Tag: Networking

Disconnect to Connect: Tried-and-True Benefits of Building Offline Relationships

One week ago, I was in Chicago and had the chance to catch a soccer game, take a water taxi and eat deep-dish pizza with two friends from high school. A few days later, I met up with another high school friend, realizing our paths have crossed so many years later. Reminded of my last visit to Chicago, I reached out to two college friends who I caught up with then. While in Chicago, I exchanged emails with a college friend in California and we shared our current appreciation of the entrepreneurial spirit. Near the end of the week, I had lunch with a former colleague and on the walk back, I ran into a friend from college who I haven’t seen in year. To close out the week, I attended a reggae concert where I ran into four other friends from college.

All of these encounters caught my attention and reminded me about the importance of people and connecting. In the digital age, it is easy to tweet, text, or write on someone’s wall but there are still benefits to stepping away from technology and connecting in person.

Here are some tried-and-true benefits of disconnecting to connect:

Human interaction calls for making time.  The human experience is optimized when we spend time with others. At its essence, the human experience is about sharing our lives; our successes are that much sweeter when we celebrate with our supporters.  This is why we like birthdays, cake and food; they all bring people together and make for a feel-good experience.  So when it comes to getting to know others and building relationships, real-life interaction provides a holistic and multi-dimensional approach that online doesn’t.  In addition to carrying on a conversation as you can digitally, it offers spontaneous, unedited and less contrived elements that help you see different sides of a person.

Showing up counts.  It takes an additional level of effort to show up and be present.  And a track record of consistently showing up for your friends, family and colleagues holds a lot of weight and speaks for itself.  If you’re consistently dependable, trustworthy, supportive and reliable, you’ll easily come to mind as their go-to person who always comes through. When the day comes that you may need a favor, they won’t hesitate to lend a helping hand.

Become part of the inner circle faster.  There’s a reason why meeting friends and family early in a relationship serves as classic milestones.  Inherently, we like to have a stamp of approval from those who mean a lot to us and whose opinions we value.  The same goes for platonic friends and professional colleagues; and taking your connections offline allow you to do this.  Once you get approval, you’re more likely to include new people in our activities, thereby bringing them into your circle faster.

Create a support network.  By building relationships, you increase the probability of creating mutually supportive networks.  Give first before you even think of taking and others will be inclined to do the same for you.  Overtime, you’ll become top-of-mind to people with whom you’ve cultivated shared trust, admiration and respect.

What is your experience with your online relationships versus those you build offline?  Do they develop in the same way?

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5 Places and Events that Facilitate Networking Opportunities

We’ve heard that networking is one way to circumvent the traditional approaching to becoming employed.  But unbeknownst to many, networking is more than the new way to get a job.  In fact, once you’ve been hired, networking can help you get placed on the right projects and with people who will help you grow professionally and succeed. Similarly, when you’re ready for your next move, networking can help you pivot.

With days ran by long to-do lists, conference calls, and meetings, you’re probably wondering where you’ll find time and opportunities to network. But just as you would create a plan for important tasks, you can do the same for your networking goals by setting aside times and places to make it happen. Here are a few places:

Conferences – National or regional conferences provide great opportunities to network with others.  If you’re attending a conference that’s specific to your industry, it is a great way to meet others with similar expertise and who may be a resource if you have a technical question. Or if you’re attending a conference for a common interest such as blogging, you can build a network and can help each other grow your blogging community.

Alumni events – It warms my heart when I come across Wharton and Penn alumni.  It happens so frequently and most recently while I was traveling in Canada!  With that common bond and having “grown up” in the same place and having shared similar experiences that have since shaped our lives, I’m especially willing to help and support my fellow alums.

Boards – Non-profit or advisory boards provide a great opportunity for you to meet people who are accomplished in their respective fields and are passionate enough about a cause to lend their skills and expertise.  Working with them for a common cause, they learn about your work ethics and will be able to speak first-hand about your credentials.

Clubs and community organizations – Coming together to play a game of volleyball or soccer with individuals who are nostalgic about their athletic youth is a great way to stay active. At the same time, you’ll be actively expanding your networking and meeting people who you may not run into with your normal routine.

Training events – Training events bring together people who are interested in improving themselves whether it is rooted in professional development, technological skills or general self-improvement.  These individuals are usually very interested in sharing ideas and strategies and having an accountability partner to help them follow through after the training.  Therefore, this presents a great opportunity to continue the conversation and expand your network over time.

What places and events help you the most when you’re looking to expand your network?  Are they places and events that are part of your normal routine? Or do you go out of your way to network? Share your experiences below!

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6 Skills Women Should Master For Success in Business and Life

What does success mean to you?  Does it mean reaching a certain status in society?  Is it associated with making a certain amount of money?  Is it having a certain title in your professional life?  Does it mean simply being happy in life?  I’ve come across a plethora of definitions and quotes that shed light on success and I’ve shared these on Twitter and Facebook.  Here are a few of my recent favorites:

 “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” – Maya Angelou

” Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph.” – Zig Ziglar

“Success is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.” – Jim Rohn

No matter how you personally define success, being active about making it happen is crucial.  Pablo Picasso put this nicely by saying:

“Action is the foundational key to all success.”

So with this in mind, I’ve put together a list of actionable items that women can apply in order to take control about our own success.  We’re arguably not as aggressive as men are about creating our own path but with knowing what to do and practice, this can change.

Be comfortable in your own skin.  It is easier to go with the status quo and this approach generally makes others feel more comfortable.  But taking this route, you risk not being true to yourself.  It is important to take the time to reflect on who you are, what you’re about and take ownership of it.   The list of outside pressures and influences is long but once you are firm in your stance, everything else tends to fall in place.

Know your stuff.   You want your qualifications and track record to hold their own weight.  Always do your research and know the facts.  If you have a presentation, anticipate what questions others could ask so you’re ahead of the game.  Always strive to perform a level above where you are.  This gives others confidence in your ability to step up and take on additional roles and responsibilities.  As always, luck favors the prepared.

Executive presence.  Having a presence isn’t something that comes automatically once you move into the corner office.  In fact, it takes practice and it is never too early to begin.  Take pride in your poise, dress and presentation.  Pay attention to detail so that your intention with your first impression is always successful and helps close the deal.  Always make eye contact when you’re speaking with others and

Nail down your elevator pitch.  You never know who you will meet or when.  As an extension to that, you never know who is who when you first meet.  You may expect to meet “important” people at networking events, but you may run into a seemingly average, but influential, person at the bus stop as they run errands on their day off.  At all times, you want be able to clearly and concisely communicate who you are and what you do.  Thirty seconds from the 27th floor to the ground level may be all the time you have.

Ask for what you want.  Most people don’t do a good job of raising their hand when they need help.  We can make it on our own but the journey is more tough and much more lonely.  There is great joy in sharing your good days and successes with others.  It is especially rewarding when these are people who have a vested interest in and have contributed in your success.  People love to feel like they’re making an impact and helping others.  But the fact is, they aren’t given the opportunity to do so if you carry on in silence, don’t share what you’re doing and don’t initiate the conversation to get their input.

Support each other.  We have an automatic network with other women.  And we should leverage that to build and encourage each other.  Invite a group of women to go see a play or attend a charity events.  If one of the women has an art exhibit, take the lead in inviting others to support her by attending with you.  In general, the idea is to be proactive and create environments where you and everyone else can succeed.

What do you do to play an active role in your own success?  How do you and other women support each other?  What are some additional skills that you think women can benefit from?

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