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Networking Tips For People Who Hate Networking

Networking Tips For People Who Hate Networking

Networking—not that again! Networking events are filled with desperate career climbers smarming up to smug high-flyers, eating pretentious canapés and agreeing like sycophantic, nodding dogs to any meaningless “advice”. OK, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it’s still a pointless exercise. Nobody really gets anything out of it, do they?

Actually, networking has grown up a lot in recent years. Online networking is gaining momentum, with sites like LinkedIn becoming increasingly important in a networking strategy. If you shudder at the thought of face-to-face networking, it might be time you looked at it from a different perspective.

The reason so many of us detest networking—and claim to be terrible at it—is because we’ve been doing it all wrong. It shouldn’t be about projecting a false and superficial image of yourself, telling everyone how fantastic you are or sucking up to people. It is about building valuable, lasting and mutually beneficial contacts, one by one. Here are some great tips to take on board if you want to become a networking whiz without selling yourself out.

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1. Adapt networking to suit you.

Ignore any networking advice that demands you must behave in a certain way. Forcing yourself to act in a way that isn’t natural to you won’t help anyone in the long term; you will still hate networking and everyone you connect with will get a warped idea of who you are. Also, ignore anyone who says that the big events are the best way to make connections. If you hate networking as it is, change it. Don’t like big crowds? Arrange one-to-one meetings. Not a talkative person? Listen instead.

2. Less is more.

Attending every event, meeting and talk won’t necessarily result in more contacts. You will be much more productive if you are selective about which events to attend. That way you can be more focused in what you want to get out of each meeting, rather than forcing yourself to attend event after event and becoming drained and uninspired.

3. Plan your first impression.

You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make it count. I’m not saying you need to plaster a false grin on your face and practice your handshake (although that is important), but think in more detail about conversation starters or other ways to initiate an interesting conversation. If you know specific individuals are going to be there who you want to get to know, find out a bit about them before you meet so that you will have something to talk about.

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4. Help out.

Many people dislike networking events because circulating with a group of strangers can be intimidating. Instead of standing awkwardly by the buffet, offer to help out. This will give you something to talk about and will also give people the impression that you’re helpful and selfless.

5. Get in line.

This is a clever tactic, but one that is bound to work. If you’re going to a networking event alone and have nobody to talk to—join the queue! Any queue: for the bar, the buffet, the toilets, you name it! Queuing is a very British activity and makes a good ruse for striking up conversation with the person in front or behind you. You effectively have a captive audience, and making conversation will come more naturally. There is also a limited time period, so if you accidentally get in the queue next to a complete bore, you know it will be over soon.

6. Set networking goals.

Heading to an event with a goal in mind will make you all the more productive. Try to aim for one or two useful connections, or if there is a specific person you want to meet there, aim to get their attention. Once you’ve achieved your goal, you can politely excuse yourself instead of hanging around, forcing conversation or overstaying your welcome.

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7. Show don’t tell.

Don’t bore people with rehearsed stories of how great you are. Rather, demonstrate your greatness in real life. Be friendly, greet others with a smile and offer to help out at every opportunity.

8. Research.

You wouldn’t turn up to an interview without preparing, so don’t make the same mistake at networking events. Find out in advance who is going to be there and which organizations will be good for you to connect with. If you have an idea of the companies and individuals you are likely to encounter, you will be less intimidated by the situation.

9. Listen.

Nerves often make people gabble their way through awkward situations. Have you ever been aware that everybody is talking but nobody is listening? Be the listener. The chances are people will remember you more for your attentive interest whilst they were talking than for your shouting over them. People are flattered when you pay attention to what they are saying, so you will no doubt form some good relationships from your listening ability.

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10. Follow-up or forget about it.

Networking events are only the beginning of a connection. If you don’t follow up with the people you met, there was no point in going in the first place. Follow up by adding your new connections on LinkedIn, dropping them an email or giving them a call. If you want to, you could even arrange a one-to-one meeting where you can get to know each other better.

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Published on September 18, 2018

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

Have there been instances when you noted a drop in your team’s productivity or observed a behavioral change in someone who used to be an excellent performer?

Before you blame the team for not being motivated enough or worse still, choose to ignore these warning signs, look inwards and ask yourself if YOU are doing enough to keep your team motivated in the first place.

Motivating employees is extremely crucial. As the leader of the pack, it is your responsibility to ensure each and every member of your team feels valued, driven and motivated.

After all, you cannot expect a bunch of disengaged and demotivated people to deliver results and grow your business, can you?

Here are 17 surefire tactics for motivating your employees and building a productive team:

1. Show your appreciation

In the whole race to achieve external business goals, leaders often forget to value their most important assets — their employees.

The least you can do to boost performance and morale is to appreciate your employees, recognize their efforts and give them credit when it is due.

Whether it’s sending a personalized note, recognizing achievements publicly during team huddles or even rewarding top performers at the end of every month, you will be surprised to see how these small acts of appreciation can go a long way.

2. Communicate effectively

Effective communication can do wonders in motivating employees. Who is a strong communicator? Someone who knows what they are talking about and are able to convey their message accurately.

Communication is a lot more than just language and talking. Factors such as eye contact, active listening, hand gestures and postures also say a lot about a person’s communication skills.

3. Be open to dialogue

Gone are the days when leading through fear and putting on the tough, distant leader act would work.

New age leadership is all about instilling trust by being accessible and encouraging discussions. Your team needs to feel comfortable speaking to you and you need to set the tone for such a camaraderie.

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In spite of having a busy schedule, you can still show you care through simple, effective acts.

