Archive for the ‘Small Busines’ Category

New Year Networking – 10 tips to fast track networking results in 2012

January 1, 2012

Happy New Year! I can’t believe how quickly the last year has flown – and on reflection there were lots of great opportunities that I took and of course some that I missed. So this year I want to be sure that I capitalise on the connections that I made in the last twelve months, reconnect with some past clients who didn’t need my services in 2011 and also continue to grow a list of potential clients/prospects for 2012 and beyond.

Maybe you are in the same boat, so I thought I would share 10 tips I am introducing to grow my network in 2012 and get fast results.

1. It’s time to do a networking audit – just how large is your network, how up to date is your database, how long since you have made contact with current and past clients, prospects and your peers?  With your audit, you are really wanting to identify your A class connections – the people who you will connect/reconnect with in the next 30-45 days and with a clear plan for the next 12 months. You also want to identify the B class network – those people who may not need your services immediately, but they are prospects and your contact with them, will be slightly different from your A class plan.

2.  Identify the sphere of influence in your networks – those key connectors and leaders who have the capacity to influence and network with multiple people. I often use the analogy if you want to get 100 people to attend a charity event, you don’t have to ask 100 people individually. I recommend that you invite 10-12 spheres of influence to book a table of 10 and give them lots of reasons why it will be worth the trouble. It goes without saying that you of course deliver 110% at the event and give them lots of recognition as a supporter of the event.

3. Allocate a networking budget for the year. There may be some months when your expenses are high e.g. I attend my peer group’s conference – Meetings Events Australia www.mea.org.au  And I know in April when I attend their conference in Sydney this year, there will be flights, accommodation and the conference itself – but I also know my return on attendance is 100% guaranteed based on previous results. Ideally you want to attend a least two business networking events every month. Some of these opportunities might be social or sporting opportunities – parties, sporting events, your children’s school events – so do think beyond the traditional business networks. Often some community events are free or very low cost and can give you access to many community locals. But without a budget and an intention to network, you will definitely miss opportunities to grow your business.

4.  Which network is best for you? Primarily the answer to that question is where do your clients or prospects go? Its great to network with your peers, and I do recommend that you join your industry association or network. But if you want to network with decision makers you will need to do your homework on which networks fit your criteria. e.g. potential clients attend, it is within your budget, geographically possible and the time and day of the event suit your schedule. I recommend that you don’t join any network until you have attended the events at least twice. The first time everything is different and you are sometimes out of your comfort zone. However, the second time you attend, you are more familiar with the format and will probably form a clearer decision on the benefits of being a member. In some cases, you may feel the network is not quite what you are after, you may be better to just pay the non members rate and attend meetings in an ad hoc manner. Usually though when you make a commitment to join a network, the fellow members are a lot keener to do business with you.

4. Allocate follow up time post event. One of the big mistakes many people make with face to face networking is not allocating sufficient time post event to follow up with the people that they have met. I always make notes on the backs of the business cards I exchange with the date I met the person, where I met them and something I remember about them – what i call the WOW – the thing that is unique to them. What I also do when that is not possible in a crowded room, and I know that I want to follow up with that person, is to gently fold the corner of their business card when I put it in my pocket or handbag. Then at the end of the night or the next day when I check the cards, I immediately know which person/s are expecting to be followed up.

5. Keep a monthly self networking tracker. I have been using a tracker for years and find it really helpful. Allocate one monthly tracker for each month. At the start of the month you write down at least 3 networking things you intend to do. At the  end of the month record the networking activity you did do. Often what you planned to do is not what you ended up doing and that is fine. I also record the names of the key players/spheres of influence that I met that month and my intention is to keep in touch with them on a regular basis – not just  for what they can do for me, but what I can do for them as well. I then list 3 things I plan to do the next month and finally the $$ value of business this month I can track from past networking. It’s great to be able to identify where your new business comes from and make the connections and links if it is a referral.

