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10 Brilliant Tools For Managing And Boosting Your Professional Network

10 Brilliant Tools For Managing And Boosting Your Professional Network
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Remember the phrase that goes something along the lines of “It’s not what you know, but who you know”?

Networking is still a great way to achieve success in the professional world. Creating a community of people around you can provide needed support and even opportunities to collaborate on some pretty exciting projects with fellow professionals.

Thank goodness we live in a time where the Internet exists. There are so many brilliant tools out there that can not only help you boost your professional network, but also help you manage your network after you meet all these awesome people.

Save time and focus on fostering professional relationships with the help of these 10 tools:

1. Evernote Hello

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Evernote Hello

    Rather than organizing your network, Evernote Hello is all about meeting new people. Evernote Hello gathers location and time data, known as an “encounter,” which means that you can record multiple meetings with the same person. You can even introduce contacts to other people.

    What’s so great about Evernote Hello is its visual interface. All users are encouraged to submit photos, so you get to see who they are and what they look like, which is great if you’re a visual thinker. It’s similar to attending a professional networking event and getting to look at everyone’s name tags.

    You approach people you want to meet, without seeming like you’re ignoring everyone else. Everyone is organized into a gorgeous mosaic with the idea that you remember people by their face.

    2. Business Card Reader

    Business Card Reader

      This awesome software uses optical character recognition to convert business cards into contacts in your smartphone. It also integrates with Salesforce and Evernote. It is compatible with Android, Blackberry, iOS, Symbian, Java, and Windows.

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      3. Rapportive

        This is a really awesome add-on for Gmail because it’s so darn efficient without slowing Gmail down. Rapportive shows in your inbox everything you need to know about your contacts. If you email someone or they email you, you can head over to their social media links or even join their various groups. You can even add notes about your contact all while reading and replying to emails.

        Rapportive is free on Chrome, Mailplane, Firefox and Safari.

        4. Meet the Boss

        Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 6.22.02 PM

          This is a great service that allows you to reach out to C-level executives to help you figure out challenges in your business. You have the opportunity to meet other like-minded executives where you can participate in industry conversation. Not only do you have a place to learn from each other, but it provides a platform for you to meet and strengthen professional contacts, as well. You meet with others in real time all in the comfort of your own office.

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          5. Highrise

            Highrise might remind you of Facebook’s news feed. You can see what’s happening with your contacts, search for individuals, or even view their history. You can forward emails from your account and link messages to the right contact.

            6. Contactually

            Contactually

              This web-based and iPhone app service syncs with your Facebook, Gmail, and Twitter account. It scrapes your contact information and compiles it all on one online address book. With a click of a button on your dashboard, you can follow your contacts on Facebook or Twitter.

              Another great feature about Contactually is that it keeps track on your top contacts, depending on how often you interact with them. You can categorize them into groups, called “buckets,” so that you can follow up with contacts based on frequency. This service will set reminders for you, as well.

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              7. Yesware

                This app helps you figure out if your emails are actually reaching your prospective and current clients. It will notify you when your messages are opened, and will tell you what links are getting interaction. You can also check what devices they’re reading your emails on so you can better format your emails in the future to maintain your contacts.

                8. CardCloud

                  This free Android app creates a “stack” of digital business cards that you can exchange between smartphones. You can even email them using their CardCloud service. CardCloud will also remind you if you’ve “met” before you share cards.

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                  Published on July 27, 2021

                  15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

                  15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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                  During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

                  But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

                  Put the Pro in Professional

                  After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

                  1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

                  The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

                  Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

                  2. Dress the Part

                  While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

                  Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

                  For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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                  Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

                  3. Stage Your Workspace

                  Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

                  Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

                  4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

                  Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

                  Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

                  Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

                  Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

                  5. Arrive on Time

                  In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

                  Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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                  6. Turn on Your Video

                  Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

                  If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

                  Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

                  7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

                  Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

                  Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

                  Attend to the Pesky Details

                  8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

                  With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

                  Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

                  9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

                  Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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                  Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

                  10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

                  As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

                  Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

                  Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

                  Talking Has a Time and a Place

                  11. Chat Appropriately

                  Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

                  At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

                  12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

                  The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

                  Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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                  13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

                  In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

                  Manage Yourself

                  14. Minimize Distractions

                  While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

                  Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

                  15. Save Snacking for Later

                  Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

                  However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

                  Final Thoughts

                  Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

                  Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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