For instance, having an open door policy, showing genuine interest while interacting with your employees or even greeting your team members helps breaking barriers and projects you as an accessible leader.

4. Provide constructive criticism

Giving negative feedback is always tricky — you don’t want to hurt feelings nor do you want the feedback to be taken lightly.

So, what do you do? The idea is to offer criticism such that it inspires change and delivers results.

Firstly, take criticism behind closed doors because nothing breaks self esteem the way calling out employees in public does.

Have a one-on-one discussion with the concerned person and make your feedback very specific. Be clear about your expectations and offer guidance on how they can improve.

Most importantly, give them the chance to explain their side of the story too instead of jumping to conclusions.

5. Conduct one-on-ones

Yes, you conduct weekly meetings with the team but how well do you know them on a personal level?

While you may think this isn’t an important practice to follow, it is one of the best ways to engage with your employees and identify what drives them.

Conduct a one-one-one session every month and use it to understand how your employees are doing and if they are facing any roadblocks.

More than reviewing performances, consider this as a relationship building tool to ensure you are aligned with your team and are working towards a shared, common goal.

6. Build training programs

In this ever-changing business landscape, it is important to ensure your employees are updated with the latest, relevant skills that can help boost productivity and performance.

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From imparting technical and soft skills to offering mentoring programs – investing in training and development significantly helps in motivating employees and keeps the learning going.

While conducting training programs, remember to keep them engaging and interactive. They need to ultimately drive value and reinforce learnings.

7. Offer growth opportunities

Every employee envisions a different career path for themselves and demotivation strikes the day they feel they have reached stagnation. As a leader, you need to first be aligned with their goals and offer ample growth opportunities that constantly keeps them engaged and motivated.

Growth opportunities go beyond just financial growth. While money is a huge driving factor, what makes most people tick is making progress in the company and going up the career ladder.

Being faced with new challenges and responsibilities lets them push the envelope and broaden their knowledge and skills.

8. Reward them

Go beyond verbal recognition and reward employees for their notable work. You can start an incentive program and reward top performers. This ensures increased productivity and brings out the best in them.

If you don’t have enough budgets for that, you can also reward top performers with movie tickets, a paid vacation or something as simple as giving them the option to work from home.

Rewarding employees promotes healthy competition and motivates them while meeting business goals.

9. Encourage team outings

Employee motivation also stems from how connected the team is. Invest time in team building because a team that works collaboratively is likely to deliver better results.

From bowling nights to hosting team dinners – team outings are a great way to get to know each other and bond. Assign someone from your team to be in charge of organizing these monthly outings and make sure you join them too!

10. Involve them

Involve your employees in decision making because when they are involved, they feel more valued and part of a larger cause.

Seek your team’s opinion and encourage healthy debates within the team. This boosts employee morale and challenges them to work harder as they know they are in a position to make an impact and will be taken seriously.

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11. Set meaningful goals

In the beginning of the financial year, make sure you sit down with each employee to set meaningful and realistic goals. The goal-setting conversation is an extremely crucial one and needs to be a two-way street.

Whether your employee feels burdened or doesn’t feel inspired enough by the assigned goals – this is the time to come to a consensus and assign goals derived from business objectives that foster individual development while keeping in mind their strengths and weaknesses.

12. Empower them

You cannot expect employees to be motivated for long if you micro manage the team and do all the talking.

Trust your employees and empower them to take decisions. Mistakes will happen but that is the only way they will learn.

Be open to discussions, delegate effectively, set your expectations and give your team the freedom to do it their way.

13. Deal with conflict

A conducive work environment is one wherein there is open communication and trust, but every once in a while, you do encounter people in the team who indulge in office politics and spread negativity.

How much ever fulfilled an employee feels with their work, gossiping co-workers are bound to ruin it for them. Workplace gossip if not tackled hampers productivity and soils working relations.

As a responsible leader, you need to maintain a conducive work environment and act as a mediator in such cases. Don’t be the leader who is locked up in his/her cabin and is unaware of what is brewing within the team.

14. Implement a flexible work culture

Flexible work cultures are a growing trend and are here to stay.

Whether it is offering flexible working hours or allowing employees to work from home once in a month – a flexible work culture promotes work-life balance and aids in employee satisfaction.

It shows that the management is sensitive to employees’ schedules and is thereby highly appreciated.

15. Host engaging activities

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and we cannot agree more! So, why not devote one day of the week to employee engagement activities?

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From hosting baking competitions to introducing wellness programs in the office – let your team have some fun beyond work. This keeps the environment engaging, light-hearted and interesting, giving them all the more reason to look forward to coming to work.

16. Maintain a positive work space

Your employees spend more than half their day at work and in order to keep them energized and motivated, it is important to maintain a positive and inspiring work space.

Have a recreation center where employees can unwind after a hard day’s work, offer free snacks and beverages and invest in an open office design that promotes socializing and conversations.

These are simple yet effective ways to create a space your employees will love coming to.

17. Avoid discrimination

Any kind of discrimination, be it due to age, gender, religion or race hugely impacts employee motivation and performance.

In order to avoid such cases, you must lay down rules against discrimination and take strict action against accused employees. Lead by example and make sure no one in the team is a victim of bias and discrimination.

The bottom line

Don’t underestimate the power of motivating employees. Understand that the more engaged and motivated they are, the better their performance will be.

It is also a good idea to send out a survey and get feedback from your employees on the company culture, work environment and their motivation levels.

This will help you be more aligned with their expectations and further improve your efforts in building a stronger, engaged team.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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