Networking. At its worst, it’s an exchange of banal small talk and glad-handing that you’ve been forced into by someone who’s read a blog post about the importance of networking. At its best, though, networking can be a great opportunity to make connections that can help you—or allow you to help others.
Ultimately, networking events are what you make them. If you think they’re going to be useless ordeals, that’s what they’ll be. On the other hand, if you go into a networking event armed with good conversation skills and a positive attitude, you may find that you get more out of it than you might have thought even in your most optimistic moments.
While we can’t help you with your attitude—that’s one’s up to you—we do have some tips for improving your conversation skills and making your networking better and more successful as a result.
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Make it about them
You’ve probably been held captive by someone who talks endlessly about something you don’t care about. Don’t be the person who does that. Instead, show interest in your conversation partner’s world. Start your conversations by asking an open-ended question about the work they do or their interests. Try starting with business-oriented questions like “How did you get started in this industry?” or “What’s your favorite type of client to work with?” If the conversation goes a little farther, consider asking questions along the lines of “What’s your favorite way to celebrate success?”
Don’t be a panhandler
No, we’re not talking about the person asking for spare change on the street, but we are talking about a similar attitude. Don’t approach people with the intention of getting something out of them, but rather with sincere interest and an attitude of “what can I do to help you?” By taking a constructive stance and wanting to be of service, you actually increase the odds that something good is going to come out of your networking activities.
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Listen. Really listen.
Most people don’t listen well. They’ll hear half of what the other person is saying and immediately start forming counter-arguments or thinking of things to say in response. But people respond best when they feel heard. Pay attention when the other person is talking—make eye contact, nod, or make affirmative noises—and use “active listening” techniques like paraphrasing the other person’s view and asking for clarification if needed.
Avoid taboo topics
We all know politics and religion are topics that should not be on the table at a networking event. But did you know that there are some other, less obvious things you should avoid talking about? Don’t discuss relationship status, for example, and do avoid comments on a person’s physical appearance. You might also want to avoid discussing major purchases or other things that could signal that you are of a higher (or lower) socioeconomic status than your peers.
Use positive language
Networking events are not the time to complain about your job, your commute, or your personal life. Instead, make sure your language is inviting and not overly blunt. There’s really no down side to using positive language (just try not to be too constantly chipper because that can come off as being insincere), and it’s a great way to avoid communication problems that arise from misinterpretation of blunter language.
What tips do you have for improving your conversation skills? Please tell us in the comments.
At 2313 Inc, we value individuals that know how to communicate well. Learn more about the values and mission of 2313 Inc here: http://www.2313inc.com/2313incstory/2313inc-values-and-mission/
Good communication is the lifeblood of every successful business. Not only is it important to communicate well with your customers, it’s just as important to communicate well with your team members. If your team isn’t communicating well, they’re not working well together, and that can lead to problems with customer acquisition and retention.
Here are some easy ways to improve communication with your team:
A great way to lay the foundation for successful communication is to build rapport in your team. Try taking everyone out for lunch, and tell them there’s just one rule: no discussion of anything related to work. A casual meal in which you’re talking about things you do outside the office is a great icebreaker and helps to open the lines of communication within and between teams.
Every employee has their own way of perceiving and internalizing information. Knowing how your employees like to receive information—through email, a messenger service, an internal e-newsletter, or face to face—can help you create a better plan for regular communication. Your staff will also appreciate that you’re making the effort to maximize their productivity and understanding.
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Reach Out to Shy Employees
Not everyone is gregarious and extroverted, and that’s not a bad thing. Take the time to reach out to your quieter team members and show a genuine interest in them and their work. Be ready for your outreach to take a while before it achieves results; people don’t become shy overnight, so their shyness isn’t going to disappear overnight, either.
Make People’s Roles Clear from the Start
Communication can break down pretty quickly if team members don’t understand what their role is. Keep workflows transparent, make sure each team member understands how they contribute to the success of the project or the company, and be sure they know what channels the project has to go through for approval and completion.
Have One-on-Ones with Your Team Members
A weekly 10-minute check-in with your direct reports can make a world of difference. The check-in will give and your team members a chance to discuss issues and ask questions that may be better addressed outside a group setting. It can also provide a way to bring up performance or attendance concerns before they reach a crisis point.
