Tag: Networking

4 Ways You Are Limiting Yourself on LinkedIn

LinkedIn claims to be the “world’s largest professional network” and it is hard to deny that.  A LinkedIn profile has become the electronic version of one’s resume. In addition to that, it allows you to highlight your personality and, as an extension of you,  is a hub for your professional network.  It allows you to create and build professional relationships and facilitates the sharing of knowledge and insight via articles and group discussions.  TheAfter5Edge - 4 Ways You Are Limiting Yourself on LinkedIn

If you take advantage of it, it is a powerful tool that can enhance your professional situation. But are you taking full advantage of it?

Here are 4 ways you may be limiting yourself on LinkedIn:

1. You’re not taking advantage of opportunities to continue the conversation

How many times do you connect with someone on LinkedIn and the communication ends there?  You press “Send invitation” or “Accept” and then there’s silence.  Networks like LinkedIn make it easy to connect with others beyond your geographic location but maintaining that relationship comes with time and effort on your part.  This is the same was with offline relationships.  Make an effort to continue the conversation with your connections by touching base throughout the year, find out what they’re up to, find out what issues they could use help with and what their latest accomplishments are. Go a little deeper than waiting for periodic updates on your homepage.

2. You’re uncomfortable selling yourself

Many of us, especially women, have been taught to be humble and to not brag.  But is it bragging if you’re simply stating a fact?  I’d agree that how tact is applied affects how the information you’re sharing about yourself is perceive.  So provided it is done gracefully, I think it is important to share your achievements. At the very least, we’re each responsible for being our biggest proponent and supporter.  If you’re not able to exhibit confidence in yourself and your abilities, how do you expect sponsors to feel comfortable vouching for you at the decision-making table? It all starts with you. And if you don’t share your progress with those around you, the world may never know about the impact you’re making day-to-day.

3. You’re unsure about when it is appropriate to interact with “professional” contacts

If you feel this way, you’re not alone.  This is especially the case with contacts who appear to be on LinkedIn strictly for business.  They may be the same ones you’ll hear making comments about the frivolity of social media.  Yes, LinkedIn is a professional network and often, it is the next step after a networking event. But sharing knowledge, insight, engaging, building relationships and creating opportunities are all part of maintaining your professional network. You just have to be mindful that the information that’s appropriate for LinkedIn may be different from what you’d share on Facebook, Pinterest, etc.  For example, interacting with your contacts around articles on leadership, industry trends and technology will likely be appropriate if it is along their purpose for being on LinkedIn.

4. You’re not participating in relevant and timely discussions 

Many people like to wait until they feel like they’re an “expert” to contribute.  While you’re perfecting their expertise, time is passing and the topic you’re passionate about is taking a different turn.  Timeliness and relevance are important when it comes to providing valuable  feedback.  Therefore, if you have a point of view that you’re able to support, it is important to share.  Your contribution may be the fresh new approach that others who have been addressing the topic may need.  If you feel so inspired, comment on articles and statuses and join the discussion in groups on LinkedIn.  You never know who you will help with your commentary or who will see your comment and feel compelled to reach out to you to continue the conversation.

Are these limitations relevant to you?  What are opportunities that LinkedIn provides that you haven’t taken advantage of?  For the opportunities that you’ve taken advantage of, how have they helped you?   

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What To Do Within 48 Hours Of A Networking Event

You made the effort to attend a networking event, even if you didn’t know anyone who would be there and that thought made you uncomfortable.  You forced yourself out of your comfort zone and walked around the room to meet people.  With time, you got into a groove and solidified how to begin and end conversations and also how to transition conversations into introductions.  Now you’re home and you’re glad you went.  You met some interesting people, identified synergies and had some great conversations.

So what happens now?

You’ve heard the importance of networking and looking for ways to grow and foster your network.  You’ve also had a lot of guidance on how to prepare for and what to do during networking events.  But do you know what you should focus on within 48 hours of a networking event?

