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Networking Without Power: Going Old School

Networking Without Power: Going Old School

networking

    Remember the old days of Rolodexes, before mobile phones had every gadget and gizmo now known to man (and woman)? Remember when we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to connect with other businesspeople and had to actually, you know, talk to people?

    The way many of us network today, using online social networking and keeping track of things via Blackberry, iPhone, PDA and other “smart” devices, is superior in many ways to the “old” way of doing things. However, there’s a lot to be learned by going “old school” with your networking and heading back out into the real world. Today I’ll talk about some of the reasons old school networking outweighs the new 2.0 version, and how you can reconnect with your old school networking roots.

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    Online, you can reach more people, but the connections you build in person are stronger.

    Sure, in the Brave New World of online networking, you can generate infinite LinkedIn connections and five thousand Facebook “friends,” but are they really friends? Are the folks you’ve just connected with people you want to know and do business with? How well can you get to know someone and their business without actually talking to them?

    In the 2.0 world of networking, something’s been lost in the connection. These days, a lot of people connect with you just to increase their list of followers. But who are they? Connecting with someone on Facebook or LinkedIn without talking to them and getting to know them is akin to throwing a business card at someone as you walk past them. It’s neither effective nor does it represent your business well.

    Bob Burg, author of Endless Referrals (a book I highly, highly recommend),  writes this golden rule of networking:  “All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.” When you meet someone in person, don’t you get a better sense of whether or not they’re for real than if you meet them online? When you meet someone in person and take the time to get to know them, you can tell if you can trust them and if they’re someone you’d like doing business with, as a potential client, in a joint venture, or if they’re someone you want in your Rolodex to refer business to in the future.

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    Check your marketing plan: you may not need to reach the masses.

    There are tons of statistics that suggest you can reach millions of potential buyers online. But if you’re a solo professional or a small business owner, you may not need to reach millions. You may not even want to reach millions. If your business is local or if you’re a consultant, reaching the international masses online may not make even the slightest sense for your business.

    Old School Networking And You

    In the old days, people sat down and talked to each other. They got to know one another — not just in terms of business, but personally. They connected with each other’s families, spent time together, and when you threw business someone’s way, you knew and trusted the person and could really count on them to handle the business you sent them.

    Get Involved.

    So how can you get back to basics and go “old school” with your networking? For one, the kind of old school networking I’m talking about isn’t the kind you find in networking groups and events. It’s about enriching your life while also enriching your business. Now’s the time to volunteer and get involved and active in your local community. Get to know the other volunteers and their families. Expand your net of friends and business associates. Connect with your alumni group from college, join your local Chamber of Commerce. Sign up for just-for-fun sports leagues. These are the ways in which people used to network and these connections are stronger and farther-reaching than those of your Twitter followers.

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    You Never Know Who Someone Knows.

    Stop worrying about “qualifying prospects” and instead, get to know people. And as you hang out after a ball game, nursing a beer with your fellow players, remember that while you may not be talking to an actual prospect at that moment, you never know who that person knows. You may not have a direct business connection with someone, but you could very well gain indirect business through that connection.

    Throw Away Your Technology.

    Ok, so it’s great to have your phone or PDA up-to-date with all your networking contacts at the touch of a fingertip. But if you’re going to go old school, consider really going old school.

    Believe it or not, studies have shown that technology can create social barriers in interpersonal interactions. First, it can disrupt the flow of conversation. Imagine your phone ringing while the person you’re with is talking. Not only are they distracted by the ringing, but they don’t know if you’re going to answer the call or not.

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    Second, it can get between you and the person. Did you ever notice the way people transform when they bring out their technology to schedule a meeting on their digital calendars? Instead of going tech to book a time, keep a pocket-sized Moleskine calendar handy and schedule it in pen. Not only will the meeting seem more important because it’s in indeliable ink and can’t be deleted, but you won’t be disconnected from the social interaction. If you really need to take notes during a meeting, don’t use your Blackberry. Instead, keep a Moleskine notebook and a pen in your pocket and bring it out when you need it.

    On the surface, technology seems great, because it promises a great time and personal energy savings. So we think it fixes everything. But sometimes, using technology for things we used to do in person can reduce our effectiveness. Although I’ve argued for an old school approach to networking in this article, I personally prefer a hybrid approach to networking. Use technology to support and follow up on your in person networking. And if you can’t network in certain locations in person, use the online world to bring those places to you. But never forget the key component to networking: getting to know people. Build relationships and you’ll reap huge rewards.

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    Susan Baroncini-Moe

    Susan Baroncini-Moe is an executive coach and business leader with over sixteen years’ experience.

    How to Find Your Entrepreneurial Passion and Purpose How to Hire A Web Design Firm Are You Having A Scarcity Conversation? 5 Topics To Address When Talking With Your Partner About Starting A Business How to Stay Motivated and On-Track When You’re Struggling

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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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