We live in a society and, as a member of that society, it’s likely that every change in your life is strongly influenced by other people in some way. The courses you take in school that shape your career are often at the instigation of a friend or counsellor. The books you read, the tapes you listen to and the seminars you attend are almost invariably the result of a suggestion from someone you respect. The occupation you select, the job you take and the key steps in your career are largely determined by the people you meet and talk to at those critical decision points in your life. In fact, at every crossroad in your life, there is usually someone standing there pointing you in one direction or another.
According to the law of probabilities, the greater number of people you know who can help you at any given time, the more likely it is that you will know the right person at the right time and place to give you the help you need to move ahead more rapidly in your life. The more people you know, the more doors of opportunity will be open to you and the more sound advice you will get in making the important decisions that shape your life.
The right fit
David McLelland of Harvard did a 25-year research study into the factors that contribute most to success. He found that, holding constant for age, education, occupation and opportunities, the single most important factor in career success is your ‘reference group’. Your reference group is made up of the people with whom you habitually associate and identify. These are the people you live with, work with and interact with outside of your work. You identify with these people and consider yourself one of them. They consider you one of them, as well.
It’s about trust
When you develop a positive reference group, you begin to become a member of the in-crowd at your level of business. The starting point in this process is to develop a deliberate and systematic approach to networking throughout your career.
People like to do business with people they know. They like to socialise and interact with people with whom they are familiar. And they like to recommend people they trust. The best networkers are never unemployed for very long.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they begin networking is scattering their time and energy indiscriminately, and spending their time with people who can be of no help at all. Even if they attend organisation meetings, they often end up associating with people who are neither particularly ambitious nor well-connected.
When you network, you must be perfectly selfish. You want to become all you can over the course of your career. Any success you could ever desire will require the active involvement and help of lots of other people. Your job is to focus your energies and attention on meeting the people who can help you.
When you network, your aim is to meet people who are going places in their lives. You want to meet people who are ahead of you in their careers and in their organisations. You want to meet people you can look up to with pride. You want to meet people who can be friends, guides and mentors. You want to think ahead and meet people who can help you move into your ideal future more readily. For this reason, you must sort people into categories: helpful vs non-helpful, ambitious vs non-ambitious, going somewhere vs going nowhere.
You begin your networking process at your place of work. Look around and identify the top people in your organisation. Make these people your role models and pattern yourself after them. One of the best ways to start networking is to go to someone you admire and ask for his or her advice. Don’t be a pest. Don’t tie up several hours of their time. Initially you should ask for only a few minutes and you should have two or three specific questions. When you talk to a successful person, ask questions like, “What do you think is the most important quality or attribute that has contributed to your success?” and, “What one piece of advice would you give to someone like me who wants to be as successful as you some day?”
There is a law of incremental commitment in networking. It says that people become committed to helping you,
or associating with you, little by little over time. In some cases the chemistry won’t be right and the person with whom you would like to network will really not be interested in networking with you. Don’t take this personally. People get into, or out of, networking for a thousand reasons. However, if there is good chemistry, if you like the person and the person likes you, be patient and bide your time. Let the networking relationship unfold without overeagerness on your part.
If you try to go too fast, you’ll scare people away. Instead of asking your superiors for more money, ask for more responsibility. Tell your boss that you are determined to be extremely valuable to the organisation and that you are willing to work extra hours in order to make a more important contribution.
There is nothing as impressive to a boss as an employee who continually volunteers for more responsibility. Many people have the unfortunate goal of doing as little as possible for as much money as possible. But not the winners. The winners realise that if all you do is what you’re being paid for today, you can never be paid any more in the future.
Reap what you sow
Whenever you do something nice or helpful for others, they feel a sense of obligation. They feel like they owe you one. They have a deep, subconscious need to pay you back until they no longer feel obligated to you. The more things you do for people without expectation of return, the more they feel obligated to help you when the time comes.
We have moved from the age of the go-getter to the age of the go-giver.
A go-giver is a person who practices the law of sowing and reaping. He or she is always looking for opportunities to sow, knowing that reaping is not the result of chance. You’ll find that successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, “What’s in it for me?”