6. Allocate LinkedIn time every day/week – I love LinkedIn – and I am continually amazed at the improvements that are continually being made to their systems. I am close to 4,000 connections now and I do put the time in to building my connections – at least 15 minutes a day. Some days I do more but I have certainly had my return on investment from this system. I do have a complimentary ebook you can download, from my website www.networkingtowin.com.au – why I love LinkedIn and how I went from zero to 2500 in twelve months.

7. Volunteering is a fun way to network! For the second year in a row, I volunteered at a Christmas day lunch for homeless people at Labrador on the Gold Coast. A great mate of mine Susie Christie is the visionary behind the event. This year we had more than 150 volunteers for the 130 plus homeless people – so they were more than looked after with a great lunch, gifts, entertainment and hospitality. We have arranged a volunteers drink next week as a thank you and let’s see what else we can do in 2012. I compare volunteering and the trust that is built very quickly, to going to a football final and meeting people who support the same team. The bond of trust is built immediately, there are no job titles, no hierarchies, everyone is equal, and everyone is there to support a cause and give freely of their time.

8. Speed of response  – whether it’s returning phone calls, responding to emails, sending proposals, quotes etc. I believe the early bird really does catch the worm these days. We are in a wired world and expectations for quick responses are there – even if they are not verbalised. Often, if a query comes in over the phone – whether its a local, national or international query, I will often pick the phone and call them directly. More often than not you get a decision on the spot and the return email ends up being a confirmation of a booking. I have also found that people are online at all hours of the day, so if I do get a query on the weekend or after hours and I happen to be online, I will often email my phone number and say they are welcome to phone between a certain time frame if they wish. Not everyone takes up the offer, but the feedback is they do appreciate the opportunity.

9. Flexibility – who knows where our marketplace will end up in 2012? There is much financial uncertainty globally and it is inevitable that there will be some flow on to Australia. Not to mention potential natural disasters – hopefully we won’t have anymore of those in Australia – but no doubt this community or other communities throughout Australia will be negatively affected at some time in 2012. For the last couple of years (since the global financial crisis actually) when someone asks me, “what is your fee?” I respond with, well that depends what you are after, what your budget is and what are you wanting to achieve? I then try to flexibly create a program for them that meets their criteria, within their budget and time frame. And the reality is that sometimes I refer the work to others and sometimes I waive my fee totally and come up with other potential income options for the client. At the end of the day, we are problem solvers. Someone needs a removalist, a new car, a doctor, a real estate agent, a pest exterminator, a networking speaker – that is their problem. And we provide the solution – ideally within their anticipated budget, time frame and expectations.

And if we do a great job and exceed their expecations, then they are more than likely to refer us to their network. I call this the trilogy of trust, the trust that one person has in another, that is passed on to the third party. It really is the life time value of the client.

10. Pick up the phone! Email, the internet and social media are brilliant time savers. But too many people hide behind email or use it as their only marketing tool. They send out proposals and wait, and wait and wait. As a baby boomer, I have been in the workforce for 40 years, I was working in the sales and business development areas long before the advent of email. And much as I love email, it can make you a lazy sales person or staff member. Pick up the phone – have a conversation with a live person who is interested in your product or service. They won’t bite and you will have an opportunity to answer any queries that they have, clarify your offer, find out if you have been shortlisted for the job and when they are actually going to be making a decision.

My wish for you in 2012 is that you have more fun with your networking, your life and your friends. This current market may well be the “new normal” and one thing I know for sure is that networking will open any door in the world for you.  Your reputation is everything and it can be destroyed in a blink. But I believe if we live and work in integrity and work in an honest, fair and ethical manner we will attract like minded peers and clients to build better communities and strong alliances that can last a lifetime. Happy 2012.

Networking & Sporting Events – a great combination

October 4, 2011

What a great time of year to be networking with all the sporting finals and the World Cup happening. Last week was a great opportuntiy to reconnect with a number of clients who are football mad – even if their teams ere not in the finals. Pre-game everyone has an opinion on which team will win and why. And of course it’s another story post-game – “if that last goal had not hit the post”, or “they truly just missed out” – and so it goes.

