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5 Simple Tricks to Transform Your Networking Skills

5 Simple Tricks to Transform Your Networking Skills

Networking is essential; it’s a crucial skill that needs to be refined, no matter what stage of life you’re in. It can help you professionally by landing you a job or a client and personally by enabling you to build up a strong social network, giving you certain recognition among your peers. Networking may be time consuming, but what you can get out of networking makes it worthwhile. To some, networking skills comes naturally; however, most of us have to work on refining such skills. If you’re a services professional, you can better understand the importance of networking, developing relationships and referrals. One of the most effective ways to improve your career prospects is to brush up on your networking skills.

Here are several tips on how you can transform your networking skills.

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1. You MUST follow up after meeting.

The simple way to follow up is that before your conversation ends, you should have already arranged a follow up. You can accomplish this by promising to email a press release or copy of an interesting article, so that you can avoid the awkwardness when you want to contact someone but have no reason to do it. While meeting someone, if you discussed a particular topic, maybe you could do a little further research and send them an interesting article or point out a new blog on the subject.

At an event, exchange business cards or contact details with your new contacts. The next week, always remember to follow up with an email or phone call. Put your efforts to maintain the relationship; otherwise, you haven’t really networked at all.

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2. You should use Social Media to connect.

With the frequent usage of web content over the last few years, there are millions of people who exchange their information through social media sites that offer email, news and updates on any topic under the sun. There are so many websites that facilitate networking among the professionals, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and InMail. These websites allow you to network with people who are not only from your profession, but of other professions as well. You can also connect with people who are senior to you; you are not limited to people of the same job status.

3. You must not overdo it.

You need to make a regular habit of reaching out to new people and connecting with them, even if you can’t find that many events to attend in your area. There’s always email, phone calls, and one-on-one meetings; you should strike a balance and ensure you don’t overdo it or people will start avoiding you. Also remember to keep in touch with your existing network.

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4. You should have an open mind.

There are going to be people who will decline your follow ups or will ease out of your first conversation. Don’t be disheartened. Learn to let it go. There are going to be people in your life who you will just not click with—accept it and move on. Someone you might not like could be a great networker and surprise you with how helpful they can be.They might become your potential avenues for building some good contacts, including your student alumni, family and friends.

5. You should not get discouraged.

For some, networking skills are innate, and for others, they have to be developed. You should not get discouraged if you have trouble networking. Instead, be observant of your mistakes and learn to correct them in the future. Also, get help from your friends who have excellent networking skills, observe them and imitate them in certain situations to get a boost of confidence.

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Remember, the key to networking is giving information, advice, your services, and your personality, and after this, you’ll be well on your way to establish strong, lasting business relationships.

Featured photo credit: www.sundaymag.tv via sundaymag.tv

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The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

“You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

What is the productivity paradox?

There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

He wrote in his conclusion:

“Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

How do we measure productivity anyway?

And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

Possible causes of the productivity paradox

Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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  • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
  • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
  • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
  • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

The paradox and the recession

The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

“Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

Looking forward

A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

“Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

“Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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