless.

Have you participated in a mastermind? Or would you like to? Let us know in the comments below.

Joy, Gratitude, and Abundance…at Work

I see a lot of people working hard in their personal lives at getting more joy, gratitude, and abundance. Which is AWESOME. But why limit it to your personal life? What is possible when joy, gratitude, and abundance come to work with you?

How do you get more joy, gratitude, and abundance at work? It's easy! #joy #gratitude #abundance Click To Tweet

Joy

Hearing a baby laughing, watching your dog play, smelling freshly-baked cookies, can all bring a sense of delight. But those are most likely to happen away from work rather than at work. What can bring joy there, especially when you’re having a rough time of it? Try stacking up some micro-joy at work by seeing things that light you up, getting outside, and being a little silly.

Make sure you have images that make you smile – of your favorite people, places, and things – where you can catch glimpses of them during the workday. My favorite “glimpse-catchers” are my phone & computer screen savers, bulletin boards, on my desk, and inside a notebook.

You can also change your environment at work, even temporarily. It’s great to get more light, and to get outside if you can. (Ever have a walking meeting? They’re great!)

Play, acting silly, or elsewise being a goofball, can bring you joy, too. Share your kid’s favorite knock-knock joke, wear silly socks, or waltz down the hall, and give yourself a dose of joy.

Gratitude

Gratitude at work can sometimes feel a little awkward. But as more and more people practice thankfulness in the workplace, it makes it SO much nicer to be at work! And it’s a huge part of compassion, a key leadership skill.

Should I thank someone for doing the job that their employer already pays for? (Yes. Full stop.)

Is it super-weird to write a thank you note at work? (No. But it is rare, and it’ll help you stand out. If it’s consistent with your personal brand — who you want to be seen as at work — go for it!)

Is it dumb to write about work stuff in my gratitude journal? (Absolutely not. But don’t force it. Forcing it is dumb.)

Abundance

Scarcity, rather than abundance, is the norm at work. We never seem to have enough time, resources, or even patience to accomplish what we’d like to. How, then, to bring abundance into the work environment? The best place to start is a mindset shift.

One of my favorite sayings is, “you can do anything, you just can’t do everything.” Bringing focus and intention to your work can free you to do anything (abundance thinking).

Competition, a la Highlander (“there can be only one!”) is the ultimate scarcity thinking. By encouraging collaboration and shared goals, it’s possible for your entire team to succeed. At the same time. Yes!

Need more joy, gratitude, and abundance at work? What will be your first step to getting it? Tell us in the comments below!

“Joyful,” by Ingrid Fetell Lee: Book Review

You may wonder why on earth a coach and management consultant chose a book on joy to review. In my practice, the topic of increasing and enhancing joy comes up over and over – both for my leadership coaching clients and for the companies I consult with.

So I got curious about joy, and picked up Joyful, by designer Ingrid Fetell Lee. In the book, she details ten esthetics of joy: energy, abundance, freedom, harmony, play, surprise, transcendence, magic, celebration, and renewal.

What's the key to becoming more joyful? Check my book review of Ingrid Fetell Lee's book, 'Joyful.' #joyful #abundance #celebration #bookreview Click To Tweet

I’ve split them into categories: visual, feeling, and experience, although all of these have elements of all three.

Visual

We take in tons of visual cues that can literally shift our moods to become more joyful and expansive. Fetell Lee talks about color studies showing higher positive energy and substantially less crime when vibrant paint colors are used in schools and in crime-ridden urban areas.

Seeing abundance (tons of the same thing together, like a bouncy ball pit) and harmony (balance and symmetry, as with chorus line dancers and snowflakes) also trigger deep satisfaction for us.

Feeling

In addition to visual cues, things we feel can bring joy. Freedom, which we feel by being in open spaces or in nature (or by taking off high-heeled shoes, in my opinion!), helps people feel happier, as does transcendence, which Fetell Lee uses to describe the feeling of being up high or feeling lighter than air.

And play, whether it’s in the form of organized games or just goofing off brings joy, too.

Experience

Experiencing surprise (like from a jack-in-the-box), contrast (like rainbow-striped socks paired with a business suit), or whimsy (like a plastic flamingo in a front yard), can break us out of our routines and create pops of excitement. Same goes for anything that appears to be magical.

And Joyful shows that both the act of celebration and renewal (blossoming, growth, and newness) spark happiness and delight.

Joyful also includes deep questions and worksheets at the end of the book designed to help you understand the specifics of joy to you – don’t miss those!

The one piece that feels like it’s missing from Joyful is relationships. For me, they bring the most joy of all! Better understanding the things that spark bliss in you can help you in your quest for becoming more joyful.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of joy? Share it with us in the comments below.

You’re Keeping a Gratitude Journal…Now What?

The simple act of keeping a gratitude journal has the power to change your life, but did you know it can do so much more? You can get even more from your gratitude journal by reflecting on what you’re grateful for and taking actions based on it.

You keep a Gratitude Journal, so what's next? #gratitude #reflection #connection Click To Tweet

Reflection

It’s time to take out your journal and look through it. You can do this practice once a week, once a month, once a quarter, or once a year. Whatever makes sense for you.

As you take a look back, jot some notes on what you’re seeing. Are there common themes? What really lit you up? Did you notice times when you wrote more or less? What was going on for you then?

Inspection

Take a look at your notes, and think about what you’re seeing. And not seeing. What areas of your life have brought you joy over the period? What areas of your life didn’t get any/many gratitude entries?

When I went through this exercise, I found that there were more entries about my dog Jeffrey than I expected. There were lots more about my kids, but I expected that!

Selection

When you think of what you’ve learned so far, what jumps out at you as needing more attention? It could be something that brought you lots of joy and you want to double-down to get even more. Or it might be an area of your life where you’d like to light up your gratitude center.

Pick your one thing to focus on.

Direction

Now, it’s time to take action. Maybe it’s something you want to accomplish; maybe it’s a new habit you want to adopt; maybe it’s getting better work-life balance. Whatever it is, make a plan, and take your first step!

Connection

Share your plans – and practice – with others. When you state your intentions out loud for others to hear, it makes them more real. The simple act of voicing your plans can help you keep more accountable to them.

My friend and fellow coach, John Poelstra, started his “life-changing” gratitude journal practice last April, and he now encourages his clients to do the same thing. It’s a virtuous cycle!

Don’t let your gratitude practice stop with your journal. Take action on what you find there, and see what’s possible for you!

What did you find in your gratitude journal? Tell us about it in the comments below!