I was very fortunate to learn a valuable  lesson from one of my early mentors Doug Malouf, 20 years ago when I first started speaking professionally. I was checking in with Doug after a big presentation I had given. And I made the comment, that they were all raving on about the cricket results and I really had no interest at all.

And I will never forget his words, “Robyn, it’s not about YOU, it’s about your audience.” If they are interested in cricket for whatever reason, it is important to them, get interested. I pleaded that I didn’t understand the game, “so ask them to explain it to you. Robyn, what will get you through your speaking career is always knowing the two teams at the top of the ladder and the bottom of the ladder – across all codes. Scan the sporting pages, and even if you don’t totally understand the game, you can always ask the question – what you do think about XYZ? (whoever was in the headlines that day).

I always took on board Doug’s suggestions, what’s the point of having a mentor if you don’t listen to them? So the next presentation I gave, remembering this was the early ’90s, when pagers were around, I came back from the break with the latest cricket score – 4 for 198. I didn’t exactly know what it meant – but the audience were delighted to hear it. 

  In the next few weeks Australia will stop for 3 minutes (plus) for the running of the Melbourne Cup. Why not consider running a sweep for your clients? Decide on a budget for prizes 1st, 2nd, 3rd and last placed horses. The prizes need not be expensive gifts – maybe some of your clients would donate a few prizes for the sweep and vice versa.

Make contact  with your clients the day prior to the Melbourne Cup telling them about the sweep and advise you will email them their house on the morning of the Cup. Have fun on Melbourne Cup Day and of course you will need to email them the day after to advise who had the winning horses. Don’t be surprised if when you make that first or second contact, the client  says something like, “we were just talking about you the other day, saying we would have to get more “widgets” (whatever your product or service is).

Good networking is based on great communication and staying connected. Have fun with the Melbourne Cup sweep – and look for an event in your local community to celebrate the race – it’s always a fun event and you never know who you might meet on the day.

Have fun, be friendly and most of all value your connections.

QR Codes on Business Cards – very cool! Plus some other great networking ideas. . .

August 30, 2011

I love seeing innovation – and tonight I saw some really cool ideas. I spoke at the BRW Fast Club networking event – it was a fun event with approximately 100 people at the beautiful L’Aqua restaurant at Cockle Bay. Fast Club is a brilliant successful entrepreneurs network with a specific criteria for membership – and tonight networking and connections was the focus.

We divided the night into three specific networking streams and encouraged networking activity without  a “sales pitch” – just connect and communicate – and find out about the people you are meeting, exchange cards, offer ideas, encouragement and connect with others if you can.

It was great to give people some really simple systems such as men putting their business cards in their top coat pocket and when they exchange cards, put their own cards at the front and the others person’s card at the back. And for the women without pockets to hold their cards in the hand and put their card at the front and the other person’s card at the back. And most importantly with the person they were going to follow up with, gently turn up the corner of their card as a reminder to make that connection. And then of course I shared the statistics on following up post networking events – would you believe less than 10% of people actually follow up after they attend networking events.

Some people were hesitant to give out their business cards in case they didn’t think they had any need for the person’s service – but I explained that we are NOT our business cards or our businesses for that matter. And no one wears a sign saying be really nice to me, I am going to introduce you to your next partner, boss, biggest client, best friend. We do have lives outside work and finding that interest can be such a great way to find common ground with someone and build a foundation for future networking.

Now to the cool ideas,  Shayne De La Force and Belinda May from TNA Australia Pty. Ltd www.tnasolutions.com (who recently won a BRW award) had a QR code on the back of their business card – this was the first time I had seen that – and a very clever idea.

Ivana and the BRW team had created a very cool networking wall – building on an idea I had seen at a conference, Ivana had invited guests to send a photos to her team, who then created a pouch with a photo of the guest, their name and company name and then a slot to put business cards. All the pouches and photos, were displayed on a networking wall and the idea was that anyone who missed meeting someone they were interested in connecting with, could include their business card in the pouch and then be followed up by the person in the next 48 hours. Such a simple system, but a brilliant networking tool. PLUS people had the opportunity to see exactly who was in the room, what they looked like and what they did.

