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15 Quick Ways to Give Value and Make a Positive Impression

15 Quick Ways to Give Value and Make a Positive Impression
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Making a positive impression on someone you met through a networking event or online need not be a difficult or use much of your time or resources. The following 15 quick ways to make a positive impression are designed to be easy to implement and most only take a few minutes to do, depending on where you are at.

The list is geared toward network-savvy professionals, especially those who are actively involved in expanding their business or ideas. Most of these 15 ways do not require having an in depth knowledge of the areas of interest of the person you want to impress. It is simple enough to ask for more information where you aren’t sure.
These things should come from a genuine area of interest and there should be no expectation of getting something back if you do one or more of these things for someone. Think of the impression you have of those who do these sorts of things for you from time to time – likely a positive one.

1. Forward relevant articles. Forwarding one or two articles or links is all that you should do here unless you get feedback asking for more of them. Don’t annoy someone by sending tons of stuff forever. One or two well chosen articles should do nicely. Audio and video clips are included in this.

2. Mention the person in a blog post or article you are writing. It is a good idea to run it by the person first although not always necessary if you are mentioning something that is already in the public domain. A positive brief mention will likely go over nicely.

3. Give them a marketing tip they can use for their business. It should be specific to something they do. Maybe you noticed something on the website or see someplace where some brief feedback could be helpful.

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4. Write a helpful article for a publication or blog. Maybe you are in a position to feature the person in a publication or blog you regularly write for. Rather than just a brief mention as per item 2 above, this would be more of a feature that might involve you interviewing the person for your piece. Including the person in a speech you are giving also fits in here.

5. Introduce them to a prospective alliance partner. This can be a prospective client or someone the person can work with in some capacity. This is a common and traditional way to help someone.

6. Give them a relevant book. Don’t badger someone into reading it or become offended if it ends up sitting on a credenza for several months unread. It is also a good idea to let them pass it on to someone else who might find it more interesting. Don’t confuse this with loaning someone a book where there is an expectation of getting it back. That can become embarrassing if the book is lost, damaged or forgotten.

7. Forward them a useful template. This works especially well if you are well organized and have a collection of useful templates. Examples include business planning, GTD tools, checklists, marketing resources, etc.

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8. Recommend directories where they can promote their business online. There is a large and growing number of places where people can promote their business online. Check and see if there is already a listing on one or more of the places that you look for stuff at. If there is no listing, suggest it.

9. Give them a testimonial. If suitable, you could give them something for their website, book, etc. The converse also works in some circumstances. This is where you put their blurb on your site, book, etc.

10. Sponsor or volunteer for their organization or group. This is a great way of supporting the person without being too direct about it. You can easily vary the level of support depending on your interests.

11. Give them promotional products. Most people like getting free stuff so if you give them a sample promotional product, it should go over well. Be careful to ensure you don’t violate their gift protocol if they work for the government or some other organization that has restrictions or disclosure requirements.

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12. Answer their questions on LinkedIn or Yahoo Answers. Being able to answer someone’s question in a timely manner definitely adds value.

13. Forward their article to a colleague or client (and let them know). Spreading his or her information around is often an easy and effective way to help someone while also giving value to the recipient. Using the shot gun approach of blasting the information to your mailing lists is almost never a very good idea. But picking and choosing one or more select people to send it to can add good value.

14. Invite them to a relevant business event (just invite or pay for them). Some might consider a hockey or football game a relevant business event. In any case, sending invitations or tickets should be done based on his or her preferences and interests. Check schedules and availabilities before sending stuff out. Also make it easy for the person to politely decline your offer in case it doesn’t fit.

15. Buy their product or help make a sale. If the fit is a good one, buy it. Or if there is a clear fit for someone you know, help close the sale.

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Doing these quick and simple things for someone adds value and can go a long way toward making a lasting positive impression. These things also tend to separate the doers from the talkers in the eyes of the recipient.

Peter Paul Roosen and Tatsuya Nakagawa are co-founders of Atomica Creative Group , a specialized strategic product marketing firm. Through leading edge insight and research, sound strategic planning and effective project management, Atomica helps companies achieve greater success in bringing new products to market and in improving their existing businesses. They have co-authored Overcoming Inventoritis: The Silent Killer of Innovation now available.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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