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Build Your Social Networks

Build Your Social Networks
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I spent a little time on my blog the other day griping about LinkedIN. I wanted them to add photos (still do), so it’d be even easier to connect with other people. So many times, we go to a conference or professional event, come home with a stack of business cards, and realize that we don’t really remember which face went with which name, and sometimes worse, which conversation to which name.

But while I wait for Reid Hoffman and team to implement my every wish (I want a pony!), here’s what I recommend might be a good hack for building your own networking toolbag to cement your relationships with interesting and engaging people. Please note: I don’t care if this is your corporate website or your personal website. If there are policies or red tape about getting a new page added, or doing things outside the box, circumvent this. Do things yourself and don’t wait for your company to support your professional networking needs.

Make an About Me / Contact Me Page

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If you want an example, here’s mine. Note a few things about it: I have a picture of me (in fact, I have several pictures of me, because I never want someone to be at an event, see me, and not link the name to the face). Note also that I talk about things I’ve done of significance that might also remind you why you were reaching out to speak with me in the first place.


And then, the good stuff: look at the bottom where I list out a bunch of social networking and communications sites and what username I employ for all of them. This gives you easy-cheesy ways to reach out to me. I include my cell phone, my email address, and about a dozen places like Twitter, where you can connect.

Connect Beyond The Business Card

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When you get home and enter in a bunch of business cards to your contact system, go further and seek out some of these people via the social networks. Check LinkedIN. Check Twitter. Check Flickr. See where you can find the people you found most interesting and engaging.

Linking and tying all these social systems together is still a fairly manual work. There are some neat companies out there taking a stab at it, like Wink, but I find that I’m still doing it the one-at-a-time manually.

Why Bother?

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Over the last year, I have helped two dozen people find jobs simply by strolling through my various social networks and remembering someone who had the same line of business as the person seeking the work. I’ve built a knack for knowing someone who knows someone who can answer the call. I find that by being more accessible, and by linking together all these online networks such that you find people in all their digital forms, you build a relationship tool suitable for helping people in the future.

Finding jobs is no longer about sending out resumes and reading big job search boards. Building prospect and customer lists isn’t just about buying names from large telemarketing vendors. Discovering people who do what you do and who are as passionate as you is an ACTIVE game, not a passive one. And it’s up to you to engage the right tools to get it done.

Have you done any of this on your own? Do you have a social networking success story? And if you HAVEN’T joined these kinds of networks yet, why not? We’d love to hear more.

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Chris Brogan blogs at [chrisbrogan.com]. He is an active Twitter user, and is heading to PodCamp Europe in Stockholm in a few days. Stop in. It’s a free event.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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