Here is a to-do list to ensure you ride out the momentum from a networking event and build your relationships on a strong foundation:

Take notes.  While the conversations you had are still fresh in your mind, go through the business cards you obtained and make some quick notes on the back with key information about the person and topics discussed.  Make note of what they do, things that are of interest to them and what they need help with.

Do Research.  Take the initiative to deepen your understanding of the person, there involvement in various activities and find common grounds. These days, it is easy to find additional information on others on sites like LinkedIn and via personal or business websites. There is only so much you can fit into a short networking conversation so leverage these other means to your advantage.

Reach out.  Continue the conversation by reaching out via email or phone.  Let them know it was a pleasure meeting them, you enjoyed the conversation, and we’re happy to help in the event you can be helpful.

Reinforce your value.  Share an article or resource that is an extension of where your conversation left off.  Show that you can provide value to your new contact and that you can help them with their top-of-mind items.

Connect on social networks.  Let social networks help you continue the conversation.  Follow your new contact on LinkedIn or Twitter.  If they’re sharing interesting content, retweet it to share with your followers.  Acknowledge them in a tweet for what they do and what you’ve learned from them.

Extend an invitation to meet.  Take the initiative in deepening the relationship by meeting in person so you to know them better and can also discuss projects  you’re both working on and how you can help each other.  This could be over coffee or a cultural or sporting event.

Offer to introduce them to others.  Do the heavy lifting in helping them expand their network by introducing them to people who could be of help.  This will help establish you as someone who is well connected and as a go-to person if they’re looking to meet a certain type of person at a later date.

Your timeliness in acting after a networking event is crucial and lifts some of the weight in terms of how much time and energy it takes.  The faster you get to know the person at a deeper level and create a genuine relationship, the more flexibility you’ll have in continuing the conversation with them.  So take advantage of the momentum and create a bridge to what happens next.

Have you used a similar approach after your networking events?  How has it been helpful?  Are there additional things that you do to build your relationship with new contacts?  Share your comments below!

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16 Ways To Proactively Make Any Year Your Best

 

 

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In the spirit of professional and personal development, we always aspire to add more to the foundation we’ve already created.  How can we be better? How can we do more?  How can we have more of an impact? How can we make more time for ourselves?

I truly believe that taking the time upfront to create a plan for and enacting systems in our lives makes a huge difference.  If you’re looking for a new year of positive change and you’re ready to take the steps that will help you get there, here are 16 ways to get started.

1. Reflect. Set aside some quiet time to think. Remove yourself from all distractions and enjoy the stillness. Focus on yourself and your journey; in your mind, revisit how far you’ve come and imagine where you’re headed.

2. Set goals.  Whether they relate to vacation plans, saving or professional development, goals give us something to look forward to and they ignite our spirit.  They require work and effort but we secretly enjoy that.  At the end of the day they’re ours and give us a sense of accomplishment because we picked them, committed to them, and followed through with earning them.  As humans, we aspire to have purpose and meaning in life; and goals are a manageable and tactile way to do this, one at a time.

3. Create a plan.  Forward-thinking businesses take a considerable amount of time to plan. This includes both long-term and short-term. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t do the same.

4. Create a vision board.  They say that seeing is believing.  This is particularly relevant as it relates to your aspirations when you take your ideas and visions from abstract things in your head and giving them form and shape that you can see.  If you can place them visually, then you’re more likely to create a space for them in your future.

5. Create an advisory board.  Yes, this is for yourself. I believe that you’re important enough to have one.  We never have all the answers ourselves, and it is important to know who to go to when you have questions.  Enlist a group of people who have been there, are vested in your success and who you can learn from.

6. Find an accountability partner.  You’re not alone on this road called life.  I know it feels that way sometimes but there’s a traffic jam of people trying to get somewhere. You and your friends may be getting off at different exits, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be there for each other when you need a jumpstart.  Your eyes are on the road ahead but check up on others who are dear to you periodically to see how they’re coming along in their lane and help them ensure they’ll make their anticipated arrival time.

