Posts Tagged ‘schmoozing’

Networking is an art.  It takes some time to cultivate the connections and the methodologies.  Networking should not be done just for the sake of collecting contacts, but with forethought – a goal in mind.  The excuses that some people use to NOT network are just holding them back.  You don’t have to be an extrovert or an “E” on the Myers-Briggs personality scale to be able to connect with people.  Even introverts can network if they understand the reasons and tactics behind the science of networking.

You have to make a conscious decision of what you want to accomplish by networking.  Let’s say it is to make contact with certain professionals at specific companies in which you are interested in working.  Perhaps you just want information about what the culture is like at a specific company or you want to know about their business prospects for the next six to 12 months.  You network in order to gain valuable information to position yourself as the person they want to hire next.

Networking can be done anywhere and at any time.  Here are some tips:

  • Use social skills – make eye contact, have a firm handshake – web to web, smile, and nod your head
  • Attend functions – seminars, workshops, conferences, lectures and group meetings, job fairs, entrepreneurial events, business launches
  • Join professional organizations in or related to your career path
  • Create a killer profile and put it up on LinkedIn, Google Profile or other professional sites
  • Use social media to get yourself out there – Facebook. Twitter, etc.
  • Read blogs and comment on them
  • Create your own blog and share your knowledge
  • Listen to Podcasts and join the discussions
  • Start working your existing network in order to create more useful connections
  • Shy people can network just as easily as extroverts by being great listeners – everyone else loves to talk about themselves
  • Network with everyone, not just people in your field of expertise or knowledge

I started attending regular sessions on Podcasts and discussion groups.  The purpose was to network and to build my brand in order to create a buzz.  This is one method you can use when you want to get out there.  You could try attending business presentations and try your hand at business small talk.  You start with listening intently and then move onto offering your opinion.  One always networks with a purpose and it pays off.

Remember, networking is not done for just for networking sake.  The idea is to gain useful contacts who can further you in your career path.  It works both ways.  People will want to connect to you for your contacts, knowledge, position and expertise as well.  You soon become known as a subject matter expert and are in hot demand, all because you are networking.

I network online, in person, on the phone and via email.  Many people only use one or two forms of communication.  Don’t forget those old contacts that you have not spoken with in a long time.  What about the people whom you worked with four or five jobs ago?  All of these contacts need to be nurtured, cultivated and worked upon, like a garden.  Networking takes work and is a job that should be in constant motion.

To become an efficient networker, like Queen Schmooze, you need to put in the effort.  Your return on investment will show when colleagues will turn to you as a valuable resource.  Managers will notice your efforts and promotions will be forthcoming.  Other people in your field will look to you for your knowledge.  You will be asked for your opinion as a Subject Matter Expert.  The rewards for your hard work are countless, so why not start today!  Networking is easy when you put in the effort.  

Here is my presentation on Networking: Learning How to Network Final

The Art of the Argument

You attend a networking event and someone says something that you know is obviously wrong.  You have just been introduced to person X and you do not want to get into an argument about the subject.  So the real question here is – do you argue your point of view or walk away?!

When networking, you need to keep an open perspective.  You may be an expert in your field, but do not forget the whole point of the event.  You are there to NETWORK which means that it is NOT about you at all.  We are all interested in ourselves and self promotion, but at a networking event, the people who impress us most are the ones who ask questions because they want to know more.  By asking questions you are showing that you are interested and thereby appear interesting.  We make connections with people who align themselves with our ideas.

If you as the job seeker, entrepreneur, marketer, business developer or idea prospector, ask questions and show true interest (not feigned) then the likelihood of you getting into an argument is small.  How does one know that this works?  You ask questions to illicit the other person’s point of view (POV).   This allows you to express that you have a solution to their problem.  The object is to find common ground whereby you can, at a later date, pursue the conversation.  Isn’t the point of contacts and networking to talk to the person outside of the current venue about ideas that you both have in common?  Why create waves (unless they are Google Waves) when you want to build alliances?

If you are really determined to get your concept across, then develop a strategy ahead of time.  This does NOT mean being scripted, but refers to knowing your subject matter inside and out.  When you are arguing you give concrete not emotional examples.  You need to cite references that are quotable and can be verified.  For example, check stats on a particular subject in which you have expertise.  Remember that not everything you read on the Net is accurate.  A lot on Wikipedia is hearsay and opinion, not fact. 

The art of the argument means convincing people in a cogent and logical manner that your POV is important or real.  Remember that they want to buy into what you are selling.  You need to convince your listener that the idea is not just yours but that it will benefit them.  Remember, it’s not about you but really about their needs. 

The job seeker who is seeking employment can make the point that their skills are the solution to employer’s problems. The idea is to sell you as the person who minimizes risk, reduces costs and creates profit margins that benefit the company.  This is the way to position your POV to win an argument.

At a networking event, when the conversation goes bad and you feel that you need to interject your POV, why not ask a question instead.  Ask how they think the idea solves a problem or if they can think of a solution for their issue/problem.  Recall a political or religious discussion that you have had that turned into a screaming match.  Was the point to yell louder than the other guy to get your point across or would it have been better to find out what the real issue was at hand?

Sometimes it is necessary to walk away.  How do you do this and save face?  Recall that a networking event is not the place for a full-on argument but the beginning of a relationship that one can nurture and covet.  Make sure that you get the person to agree to continue the lively discussion, that you are enjoying (hint at that), over coffee at another time.  That is one way for them to remember you and to want to push their own agenda.  At the secondary (and sometimes third) meeting, you can try to persuade the person that your point is correct by showing how it will benefit them in the long run.  An argument is not lost just because they do not accept your views.  They want you to understand what they are saying just as you want them to see your POV.  So make sure that you do see their side of the argument.

When you are faced with a situation that is obviously not going in the direction you want, you can solicit some allies to bolster your idea.  Networking events are always filled with someone that you know, from somewhere.  Even one person whom you know can help you prove your view point.  Winning an argument does not mean that you have to cut someone else down.  Build them up by asking the right questions to make them think that they came up with the solution or idea on their own. 

The art of the argument is to sell a concept, idea, solution or benefit that will cause the other person to react in a positive manner.   This way, you become an ally for future reference and a networking colleague whom people will remember.

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