Another great business card idea was by Gary Ng, CEO of E-Web Marketing www.ewebmarketing.com.au Gary has a very cool photo of his little son, dressed in a Superman outfit with a tag line – “Talk to us today on how to grow your business to new heights.” A great combination of passion and business.

And finally Brendan and David from Business Aspect in Brisbane, www.businessaspect.com.au took a photo of my business card on their iphone and then scanned it into the phone and voila – all the contact details instantly in the database. I love technology.

Well done BRW Fast Club for an excellent networking event – let’s hope those referrals start flowing in the next month or so for all attendees.

Happy networking until next time.

Tonight I spoke at the

What do you take to a business networking event?

August 14, 2011

Now some of you might be thinking, well I take some business cards, and some blank cards (in case I meet someone who doesn’t have a card on them), a pen, a notebook. What I would like to talk about with this blog are the non visible or non obvious things you take to a networking event or to work everyday – these include:

1. Your connections – all the people that you know from years, months and weeks ago, people you currently and previously worked with, your friends, current and past bosses, neighbours, school friends, people you have studied with, your LinkedIn and social media connections.  Yet no one is wearing a sign saying be really  nice to me, I am going to introduce you to your next boss, partner, flatmate, best friend, employee or connection. That is why it pays to be friendly to everyone – you never know who they know!

2. Your current and past roles/jobs/careers – you may be studying, even retired – but you still have loads of current and past experience. Not every job we are doing, is currently utilising ALL the skills we have. And sometimes a chance conversation triggers a discussion about something we do know about that is not necessarily obvious with our current job title.

3. Your passions and special interests – whether your passions include something as obscure as  breeding peach faced parrots or mainstram as following a local Aussie Rules, Rugby Union or Rugby League team – very few people have a solo passion – there are always others who have similiar passions. And again if we are at a business network, unless we are a guy wearing a rugby tie (which is a dead giveaway or our passion) or a Rotarian wearing a Rotary badge, our passions are not always obvious. Yet asking someone what they do outside of work and what they are interested in can start an entire conversation stream. And before we know it we have built trust through communication.

We are made up of  all 3 areas and if we were to put a value on the little piece where all three areas overlap – it would be PRICELESS.

How? Well let’s imagine that Hawaii is one of your favourite holiday locations – you have been there many times, visited all the Hawaian islands, know all the best deals available, where to stay, eat, what is worth seeing and where to shop. You know ALL the bits that are NOT in the guide books.

Now let’s imagine that Sue is going to Hawaii for the first time, has planned a 14 day holiday and is now overwelmed with where to go and what to do? Would you think that 10 minutes of YOUR time might set Sue on the right path and save her money, time and energy.

That’s where the definition of priceless comes in. Your knowledge, life experiences, connections, wisdom, current and past jobs, passions and special interests are PRICELESS.

So, the next time you go to a networking event – never ever allow yourself to feel intimidated – you have so much to share with anyone and everyone you meet. Network, have fun, befriend strangers – and never be surprised how much value people may place on your expertise.

5 ways to end a strategic alliance

August 14, 2011

Once you identify that one or more of your strategic alliances is going nowhere, here are some ideas to end your strategic alliance:

1. Have an open and honest discussion about the current situation with all the allies

2. Clarify the WHY? – what are we doing this? and the WHAT? what do we want to achieve for each individual?

3. Make a clean break – with no loose threads

4. Finish/close the alliance amicably and regroup with a different or revised line up of players

5. Remember the “project” concept and the time frame recommendation. This alliances may have served it’s purpose and its time to finish it.

Tell tale signs your strategic alliances is not working or needs a revamp!

August 14, 2011

It’s a great idea to treat stategic alliances as projects – with a start date and a finish date. Often when people have open ended alliances, members can tire of each other and even get to the point of sabotaging the success of the alliance. Tell tale signs include:

1. No meetings

2. No shows at meetings

3. Actions post meeting regularly not completed

4. Endless excuses for non actions or non attendance

5. Allies are linked or have a stronger link with a competitor and did not declare this potential conflict of interest

6. Requests to change the original rules of the alliance

7. Key player/driver leaves

8. Playing the blame game

If any of these situations are showing up in your alliances, it’s time to take some action NOW! Don’t waste another meeting or your valuable time.

