Category Archives: Socializing

360 – Socializing 2: Network Maintenance

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Transcript

Hi everyone. I’m Tim Simmons and you’re listening to Business Skills 360. Glad you could join me today for the second part of our look at networking skills. In this episode, I’m going to focus on what I’ll call “network maintenance,” or how to make sure your network is healthy, organized, and effective.

You see, passing out business cards is not enough. I can spend all week attending events and talking to people and manage to hand out 200 business cards but still not have a healthy and effective network. To do that, you need to maintain your network. You need to take care of it and reinforce its connections. You need to work your network. Just how can we do that? Glad you asked.

One of the first things you can do is to keep track of your network on paper or electronically. Take notes on your contacts. Record more than just phone numbers and email addresses. Write down interesting business-related information like current projects or past accomplishments. Also write down non-work information… things about family or personal interests. These things may come in very handy in the future when you talk with this contact again. Consider the difference between “Oh, hello… uh… Greg, right? Where do you work again?” and “Oh, hello Greg, I hope the furniture biz is treating you well, and by the way: how is your daughter adjusting to her new career?”

Another important part of network maintenance is following up on conversations. You meet someone, you exchange cards, and you have a brief chat. Great. A couple of days later you should send this new contact a brief email message just to say it was a pleasure talking. Mention something specific that you talked about just to help the person remember. Connections that are not reinforced will die. A brief follow-up after first meeting is a great way to increase the chance that your connection will survive.

Reinforcing your network even further means working your connections regularly. Don’t be afraid to call on people for help. If you’re faced with a difficult issue, look through your network to see if anyone can help. It might just mean placing a call for five minutes of advice. No problem. Every conversation will make weak contacts stronger. Remind people you exist. Check in regularly. If you hear a piece of news that you think someone might find interesting, pass it on. Show that you’re an active contact, and people will do the same in return.

Also remember that we’re talking about healthy and effective networks, not healthy and effective relationships. What’s the difference? Well, you may have a few dozen good business relationships, but if none of those people ever become connected, then it’s not really a network. Every relationship is simply the connection point between two people’s vast networks, and you should take every opportunity to connect other people through you. Here’s an example. You have a business associate named Nancy who needs to hire a new bookkeeper. You meet someone at a networking event named Joe who tells you he had to lay off several people in his accounting department. What do you do? You connect Nancy and Joe. Doing this strengthens your relationship with both people and puts two favors in the bank, one with Nancy and one with Joe.

You need to learn to view people as nodes in a network, not as isolated individuals. When you meet someone, don’t think only of what he or she might be able to do for you, think of what everyone in his or her network might be able to do. Good contacts are the ones that have good networks. A person who has an unhealthy network, or no network at all, is a dead-end contact. And remember other people are evaluating you as a contact. Show that you are a good one. Don’t be a dead end.

Great stuff. That wraps up our look at networking. If you’d like to learn more from today’s lesson and test yourself, have a look at the myBEonline.com website. There you’ll find discussion questions, some vocab, a quiz, and a complete transcript of for this episode. Thanks for listening, and see you again soon.

360 – Networking 1: Setting Goals

Free Resources: PDF Transcript | Quiz

Transcript
Hello and welcome back to Business Skills 360. I’m Tim Simmons, and I’m glad you could join me for today’s show on networking.

Today also marks the start of our “Back–to-School” sale on Business English Pod. Just head over to the website at www.BusinessEnglishPod.com.

Okay, back to networking. Now, I’m not going to tell you how to connect computers… this is about business networking, talking to people, making connections… and today we’re going to discuss goal-setting in networking events. You need to go into these events with a clear objective so that you can make good use of the opportunity. We set goals for everything else, so why not networking?

First off, what do I mean by networking event? Perhaps it’s a mixer for all business people in your community, or maybe it’s a conference where you have the chance to meet people in your field. These are important opportunities, and it’s important that you use your time wisely. The fact is, at many networking events, 75% of the people stand around waiting for the other 25% to make something happen. It’s important for you to be in that 25% group. Be proactive. You can’t just stand in the corner and expect everyone to walk across the room to introduce themselves.

So… to be an active and successful networker, it’s a very good idea to set goals before the event. What kind of goals? We’ll talk about issue-based goals and human-based goals.

Let’s start with issues. Before the event, sit down and give some thought to your current situation. What issues are you currently dealing with in your business or work? Are you facing specific problems or obstacles that you need help with? Do you have certain needs? Write these things down, then rank them in order of importance. For example, your list might say… “number 1: our project meetings lack focus. Number 2: our computer servers are unreliable. And number 3: my department is spending too much on office supplies.” Great. It’s good to have a top three. Too many and you’ll lose focus.

Now, keep your top three issues in mind as you head into the networking event. Remember, the goal of your networking is to solve these problems, get help solving them, or simply get some ideas about how to deal with them. You may not meet someone who can actually solve these, but you may meet someone who has encountered them before. Steer the conversation toward these issues. They may help you get over that awkward situation in which you’ve introduced yourselves and aren’t sure what more to talk about. You can say something like… “So, you folks do a lot of project work… how do you find your meetings?” or “What kind of servers do you run in there?”

Now, let’s think about human-based goals. The purpose of networking is, of course, to build a human network. You talk to people, and your network grows. You talk to more people, and your network grows even more. That’s great, but if your purpose heading into a networking event is very general, like “talking to people,” then how do you know whether you’ve been successful? Setting specific goals will help you get more done and measure your success, especially if you feel you’re not very good at networking.

Put numbers to your goals. Set targets, just as you might for sales or other important business basics. For example, perhaps you decide that you will make three soft contacts and one excellent contact. Or maybe you decide to tell five people about your company’s new product. Or maybe you aim simply to pass out 10 business cards. Whatever the specific goal is, it will help you focus your efforts. Chatting for 30 minutes about baseball with a former co-worker may qualify as “talking to people,” but it’s not necessarily the best use of your networking time.

Right. That’s all for today. Happy networking, and if you’d like to test yourself on today’s episode, check out the www.myBEonline.com website. You’ll find some vocab explanations, discussion questions, and a quiz. And don’t forget to tune in next week, when we’ll have a look at network maintenance. Fascinating stuff. Bye for now.

Discussion Questions

1. How often do you attend networking events?

2. What do you hope to achieve when you go into a networking event?

3. What are your strengths and weaknesses as a networker?