Explain the Reason for the Ask
It may seem silly, but it’s quite possible that a team member may not know why you’re asking them to do something. Instead of assigning a task with no context, help your team member to understand the value and significance of the task you’ve asked them to do. Not only will it help the person to feel like that they’re doing something important, it will go a long way to helping them understand their role in the company.
Offer Constructive Feedback
Focus on the behavior rather than the person’s character. For example, if you see that a team member is frustrated or struggling, give them some tips on how they can meet their goals and ask what you can do to help. And, of course, allow your team member to share their thoughts and be a part of the solution to any problems you may be facing.
Effective communication lays a foundation for success, both for your company and for individual team members. It can be time-consuming to establish or improve communication, but it’s worth the effort. If you put in the work, you’re bound to reap the rewards.
Improving society is a core value of many companies doing business today. CEOs and employees have learned that a work culture committed to philanthropy also improves their bottom line. It’s true—social responsibility is good for business. Here’s how:
- It improves public perception of the company, resulting in heightened company trust
- It allows employees to gain a wider perspective of the world and understand how the skills they have gained can translate across many areas of their lives
- It personifies the company into a force for change and good, not simply a for-profit endeavor
- It gives the company a competitive edge in the market
- It cultivates greater employee satisfaction and loyalty
Employees today have a greater opportunity to make a difference in their communities by finding volunteering opportunities at work. For example, 2313 Inc’s support of Operation Smile allows the team to contribute to philanthropic causes and make a difference on a global scale. Our work with Operation Smile provides a positive example of social responsibility to our clients, employees, and business professionals.
Every employee has valuable skills to offer nonprofit organizations, from the ability to take photos at events, to making children laugh during medical missions, to organizing fundraisers. By offering their particular strengths and resources, employees can make a meaningful contribution to those in need.
A company’s public image can be swayed with of its social responsibility programs and how aware the public is about those programs. Anyone will usually say they feel more comfortable supporting a company that does its part to help with the community and support humanitarian work. It’s worth letting the public know about the great projects and charities you support. Companies can even improve their public image by supporting nonprofits through fundraisers, volunteering, and strong partnerships. By promoting these efforts and letting the public know about their support, companies increase their chances of becoming favorable in the eyes of consumers.
Anyone in the company can make a difference and contribute in his or her own way. If you’re interested in making a difference in the lives of people in need, start your search at work. You may find a program that will be happy to have your support.
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Rejection hurts. There is no way to avoid it. Your first step is to acknowledge the rejection–but don’t dwell on it. Convert that rejection into motivation. Here are some strategies that will keep you moving forward.
1. Don’t Expect Rejection
Anticipating rejection can lead to procrastination. Reaching out to a customer can be scary. But then again…what if you’re just what that customer needs when they need it? Don’t let the fear keep you from putting your best foot forward!
2. Establish Clear Goals
Have you created a clear set of goals? Get specific about all of your goals. Establish daily, weekly, and monthly goals. If you need help setting goals, consult your team members or supervisor.
3. Create A Work Routine
Create a work routine. Make customer contacts at the same time every day. As you improve your skills, you’ll reach more people. The more people you reach each day, the greater your chances of getting to “yes.”
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4. It’s Not About You
Don’t take the easy way out by making rejection personal. Learn to see each rejection as an opportunity to understand something about yourself.
5. No Doesn’t Mean Never
Once you hear a “no,” acknowledge it and continue talking. If you don’t have what your customer needs, you may know someone who does. Be a useful resource. You’re establishing and maintaining a long-term relationship.
6. Start With a Smile
Start your day by visualizing success. Picture your customers saying “yes.” Sometimes a positive attitude is all you really need to get that sale squared away.
7. Toughen Up
You can’t take a break every time you get a rejection. You need to toughen up and build up your endurance. Rejection is a great teacher if you learn to see it as motivation.
8. Ask for Feedback
Always ask for feedback when you’ve been rejected. If you don’t understand why it happened, you won’t know how to prevent it from happening the next time.
9. Keep Moving
Working with purpose prevents rejection from moving in and taking over. Choose to get things done. Organize your workspace. Finish up tasks you were putting off. Taking constructive action will improve your attitude.