7. Create a budget.  A lot of people run from numbers. I happen to like them! I always have.  I find a lot of truth in them and they always bring a story full circle.  This isn’t just for businesses as the same underlying principles apply to our personal lives.  Each of us can calculate our net worth.  Numbers help create flexibility in the non-financial aspects of our lives.  If flexibility is important to you, start by creating a budget you will commit to.

8. Prioritize friends and family.  Our journey isn’t as much fun when we don’t have people who care to share it with.  We are happy when we see our loved ones smiling and happy. Make time for them, travel to see them, call them, swap joyful and painful stories with them and make memories with them.  I believe that we create some of our most meaningful experiences and memories with friends and family.

9. Initiate conversations.  Make it a point to find out about the people around you when you’re at the bus stop, in the beloved middle seat on an airplane or at a networking event.  It is easy to forget a simple “How are you doing?” when we’re in a rush to get somewhere or with something pressing on our radar.  But some of my biggest life takeaways came from unexpected conversations with strangers.  When I was 16 and volunteering at the library, I was speaking with a woman and told her how I wished I had siblings. She told me all I needed to do was make good friends.  This advice holds true to this day as some of my best friends are like siblings to me, and in fact, I call them that.  I made it a point to mention networking event because after business cards are exchanged and elevator speeches are given, it is the ability to relate to others on a fundamentally human level that sustains relationships and this comes before the best business deals are made.

10. Keep learning.  Do you remember how caught up you were with each new toy you received as a child?  We like things that are new, exciting, shiny and that challenge us.  I don’t remember the last time I read a reference manual.  I prefer the hand-on and experiential approach of learning-by-doing.  We live in an age where learning is fun because of the number of tools available to bring information to us.  We can customize our delivery by form, time, method, origin, etc. with minimal effort.  That is exciting and a great facilitator for continuous learning.

11. Find your niche.  It is highly rewarding and empowering when you can find a space in this world where you thrive.  A place where you have no fear of competition or anyone upstaging you because you’re at your peak performance there.  This is where your strengths, knowledge and passion align.  You’re leading the edge and even if there are challenges and continuous effort involved, you’re motivated to go the extra distance.  When you find that space that you can call your own, you’re more likely to be of value, impactful, and create a legacy.

12. Give back.  It is never too early to do this and you’re never without sufficient resources to share with others.  This doesn’t have to be in a financial form as it can also be with time, knowledge or a helping hand.  I’m sure someone went out if their way to help you at some point.  I know many did for me and years after, I remember and acknowledge their selflessness.  Be the timely guiding light that someone else may be seeking.

13. Make time for a hobby.  You may have something that you’ve always loved doing or maybe you’re open to trying something completely new.  Either way, participating in activities outside of your typical day help you bring new approaches and perspectives to your day-to-day activities.  Not only will it be personally rewarding but it can also lead to you being more well-rounded.

14. Go places and see things.  Have you visited your local museums lately?  When will you take that cruise you’ve been planning?  Our world is so eclectic that we can live completely different lives from others who are ten minutes away but it is still small enough that we can experience the lives of those who are 2,000 miles away.  We learn a lot about ourselves and appreciate how we fit in the big picture better when we have additional perspectives and varying points of views to anchor our own.

15. Take risks.  When I’m in an art studio, I have to channel my inspiration in order to bring form to a blank canvas.  So with that same approach, I’m a big proponent of stretching ourselves for development which usually involves the willingness to step out if our comfort zone.  But I’m a logical person, and it has to be within reason.  So I find calculated risks to be a good balance.  Get a sense of what you’ll do, how you’ll do it and then do it.

16. Pivot and make changes.  When we take the first step, there is no guarantee as to how things will turn out.  Even when we’re headed in the right direction, the circumstances around us may change beyond our control.  What we can control is how we respond and the additional steps we take.  When necessary, make lateral moves, and even take steps backwards, to get further ahead.  Be open to making necessary changes along your journey.

Have you tried a similar approach to achieve your goals or achieve certain results? How do you create an environment that facilitates your success?

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