Which networks should I join?

July 11, 2011

Before you can answer this question, it is best to answer the following questions:

* Which networks are your current clients and prospects attending?

* How much time do you have available each week/fortnight/month to commit to a network?

* Based on your current commitments, what is the best time of dayand the best day of the week  for you to attend a networking event?

* Why do you want to attend a networking event?

* What specifically are you wanting to achieve?

* How will you make this happen?

Once you are totally clear on your answers to the above questions your choice will be easy. My rule of thumb is to try before you buy. Most professional networks will allow you to attend one or more meetings as a “guest” . May I suggest that you attend with an open mind – the first time you attend anything you can feel a little out of your comfort zone. However, if you thought the network had potential, always return at least once or twice to see if this network really suits your criteria for prospects before you decide whether you will become a member.

Personally, I find if I see clients at a networking event, it is great to reconnect in a non-pressured and informal way. And if this is a network that my clients are attending, chances are there may be some potential prospects there too. And if I am ever pressured to join a network, it is usually my exit sign. No one wants to be sold to – and if the network is professionally run, attracts lots of interesting people, there is no need to sell it – there will be queues to join.

Some of the networks that I have attended in the past and encourage others to attend include:

Womens Network Australia –  www.womensnetwork.com.au

  BNI Business Network International – www.bni.com

BRG – Business Referral Group – www.brg.com

Associations Forum www.associations.net.au a network for the Executive Officers of Not For Profit Associations

Meetings Events Australia – www.mea.org.au a network for people in the Meetings and Events Industry

Network Central – www.networkcentral.com.au

Terri Coopers Network – www.terricooper.comm.au

And I encourage you also to consider the Business Enterprise Centres and the Chamber of Commerces throughout Australia.

Of course there are industry specific networks – Institute of Chartered Accountants, Banking and Finance Professionals, Women in Technology, Women in Finance etc. and again it pays to be an active members of your relevant institute or association.

From past experience, I have found that every now and then, you walk into a new network, and decide “This is my TRIBE” – these are the people that I am wanting to network with forever. You join on the spot and become a very active member. Where do you find these networks? Well you might like to start with answering the questions from the start of the article and use your answers to guide your choice.

You may also think a little bit laterally about your choice of networks – consider networking is also possible at sporting events, special interest groups, political groups – wherever you find people with mutual interests.

And finally, no matter which networks you attend, always remember the basics:

*Act like the host not the the guest

*Ask question and listen to the answers

* And most of all follow up without being pushy.

5 Reasons Why Strategic Alliances Can Sometimes Fail

June 5, 2011

“To go fast, go alone. To go far, go together.” African proverb.

In today’s competitive marketplace, businesses and careers prosper through strategic alliances. So before we talk about why they sometimes fail, let’s define what a strategic alliance is.

Strategic alliances occur when two or more people come together for mutual gain. Some alliances are more formal and structured than others. I like to refer to alliances as “projects” with a set time line – rather than an alliance. The expectation with alliances is often that they are open ended and will last forever. This can often be one of the reasons why the alliance does not get off the ground as the participants can be overwelmed with that never ending alliance concept. If the alliance is treated as a project with a start and finish – or a six month trial with this project with a “Let’s see how this alliance/project works for six months” – can often increase the potential results.

Yet my research has shown that there are a number of warning signs if your alliances don’t seem to be going anywhere. It might be time for you to do a strategic alliance audit and see if you can identify with any of these warning signs:

1. NO TRUST – allies are reluctant to share ideas and support. This might be due to strangers being grouped together and told to form an alliance. This sometimes happens in organisations where two or more teams are brought together with no mutual connection. Alternately, there is previous negative history that has influenced the lack of trust. To resolve non trust in an alliance, its important to put all the cards on the table – and communicate clearly and succintly towards resolution. e.g. “John, I know that  we had our differences when we worked together back in XYZ company. Is there a way we can draw a line in the sand today with this project and move towards a mutual win/win situation? Or should we finish this alliance now and save each other a lot of time and energy?” Sometimes I suggest to clients with a no trust alliance, that they go out for lunch with the allies and get to know each other better. Finding common ground with allies can turn around an alliance that is going nowhere.

