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10 Ways To Build Stronger Networks In Work And Life

10 Ways To Build Stronger Networks In Work And Life

New business opportunities don’t just fall from thin air and happen with no effort involved. You can rely on luck and happenstance to bring you in new leads and open fresh business directions, but this probably isn’t the most reliable way to go. The same goes for life decisions and socialization, you can’t just wait for things to fall into your lap. A lot of people might argue that you can’t just come up to people and talk to them, since that can be considered rude and pushy. Well, nothing will happen if you don’t take a chance, right?

By nature, I’m not a very sociable person and I’m a bit, what do you call it, “socially awkward”, but I have learned through the years that you need to break your comfort zone once in a while, especially when you want something to change. Opportunities and progress lie outside your comfort zone and you should take this as a given.

1. Elevator small talk

Small talk in elevator

    Don’t let the name confuse you. This technique isn’t necessarily related to conversations taking place within an elevator. It is true that it got its name from situations in which you get new networking opportunities with people while riding in an elevator and you have only those two floors to present yourself and what you do to somebody and make a connection. This can be applied to networking opportunities in general. Remain confident, introduce yourself and your company, and reveal what geographical area you cover and what your specialty is. Don’t take too long, speak with confidence and give the other side a chance to talk. These are the basics but there’s a lot more to it.

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    2. Originality

    If you want to get business opportunities, you will need to offer something that nobody (or almost nobody) else in your niche offers. If you are just a part of the crowd, nobody will notice you and chances for networking will be scarcer.

    3. Don’t be a stranger

    Meeting in public

      Remember to follow up on referrals and check up on previous acquaintances and connections. Regular contact makes your connections stronger and it is a good idea to connect with people outside of the business context and develop a level of familiarity and intimacy with those around you. A good network is an active one.

      4. A mutual friend

      You can always find new connections through old ones. In all honesty, people are much more likely to trust somebody who they met through a previous acquaintance than a random stranger. If you lack this specific type of connection, ask people if they know somebody who can help you out. Chances are they do!

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      5. Targeting

      Dart hitting bulls eye

        Mutual benefit is always a good thing when it comes to bringing two sides together. Find people who fit your business or social profile, people with whom you can connect.Try to focus your networking efforts on the right people – use your people skills to get close and spark up a conversation, but don’t waste a lot of time on people you don’t really want be acquainted with.

        6. Concrete focus

        Don’t talk peoples’ ears off with irrelevant information. Try to find a common ground and keep your conversation partner engaged and interested. Talking for ages about long-term plans and ambitions holds no value for potential business partners… concrete suggestions do.

        7. Planning

        Connections are not Pokémon, you don’t need them all. Make a plan of connections you need and work towards achieving it. Don’t disregard those that don’t seem useful at the moment but focus on getting the ones that you need most.

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        8. Reliability

        Olympic torch

          Reputation is crucial when developing a steady network and you need to live up to your reputation always. People with shifty track records do not go far in developing new connections because everyone does a background check before engaging with new business partner.

          9. Diversity

          Don’t be too narrow when making connections. Some of them might not be useful at first glance but they might come in handy when some of your other connections need them. A good network is solidified when all members have benefits from being a part of it.

          10. Social networks

          Keep up with the times and use the Web to reach people of interest. There are more than a few social networks intended for business, the best choices for professionals being LinkedIn and Google+. Don’t just post on Facebook and leave a few comments – try to connect with those influential in your industry and improve your knowledge at the same time. It’s important to note that a increasing your online presence will increase potential safety risks, so it would be a good idea to protect your information by using a VPN or Virtual Private Server, which helps encrypt your online activity. Keep in mind that information leaks are a big stain on anyone’s business career.

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          I hope this can help you develop a steady and useful network which will benefit everyone involved. Networking might take time and effort but, in the long run, it pays off and can resolve potentially difficult situations.

          Featured photo credit: Sony Pictures via sonypictures.com

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          Ivan Dimitrijevic

          Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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          Last Updated on November 19, 2019

          Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

          Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

          I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

          How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

          Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

          So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

          1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

          Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

          For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

          Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

          “When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

          2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

          These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

          This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

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          But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

          Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

          For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

          There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

          3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

          It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

          Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

          4. Use Your Phone Wisely

          Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

          If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

          5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

          If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

          In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

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          One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

          6. Use a “To Don’t” List

          We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

          But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

          Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

          7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

          When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

          Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

          “Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

          And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

          8. Be Concise

          Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

          One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

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          Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

          • Making new contacts
          • Talking about yourself at a job interview
          • Meeting people at conferences or parties
          • Phone calls to new clients

          9. Ask the Right Questions

          “You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

          How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

          When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

          Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

          Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

          10. Learn as Much as You Can

          You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

          Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

          “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

          11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

          No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

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          If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

          What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

          Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

          12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

          As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

          But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

          The Bottom Line

          The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

          Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

          More About Working Smart

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

          Reference

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