The more of yourself you give away with no direct expectation of return, the more good things come back to you in the most unexpected ways. In fact, it seems that the help we get in life almost invariably comes from people whom we have not helped directly. Rather, it comes from others who have been influenced by people whom we have helped directly.
Whatever your job or occupation, there are trade and industry associations, business associations and service clubs that you can join. Excellent networkers are among the best-known and most respected people in the community. To reach that status, they followed a simple formula. They carefully identified the clubs and associations whose members they can help and support and who can help and support them in return. And then they joined and participated.
When you look at the various organisations you should join, select no more than two or three. Target the ones with the people who can be the most helpful to you. Volunteer for the committee that engages in the activities that are most important to the organisation, such as governmental affairs or fundraising. Then get fully involved in your chosen responsibilities.
You will find that the members of the key committees are usually key players in the business community as well. By joining the committee, you create an opportunity to interact with them in a completely voluntary and non-threatening way. You give them a chance to see what you can really do outside the work environment. And you contribute to the committee as a peer, not as an employee or subordinate.
Remember, in any committee, 20% of the people do 80% of the work. In any association, fully 80% of the members never volunteer for anything. All they do is attend the meetings and then go home. But this is not for you. You are determined to make your mark, and you do this by jumping wholeheartedly into voluntary activities that move the association ahead. And the key people will be watching and evaluating you. The more favourable attention you attract, the more people will be willing to help you when you need them.
Networking fulfills one of your deepest subconscious needs – getting to know people and being known by them. It broadens your perspective and opens doors of opportunity for you. It increases the number of people who know and respect you. And it can be one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences of your life.
It’s The Small Things: How To Make A Good Impression On Clients
Read on below for how to stand out from the crowd.
Impressing clients who visit your office can be quite tricky. You will not want to come off as a business that is trying too hard but at the same time being too casual can be detrimental. And clients also notice small things, such as being greeted by name and offered a beverage while they are waiting for their meeting to start (like a freshly made cappuccino with just the right amount of foam).
To put your best foot forward with your clients, you will need to put in more effort than you are currently. You should invest in coffee machines for your employees and clients, and your office foyer should always be neat, clean and tidy. Your receptionist should know exactly who will be coming in on any given day. Want to make your clients feel special? Read on below for how to stand out from the crowd.
Offer them a hot cuppa (or a well-made coffee)
Offering your clients a perfectly made cup of coffee, tea or other funky coffee ideas is one of the most effective ways to make a good impression. You are showing them that you are thinking about them and care about their needs. Offering a cup of coffee also makes a person feel relaxed and at ease in a meeting.
You will find that clients are more at ease when their needs have been taken care of. Imagine a situation like this. Your client has just driven to your office through busy traffic to arrive at your office on time for a meeting. When they walk through your door, they are greeted by name and offered their choice of coffee, tea, water or another drink. They will feel welcomed and appreciated and will keep doing business with you.
Consider decor carefully
An important part of any good impression on a client is the appearance of your office. If you have decor that could be seen as offensive or that is too bright then your client might not feel comfortable in your office. It is also important to decorate according to your brand and industry to keep your office relevant for clients and employees alike.
Art that is distracting could be detrimental to business meetings, so be sure to keep your boardroom well decorated. For example, you could cover your walls in a fun wallpaper which reflects your brand or paint a feature wall and display certificates and achievements. Your decor should showcase your professionalism as well as your brand personality, but err on the side of caution with bright colours and “quirky” art.
Give them a warm welcome
You should aim to welcome your clients warmly and uniquely. For example, you could have a board up in the lobby welcoming them by name and company. Or you could have a comfortable seating area with a fun questionnaire about a simple topic, such as “How much do you love coffee?” or “How well do you know our company?”
These tactics will take minutes to complete but will garner an impressive result. If a client feels welcomed, they are likely to want to continue doing business with you.You shouldn’t overdo your efforts but you should put some thought behind your welcoming endeavours. Tell your receptionist who will be arriving on any given day and ask them to greet clients by name as they arrive for a little something extra.
Keep it clean
Your office should always be kept neat, clean, and tidy. And this goes for the kitchen too. If you have a coffee machine and accoutrements, it is important to keep these clean and shiny after every use. This will make a fantastic first impression on your client, as will an office that is kept neat and tidy.