2. NO DRIVER – lots of great ideas, but no one actually creating an action plan or moving the alliance forward. Firstly, the problem needs to be put on the table. “We are not getting anywhere with this, what do we need to do to make it happen?” If the project/alliance can be broken down into stages, then people can nominate how involved they wish to be in each stage. And again if there are no volunteers for completion or driving – then its best to dissolve this alliance. Worldwide, there are no shortage of great ideas, but executing a great idea does take a plan and action.

3. NO RESOURCES – Lots of great ideas, but either no time, expertise or money to execute the alliance. A good use of your allies time may be to brainstorm other people who could become involved with your project who may have the expertise or who may sponsor the project on a win/win basis. Also establishing what priority this project has. If it is a number one priority, then are the potential resources being spent on something else? Possibly putting the project on hold for review in 3 or 6 months may unearth more resources.

4. LACK OF CULTURAL AWARENESS – In this global marketplace, this is a “biggie”. Organisations bring in a multi-cultural workforce or international students being brought into a university – without significant cultural diversity training being given to current staff members. This can result in major insults unknowingly happening. When I first started to work within the Asian community in the ’90s, I made many mistakes with business cards and protocol purely through ignorance. Fortunately, I had some wonderful clients who  gently pointed out my errors. Yes does not necessarily mean “YES” – it often means I understand you, NOT – I am agreeing to do this. It is worth engaging a  multi cultural adviser to either be part of the alliance or highlight for you what is possible and appropriate within this alliance. Again clear communication is critical and apologising sincerely for any previous errors.

5. DIFFERENT VALUES –  Beware the cowboys! I describe this potential ally as someone who wants to ride on your coat tails. They are keen to use your organisation’s name and reputation to further their own career. Charities are often targetted by the cowboys, who are full of promises and very elaborate plans, but the bottom line is that YOU and your organisation will not initially gain from this alliance – it at all. The full gain is with the cowboy – who will “use” your database and good will in the marketplace. You will be promised lots of things, but your results are always delayed, and the cowboys are always immediate. Unfortunately, the cowboys do operate an unethical model and move from one unsuspecting ally to another. Trust your gut feeling, if it doesn’t feel right and sounds way too good to be true – it probably is. Do your due diligence on their previous allies and don’t spare their feelings when confronting cowboys about their previous reputation. They will often have a big story about being misunderstood. Bottom line, if in doubt – don’t – no matter how good the offer seems.

Another values area that will definitely lead to failure is dishonesty or not telling the truth. Part of the rules of engagement from the start need to be an agreement for total honesty in all cases – no exceptions. The minute this is abused, the alliance is doomed to failure. 

HONESTY = CLEAR COMMUNICATION = RESULTS 

And at the end of the day, if you are on the wrong road, you are on the wrong road. If the alliance is not working and you have tried to get it on track without success, cut your losses.

Strategic alliances are a great way to boost your career or business. However, they need time, effort and commitment. The results will be worth it – and if you aim for quality alliances, not quantity -you may find the results astound you.

 Happy Networking!

How i grew my LinkedIn connections from zero to 2200+ in 12 months

March 30, 2011

I hate to admit it, but at the start of 2010, I avoided social media and specifically LinkedIn – not fully understanding how it worked. Then I saw the light – well specifically Iggy Pintado, who showed me the error of my social media ways – and as they say – the rest is history. Am very proud to say that 12 months down the track – I am very close to 2200 connections and growing. Mind you Iggy has well over 18,000 and rapidly growing, so I have a long way to go. In my networking presentations, I have been asking how many people are on LinkedIn – interestingly these days more than 50% raise their hands. Then my second question is, keep your hand up if you have more than 500 connections on LinkedIn. Less than 10% of the people fit this catergory. When I tell people I have over 2,000 connections and have built those in 12 months, the question is often HOW did you do that?