2313 Inc. is committed to helping entry-level business professionals find success in all they do. Be sure to follow us on Facebook for our latest company updates and announcements: https://www.facebook.com/2313incbusiness/
Great managers aren’t just born overnight. Sure, some people naturally possess some of the skills necessary to excel at management, but most great managers are great because they have years of experience and learning on their side.
What can you do to prepare yourself for a management position? Learn and practice the necessary skills – no matter where you are in your career. Peter Drucker, a well-known management consultant and educator, is considered the father of management studies. He broke the manager’s duties down into five basic tasks:
1. Sets Objectives
3. Motivates and Communicates
5. Develops People
Encourage employees and sales associates to develop their understanding of business and management practices. Drucker’s management tasks inspired the following tips that will teach you to think and work as a manager, no matter where you are in your career.
Learn more about a career at 2313 Inc. on the 2313 Inc. Careers page.
Keep Developing Management Skills
There’s always something new to learn about management and business. Keep your skills sharp by reading new management books or even finding online classes to improve your management skills. Then, create a study group at work to support and apply what you learn to real-world problems. You know the old saying: practice makes perfect!
Connect With Your Team
Tell your team members, team leader, and supervisor that you want to contribute to your team’s growth. Come up with a pitch for a team-building activity, a volunteer project, or a social event that will improve team cohesion and productivity.
Find a Mentor
Some companies have formal mentorship programs, though that’s not completely necessary in order to find a mentor. Your supervisor might be interested in mentoring you, or you can look for a mentor at a networking event. Mentorship will improve your management expertise and develop strong professional relationships, which you can use as resources once you become a manager.
Don’t Keep Your Career Goals a Secret
How will you advance in your career if you don’t tell anyone about your goals? Let your supervisor know that you’re interested in becoming a manager. Complete your regular assignments and volunteer for special projects when you have the time to do them well to show that you’re willing to go above and beyond.
Becoming a manager will help you to advance in your career and develop the skills you need as a leader. Make a commitment to your future by using these strategies to increase your skills and your opportunities for advancement.
We are 2313 Inc., changing the way businesses acquire and retain clients. Learn more at http://2313inc.com/
It’s always fun watching movies we can relate to professionally. Many films have made a major impact on pop-culture and the way our society views the “prototypical salesman.” Sales is not easy work, but it’s the best crash course in succeeding within business. Here are six movies (and a TV show) that everyone in the sales world should be watching.
The Pursuit of Happyness
This one takes a different approach and shows the positives in a sales career. The protagonist uses his role as a sales professional to teach his son valuable lessons in hard work, perseverance and determination.
Death of a Salesman
Arthur Miller’s famous play features Willy Loman, the salesman who just can’t catch a break. While this story is more about failure and the inability to adapt and change, it’s also about the power of persuasion, and how some people, like Loman, just aren’t made for the world of sales. It’s a sad tale about what can happen when you’re in over your head, even when you have the right tools.
Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gekko taught us that “greed is good” because you’ll work hard for what you want. “Wall Street” show us how the love of money can bring down great men, but also leaves us with a ton of memorable sales tips and valuable one-liners.
This is a comedy about two rival salesmen who are unscrupulous in both sales and life. They find success in the corrupt and shady world of Aluminum Siding sales, but that comes to a halt when the Home Improvement Commission begins cracking down on sleazy sales practices. It’s humorous look on the shoddy world of sales past and how sleazy salesmen adapted to change.
Glengarry Glen Ross
Desperate salesmen wade through the waters of a Chicago-based real estate firm, learning just how hard it is to stay ahead of the game. This film is gritty and tough to watch for those who’ve experienced the harsh reality of sales. Glengarry gave us a good look into the lives of both good and bad salespeople, and it also taught us the golden rule: Always Be Closing.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Like “Wall Street,” this is another look into the shady sales practices on the trading floor and just how far some will go to make that deal. Based on a true story, this film show us just how jaded one can become when money is the ultimate goal. It also shows us the power of a good pitch, even when selling something as simple as pen.
No, this isn’t a movie, but this television phenomenon brings us to the world of 1960s advertising, where personality, contacts and knowing how to close a deal were just as important then as they are now.
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