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WORKING NETWORKING GROUPS

Networking works just like those childhood “Connect-a-Dot” pictures. One person leads to another and another and, eventually, a new client or customer is revealed.    

But with all the networking groups that exist, which ones are best for you? And how can you get the most out of each mixer?

The following seven networking tips will help you not only improve business, but also make interesting new friends and acquaintances.

1. Explore your opportunities. Joining a variety of networking groups gives you access to the widest range of people. There are generally five types of groups: business networking groups, such as BNI; geographic groups, such as your local Chamber of Commerce; service groups, such as Kiwanis; "Meet-up" groups, and industry-specific associations. Don’t forget the informal community groups connected with schools, sports and theaters. Attend a group at least three times before deciding whether it’s for you.

2. Farm, don’t hunt. Don’t approach an event with the hope or expectation that you’ll make a new client right away. You’ll find more success if you view networking as a long-term process. “It’s more about farming than it is about hunting,” says Dr. Ivan Misner, co-author of Masters of Networking and founder of BNI, an international business networking group . “It’s about cultivating relationships with other people.”

3. Don’t forget your networking “accessories.” Business cards and a name tag are a given. On the latter, include your name and what you do. This gives others an easy starting point for conversation. In addition, make a habit of writing notes on the back of each business card so you can personalize your follow-up calls and emails.

4. Get curious. Be genuinely interested in the people you meet. Ask questions that aren’t limited to someone’s profession. For instance: What is one way you have fun at work? Such questions open up conversation and encourage connection on a more personal level.

5. Have your “elevator speech” down cold. Have a clear, concise, specific explanation of what you do and how it helps others. Be able to clearly articulate this without people’s eyes glazing over.

6. Offer referrals whenever possible. Focus more on what you can give to others than on what you’ll get from them. Walk into a room,  always looking at how you can benefit someone else’s life.

7. Be scrupulous with your follow-up. Meeting people is just the beginning. It’s the follow-up that turns connections into relationships. However, the first contact is not the place for a sales pitch. Instead, follow up within 48 hours with material that will help the person, such as a free audio download or a clipped magazine article. “You don’t build trust when the first thing you do is ask someone to buy your product and service,” Misner says.

The key, really, is to court. But with sincerity and a genuine desire to help others.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Ken

WHY HAPPINESS MATTERS

When you were little and the teacher asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, bet you didn’t answer “miserable!”    

At every stage in life, unhappiness is not a state to which we aspire. But with the economy rolling downhill, our jobs and businesses can seem like tiny inflatable rafts in a big scary ocean of fear. So, we hold on. But what if we have a boss who’s overly demanding and doesn’t appreciate us? Or what if our worries about sustaining business are exhausting us to the point of burnout? Or what if we just feel gloomy and don’t know why? In unstable times, it’s especially hard to know what to do when we’re unhappy in our jobs and businesses.

Happiness Matters We all have a natural capacity to derive pleasure and satisfaction from hard work. But reports from The Conference Board conclude that many of us are not happy at work. Medical evidence suggests being unhappy at work affects our memory and our capacity to learn, while increasing the risk of illness.     

On the flip side, happier people are more likely to:

• make better team players and more effective leaders.

• be more creative, confident and productive.

• have a stronger network of allies.

• require fewer days off.    

As if that wasn’t enough, here’s the clincher: happier people tend to be, well, happier.

How to Find Happy Hour on the Job If thinking about cheerful people is making you envious, here’s the good news: we can all learn to be happier. In fact, the most popular class at Harvard University is one in which students learn to train their brains to cultivate what instructor Tal Ben-Shahar calls the ultimate currency: happiness.     

Here are some tips for training your brain for happiness at work:

Celebrate success. Whether it’s the achievement of a major goal or another week where the laser printer ran smoothly, give yourself, your colleagues and your laser printer a pat on the back.

Seek meaning. Happiness at work comes from doing something that gives us pleasure and meaning. If your job currently provides neither, make sure your day or week includes some engagement in activities that do. It could be a hobby or volunteering or taking a course. Or allowing time to read a book or cook something tasty.

Think it. Happiness depends mostly upon our state of mind. It is not directly related to status or income.

Express gratitude and be generous. Be grateful for everything that makes your day better, from a colleague’s smile to your morning latte. Make it a habit to be thoughtful towards others. Give out three free compliments a day

 

 

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