So what have I learned about LinkedIn in the last twelve months?

13 things I know for sure:

1. Definitely upgrade to the premium account – lots more benefits and features.

2. Spend at least 30 minutes per day on LinkedIn. I am currently spending three to five hours per week and I have to admit some days I miss out totally and catch up the next day. One of the great things about LinkedIn is that its a 24/7 facility so if I am travelling or on a different time zone, I can access it at anytime of day. Something that I often do on weekends, while I am watching a DVD or television show is to multi-task by scanning connections lists and sending invitations.

Mind you the first time I actually looked through someone’s connection list, I felt like I was prying. Then I realised that was how the system worked – and it ceases to amaze me the mutual connections that you can have with a new or old connection.

3. Visibility is key with LinkedIn – so the more active you are the better. I enjoy answering questions obviously that I know the answer to or have an opinion on. There seem to be two schools of thought with Q&A – some just go for volume answers to lots and lots of questions  – the more the merrier, but not always relevant or significant responses. Others seem to just answer a few questions here and there, but give thoughtful answers. I would describe myself in that category. And some people don’t participate at all. Again it depends on your personal interests and time availability – but I am always looking to learn new things and share information where I can.

4. Also what I have found is that often the people whose questions you answer, strike up a communication with you and often invite you to connect with them and vice versa.  Plus the responses that have already been given, give you insight into other people, whose opinions you agree or disagree with. And of course you can ask questions as well.

5. Polls are another  great LinkedIn tool – I have run a few polls to date and have been pleased with the results. Obviously it depends what question you want to ask and how relevant it is to the general public. I have found viewing the results of polls you answer very interesting  and often people make contact after your responses. Again an opportunity to expand your network.

6. Active participation in groups is also another great way to expand your connections. I try to be an active member in the groups I am part of, whether it is just keeping track of the current conversations and discussions or starting discussions myself. One of the discussions that had the greatest response was the suggestion that smart networking was linking and connecting with each other, so that the group would continue to expand. Many of the groups also have opportunities to promote your business under a specific promotion button. And these days LinkedIn recommends groups that you may be interested in.

7. Spending time on your profile page is also avaluable use of time. The old saying – the more you tell the more you sell – really nails it here.  You just don’t know who is clicking on your profile and where that may lead to. Again LinkedIn has a great system where it shows you how much of the profile you have completed. Aim for 100% profile completion.

8. In my networking presentations, I always recommend that people aim to give at least one referral per week to someone in your network. LinkedIn has a great tool where you can give a recommendation to someone you know. To me this is a testimonial, which in the networking world is almost as good as a referral. I aim to send testimonials regularly to my connections.

I have a theory though, the people who ASK for testimonials are not good at giving them. I have proven this theory a number of times by checking someone’s profile and seeing how many recommendations they give. So often, I remind the person requesting a recommendation from me, of the law of reciprocity – what you give out comes back ten fold. If you want recommendations start giving recommendations.

9. Events is another great LinkedIn feature.  Not only do you get to see what events are happening in your area, you can also promote your events. I have been running Writing For Busy People 1 day workshops for the last six months and have connected with people via LinkedIn – that I may never have crossed paths with elsewhere.

10. Just a word of advice when sending invitations to connect. Lazy networking is sending the standard – I’d like you to join my professional network. I think one of the reasons that my connections has grown is that I use a variety of invitation styles:

a. for people who I knew years ago, I write – A blast from the past – great to find you on LI, hope all is well in your world. All the best for 2011. Would like to add you to my professional network.

b. for people who are part of a group I am in . We are both members of XYZ group, have checked out your profile and would like you to join my network.

c.  a word of warning with classifying people as friends. I have researched people’s responses when they receive an invitation to connect with someone they describe as “friend” – A really important point is that LinkedIn is NOT facebook. If you dont know someone or you have only vaguely met them – don’t click “friend”. I am blessed to meet lots of great people when I speak all over the country, but “friends” are people who I speak to regularly, usually call at least once every couple of weeks and see once a month. So just be careful with your classifications and if in doubt don’t.