Be sure to ask your staff to avoid leaving overflowing bins near their desks and to take all crockery and cutlery into the kitchen to be washed after lunch times. This should not only be done when a client is coming in but every day to maintain your office’s aesthetic and keep your staff happy in a healthy environment. Hire a professional cleaner to ensure that everything is cleaned and no spaces are forgotten about.
First impressions are long lasting
Making a good first impression on a client is vital to maintaining your relationship with them. Start by offering them the perfectly brewed cup of coffee or tea, and be sure that you get their order right. Ensure that your decor is carefully considered and that it reflects your brand and message correctly. Welcome your clients as warmly and as openly as possible and remember to keep your office neat, clean and tidy. This will show your clients that, not only do you care about them, but you take your work and office seriously.
Why Coffee Is The Key To Career Networking
Read on below for some of the reasons why coffee is the key to career networking.
Coffee has become the fuel of choice for many of us. It helps to perk up our minds and bodies and can help immensely with improving productivity and stamina. But coffee can do more than simply fuel a machine – it can be used for helping to ease conversation when networking. Networking is a vital part of building your career in your industry, and can be useful for when you are looking for a new position in a different company. It can also help to build your skill set and ensure that it is up-to-date with industry trends.
Meeting people over a cup of Nescafé Alegria coffee is a great way to network. A coffee date or meeting is usually a lot less stressful and can be an effective way to understand the person you are meeting. And coffee culture is booming, meaning there are plenty of places to meet up. You might find that the meeting is a successful one, which can cement a relationship with someone who you admire and aspire to be more like. So, read on below for some of the reasons why coffee is the key to career networking.
It can eliminate pressure
Meeting someone for a coffee is more casual than meeting them in the office or at a conference. And while face-to-face networking can put pressure on even the most bubbly of people, a coffee date at a relaxed cafe will allow you to feel less stressed and pressured and can encourage you to be yourself when meeting with a mentor or potential employee.
Coffee is a fantastic bonding tool, allowing people to discover more about one another based on what drink they choose. For example, a cappuccino might show that you are an easy-going and uncomplicated person, whereas a fancy drink (caramel macchiato with a double shot of espresso, anyone?) might show that you are creative but a little highly strung. Take this opportunity to have a relaxed conversation with someone who you admire in your industry.
It does not take too long
There is nothing worse than having a “short meeting” with someone and it ends up running late. But with a coffee date, even if it is a cup of coffee in an office, this is likely not to happen. A well-made cup of coffee does not take too long to make, which means that your networking meeting or chat will not go over the suggested time of 45 minutes.
A coffee meeting should not be seen as an interview, but rather as a chat between colleagues or acquaintances. This should never run too long, as the person who you have invited for the coffee might become bored with the meeting and not pay attention to your queries or suggestions. Half an hour is the perfect amount of time to spend sipping on a delicious cup of coffee and chatting about your respective experience, careers and companies.
It can help to spark conversation
Having a chat over a cup of coffee in the office is commonplace. But it is not only used to help boost your energy levels, it can help to spark interesting can creative conversation. The same can be said of coffee and networking. This humble roasted bean can help to encourage you to speak to people who you admire and want to get to know.
At a networking event or even in the office where you are new, bonding over coffee can encourage conversation and camaraderie. If you are having a “coffee date” interview, be sure to research the person you are meeting to find out more about them and use this information in the conversation. A freshly-made cup of Nescafé Alegria will help to boost your confidence and can help you to carry the conversation, asking questions which lead to a new venture.
You will feel more comfortable
While meeting someone important in your industry should not be taken lightly, networking over a cup of coffee can help you to feel more comfortable than a formal meeting would. This is because you will be able to unwind with a coffee and chat naturally, without the stress of being in a stiff and uncomfortable setting.
Coffee is a drink that many people associate with high energy, but for others, it can allow them to unwind and feel more confident. This makes a coffee date the perfect way to connect with someone and have a successful meeting. You will feel more comfortable and will be able to hold a conversation, allowing you to get your point across without fumbling or feeling nervous. And there is also the added benefit of being able to drink some tasty coffee at the same time.
