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7 Useful Tools To Expand Your Business Network

7 Useful Tools To Expand Your Business Network

Ah yes, the ever-important expansion of your business network question. How do you do it? What are the best ways to network with potential partners, collaborators, and associates these days?

In a constantly evolving world, it’s incredibly important to know how to make connections using the newest and most helpful technology.

If, for instance, this networking conundrum was proposed in the 1990s, the best answer would probably be things like phone calls, business functions, and business cards. Today, these things are terrible for actually making new business connections. No, instead we must turn to our online resource, the internet.

Here are 7 online tools that help expand your business network. Use them wisely.

1. LinkedIn

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    A lot of people still aren’t familiar with LinkedIn and how it works. But then again, these are the people who aren’t making the right business connections. With over 300 million users, LinkedIn is no longer that little-fish social network. It has become the go-to social networking site for all business professionals and is currently the biggest business fish in the social sea!

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    The best way to network with people on LinkedIn is to connect with them, endorse a few things that you know they are good at, and then reach out to them in some small way. Do not pitch them on something, but rather, just message them with a compliment or something similar about something they’ve done that you’ve enjoyed. After building up a bit of a rapport with someone, over a period of time, then you can start to inquire about things and perhaps try working with them.

    2. Twitter

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      Twitter is a personal favorite of mine for connecting with business associates. It’s great because everyone from Richard Branson, to Mitt Romney, to Tim Ferriss is on there. Just about every celebrity, politician, entrepreneur, athlete, or anyone else you could think of is on Twitter. So, in theory, no one is impossible to connect with.

      The average-Joe business man up the street can connect with somebody like Richard Branson on Twitter by using some clever Twitter tactics and saying the right things.

      For instance, if you want to connect with someone (maybe someone a little easier to reach than Branson), the best way to do it is to Follow them, and then start Favoriting and Retweeting their posts. By doing this, over a period of time, you will get their attention. You can then start commenting on their posts, and voila! The next thing you know they’re commenting back and you’ve built up a relationship with someone who can help you out! You can either private message them at this point (if they’ve Followed you back by now), or just ask them in a post thread if you could connect with them beyond Twitter. That’s it!

      3. Podcasting

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        One of the best tools for making connections is creating a podcast. Why podcasting, when we live in a video, in-your-face, visual world you ask? Because radio still rules! People love hearing podcasts and the podcasting industry is growing more and more each year.

        By having a podcast and interviewing people, you can invite all sorts of guests to come on your show. Everyone loves being interviewed and thought of as being special, so many people will typically accept your invitation. By creating a podcast show, you can connect with people in the business-world who would otherwise pass on an invitation to collaborate.

        4. Guest Posting

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          Similar to Podcasting, Guest Posting is such a great way to connect with others. It’s the one, tried-and-true way for bloggers to join forces with one another online.

          Reach out to some of your favorite websites and blogs, and ask them if they’d like to exchange articles with you. You could write them an article that fits their site’s criteria, and they could write an article that fits your site’s criteria, and in turn, you both win! By offering up your service, in the form of a blog post, you are giving them a great incentive to want to work with you and connect.

          5. Facebook

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            Although not as good as LinkedIn or Twitter for connecting with business associates, Facebook still holds a solid place on this list. Especially if you connect with someone’s personal page. Business pages are no good for connecting with. Oftentimes, these pages have way too many followers or people for the person running it (the person you’d like to connect with) to keep track of. A message to a fan page is a message lost.

            Instead, if you can Friend Request someone on their personal page, and you can actually get them to Accept, you are figuratively “In.” Don’t private message them right away, but just like LinkedIn and Twitter, Like some of their posts, Comment, Share, and build up a rapport for a while, and then message them. The message has a far greater chance of being returned if you take your time before sending it!

            6. Email

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              Email is the universal form of contact in today’s world. Almost everyone has an email address. And if someone puts their email address on their website, then you should take that a sign that that they are open to connecting with you. Now, don’t take that to mean you should Spam them with absurd requests. Don’t do that . . . ever!

              No, instead, send a thoughtful, well-planned, and respectful email with your inquiry. Tell them why you are reaching out to them, why they could benefit by working with you, and what you would like them to do if possible. That’s it. Keep it short, respectful, and sweet!

              7. Let’s Lunch

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                This is a really cool app that sets up lunch dates with potential business contacts. It connects with your LinkedIn profile and easily integrates your schedule with the people you’d like to bond with and sets up a scheduled time to meet face-to-face.

                This face-to-face meeting of course is the hands-down best way to really build a relationship with someone, although these days it’s becoming ever-more-difficult to do so. With a helpful little app like Let’s Lunch, however, the old-fashioned way of creating a relationship is being renewed.

                Use these 7 tools right now and start building your business network today. Who knows, you’re next connection could change your life!

                Featured photo credit: Handshake – 2 men via flickr.com

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                Justin Stenstrom

                Nationally-Acclaimed Life Coach

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                Published on January 16, 2019

                How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

                You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

                You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

                That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

                Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

                1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

                Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

                We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

                To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

                At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

                The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

                2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

                Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

                The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

                In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

                It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

                It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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                So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

                • Are you a great strategist?
                • Are you an effective planner?
                • Is Project Management your strength?
                • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
                • Are you the ideas person?
                • Is Implementation your strength?

                Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

                3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

                One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

                Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

                Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

                Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

                4. Take Time for Planning

                “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

                One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

                You can take the time to think about:

                • What’s the purpose of the project?
                • How Important is it?
                • When does it need to be delivered by?
                • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
                • What are the KPIs?
                • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
                • Who is working on this project?
                • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
                • What tolerances can I add in?
                • What are the review stages?
                • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

                Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

                5. Focus on Priorities

                Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

                Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

                One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

                1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
                2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
                3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
                4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

                James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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                  The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

                  If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

                  If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

                  6. Take Time Out

                  To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

                  If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

                  Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

                  In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

                  Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

                  7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

                  Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

                  I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

                  Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

                  If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

                  8. Stop Multitasking

                  Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

                  So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

                  When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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                  If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

                  9. Work in Blocks of Time

                  To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

                  I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

                  Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

                  Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

                  Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

                  Then take another 10-minute break.

                  Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

                  By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

                  10. Get Rid of Distractions

                  Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

                  “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

                  Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

                  If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

                  11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

                  You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

                  Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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                  Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

                  12. Take a Time Audit

                  Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

                  Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

                  You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

                  Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

                  Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

                  At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

                  If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

                  13. Protect Your Confidence

                  It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

                  When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

                  Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

                  When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

                  Final Words

                  A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

                  The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

                  If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

                  Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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