11. Another system I use probably 80% of the time these days, unless I am very busy – is to send a message to the person who has invited me to connect. Usually something like – “thanks for inviting me to connect. If you would like to download some  complimentary networking articles and ebooks, you might like to visit www.networkingtowin.com.au” . I didn’t do this probably for the first 1000 connections, silly me – but now I do and this has definitely increased my website traffic.

12.  If you google your name, often your LinkedIn details are the first listings to come up. It then makes sense the more connections you have the more visible your profile.

13. Seth Godin is well known for his “build your tribe” theory and I totally agree with this theory. Some say, go for quality not quantity, how can you know all these people? However, I believe that the stronger you grow your connections, the more you expand your connections, the closer you bring the world to your doorstep.

All the best with building your LinkedIn connections, and if you are not part of my network, please send me an invitation.

Happy networking until next time.

“It’s time” by Tobias Sedillos

January 13, 2011

Happy 2011

Via LinkedIn, I connected with Tobias Sedillos, who sent me a fantastic poem, that I would like to share with you.

“It’s Time.”

I once asked an old man to say something wise,
and the words that unfolded – were a welcome surprise.
He started by saying, “Tell me, son – What is it you seek?”
“Success in hurry,” I blurted, “because my future looks bleak!”
“Times are tough.” I continued, with a little regret.
Because what he said next, I will never forget.

“If quick success is what you seek to find,
it’s already been found – and it’s a matter of time.
You say ‘times are tough’ – and now look at this clock.
There’s more to these hands than the tick and the tock.
You see only one hand in motion, but I can see all three.
It’s the way all things work, just take it from me.

The ‘Seconds’ hand moves fast, so it’s easy to spot;
Soon you’ll recognize it’s the seed, to plant in your plot.
Most see ‘small’ as insignificant, but I know it’s the start;
for your very life lives with the small beats of your heart.
If those never started, or continued – Then where would you be?
Nothing’s insignificant, you see – because seeds become trees.
Your seeds are the small actions that you must eagerly take;
the seconds sprout into minutes – the right time to cultivate.

Keep on moving here, because it takes time and vital care;
we all know who won the race of the Tortoise and Hare.
It wasn’t because the Tortoise was slow that he won the race,
he proved, ‘steady’ fares better than any back-breaking pace.
Minutes are the well-formed habits that add-up to become Hours,
just like seeds become buds, and then those become flowers.

This is a tough time for many – in fact, most will quit.
See, our culture has taught that good results must always come quick.
‘If you’re doing it right – you’ll see results right away.’
But, that’s not the way things work – I’m sorry to say.
Cultivation comes before the harvest – It has always been this way!

As the Seconds become Minutes, soon the Hours will begin to pass.
You’re on the track to success, just check your looking glass.
Your looking glass is in your mind’s eye – and only you can see it there,
Look there for your results, or else you’ll begin to look elsewhere.
Consistency with a purpose is what you are after,
and vision for outcomes is what you will master.
The fruit of the harvest, has arrived in your mind,
taste it, and feel it – it’s the best of it’s kind.
Hours and fruit, you’ll have all you need,
Minutes of nourishment, and Seconds of seed.

Although success can’t be hurried, it can be assured.
Don’t be like the others – who’s vision got blurred.
The key to getting started, is to start right away.
Don’t be like the rest – getting started ‘someday’.
Someday never comes, I can say without doubt.
See the tears in my eyes? My time has run out.

Success is not a secret: You have all you need!
It’s your time to get started: Now you are my seed!
You’ve asked for success, and now have the keys in mind,
it’s not about talent, luck, or even hard work – you’ll find;
Success is just a series of simple small steps, repeated in time.”

~ By Tobias Sedillos

If you enjoyed this poem as much as I did – please feel free to share it with your network.

Have fun networking in 2011.

Robyn Henderson