Wake up and smell the coffee
Career networking in the workplace can also help immensely in improving your position and standing in your office. You will find that meeting over a cup of coffee is one of the best ways to network. It allows you to feel less pressure and be comfortable with whoever you are meeting, no matter their level of experience. The meeting will not take too long and coffee is the perfect conversation starter.
Tips For Start-up Owners When Approaching A Networking Event
Here are a few ways in which you can approach networking.
It’s “easy” to start a business and generate an idea you think will make a difference in the world, but unfortunately, it’s not that simple in reality. Entering the start-up world requires more than just the knowledge you’ve gained through your studies or what you’ve read up about online. Success is about putting your business, and yourself, out there and connecting with influential people at events.
If you don’t have a budget to market your business, you need to speak to the right people in order to help grow your business. For introverts, this might sound the worst idea, but if you want to attract influential people in the industry and increase your client base, you need to be your business’ own marketer.
Here are a few ways in which you can approach networking:
Build your own network of people
When you start networking, think of it as an opportunity to build your own network of influential individuals in the industry who can assist you when you need it most. Networking shouldn’t be as daunting as you make it out to be. If you believe in your idea and your employees, and you genuinely want to find the right tools to propel your business into the right direction, you need to connect and engage with people who can help you.
In the beginning stages of your startup experience, you should try to attend events to meet with other African start-ups. African tech innovation is advancing, and it’s worth your time to explore the technical space to see how you can leverage technology to succeed. If you have an interest in meeting people who could introduce you to others and vice versa, your business will flourish.
You are your own superhero
For years, it has been said that people buy from people and not adverts which is 100 percent correct. You are your biggest strength in that, if you believe in yourself and your product or service, you will be able to boost sales drastically. People are convinced by people, which is a huge part of your networking abilities and how people remember your products or services in an impressive way.
If people can see that you believe in your own business, are confident in your abilities and are trying to convince people otherwise, people will take a chance on you and put more effort into supporting you.
Always be strategic about your approach
The more you network, the more you will realise that you need to have a plan in place before you approach anyone or attend any event. A plan is crucial if you want to achieve a particular goal out of a face-to-face interaction. Before you attend an event, meet up with someone outside of the event or even speak with someone over the phone, make a list of the topics you what you want to talk about.
Events are usually jam-packed with people, and if you don’t have a purpose for your interaction, it will turn into a lost opportunity. You cannot leave without speaking to people you were interested in or without the information you need. If people are leaving in a rush, ask them for their contact details and make another plan.
Network both online and offline
If you’re putting yourself out there and attending a marketing or tech conference, also consider the online elements, for instance, LinkedIn, which you could explore. Many people believe in one or the other, but a combined approach is extremely powerful. Once you have met someone, make an effort to look them up online and follow up with a meeting request if you are interested in creating a further relationship. Your networking circle will not be complete if you aren’t making use of both offline and online networking in your community and the industry at large.
Provide more than you take
Don’t be a taker. People try and stay away from these types of people once they know who you are and feel sceptical about the interest you’re showing in them. While you might genuinely be interested in seeking advice on an innocent level, it can quickly give you a bad name if people spread their feelings about your motives. So, in order to avoid this, be willing to give. Of course, you need to limit your “free” offerings once you’ve met with someone new, but keep that opportunity open in the beginning. Show people that you’re willing to offer them information or free trials for their time. When people see that you’re not just taking what you can get your hands on, they will start to give you their attention.
Women Entrepreneur Successes2 weeks ago
Watch List: 50 Black African Women Entrepreneurs To Watch
Support for Women Entrepreneurs2 weeks ago
Funding And Financial Assistance For SA Women Entrepreneurs
Accounting & Payroll2 weeks ago
Wilting Away – How To Boost Your Financial Management Team After The Big Financial Year-End
Snapshots7 days ago
How Pepe Marais Went From Bankruptcy To Founding Joe Public And Becoming An Entrepreneurial Success
Snapshots6 days ago
Ian Fuhr Explains Why He Likes To Launch Businesses In Unfamiliar Industries And How He Made Sorbet A Success
Support for Women Entrepreneurs2 weeks ago
Too Few South African Women Become Entrepreneurs, But This Can Change
Company Posts3 days ago
Designing Her Destiny
Entrepreneur Today6 days ago
Digital Transformation Should Be A Priority For Small Businesses In South Africa