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Build Your Social Networks

Build Your Social Networks
Build

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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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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