Tuesday, February 24, 2015
There are networking opportunities everywhere, whether you’re at a trade show, conference, meetup, or even chatting with someone on your commute. You need to make the most of every opportunity because you never know who you might meet! Here are eight actionable dos and don’ts for following up with someone in a professional way after you've connected:
DO: Send an invitation to connect on LinkedIn in a timely manor by including a personal note on where you met him or her and something you may have discussed. For example, “It was great meeting you at the ABC Event. I’d like to keep in touch about the possible partnership we were chatting about.”
DON’T: Send a LinkedIn invite to every business card you collect. You should have a one-on-one meaningful conversation with someone before sending them an invitation to connect.
DO: Follow up via email to business cards you collected and personalize the messages. Ensure you let people know ahead of time you’ll be sending an email and have their permission, otherwise your email may be viewed in a negative light.
DON’T: Buy a list of event attendees and email them all. This would be a violation of the CAN-SPAM act. Also, it’s not the best way to start a professional relationship.
DO: Try to follow up in a timely fashion, usually within a few days to a week of the event. It will help keep you top of mind of your potential clients or business partners.
DON’T: Wait too long to follow up with a contact. Time flies after events and it’s easy to forget all of the people that you might have met.
DO: Go the extra mile about how your businesses or connection can be mutually beneficial when you do reach out to someone. Take the time to research and understand what his or her company does, if you don’t know already.
DON’T: Go on about your company without understanding whether it’s actually a good fit for the company or contact you’re reaching out to.
DO: Set a limit to the amount of communication. Do some testing to see the optimal amount of touches that it takes to connect with someone. Refine your cadence and amount of outreach accordingly.
DON’T: Call or email multiple times if you don’t get a response. No one likes to be harassed or stalked.
DO: Extend an offer for a free demo or an info session to learn more about your product or service.
DON’T: Forget to include a link to your website in your email.
DO: Include your LinkedIn profile link (personal or business) within your email signature to make it easy for people to connect with you.
DON’T: Have an unprofessional picture in your email signature, or as your LinkedIn profile picture.
DO: “Like” a business you’re interested in on Facebook, and follow that business on LinkedIn and Twitter. When you do, the business or owner may follow you back.
DON’T: Try to friend someone’s personal page on Facebook, or connect in other more personal ways. Sometimes it can be perceived as creepy.
These eight networking follow up dos and don’ts should keep you on the right path to growing your network and making successful new connections like a pro.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Vivian Ciampi offers these 4 tactical tips to help professionals at every level become a more effective communicator and, in doing so, gain better control of their career trajectory:
- Become the
Translator.” The most valued and successful person in
any business is the one that can translate facts, figures, and concepts into
actionable ideas that will not only make sense and resonate with their direct
network, but also with any and all constituents those ideas will be presented
to. This includes superiors, subordinates, peers, customers, prospects, business
partners and vendors. The Universal Translator does the following: steps out of
their comfort zone or discipline; let’s go of any insider department lingo or
technical terms and focuses on the audience at hand; suggests specific ways
others can move forward with the information relative to what is important to
them; and presents the vision, plan or theory in a way that is clear, crisp,
confident and above all, ACTIONABLE. This person is so successful
because of their ability to translate complex or technical concepts into
strategic steps that will impact the bottom line. If others can
understand, relate to and rally around what you are presenting, it is sure to
yield winning results.
- Meet before you
meet. There’s few things more painful and embarrassing than getting
completely derailed in a meeting. Many have seen it—someone showing up with
well-prepared and rehearsed slides only to get completely pummeled with
questions from every discipline in the room before they even get beyond the
intro page. Instead of moving forward with their agenda, they are sent ten paces
back and five paces to the side, only to leave the meeting with more work, lost
credibility, a confused and frustrated audience and, above all, no progress on
the agenda at hand. If you've ever experienced this personally or seen it happen
to another, you know it is hard to recover. The best way to counter this is the
following: determine who your key constituents are relative to your topic ahead
of time; set up one-on-one meetings with all of them at least a few days in
advance of the big meeting; socialize the topic with each of the constituents
individually; and make sure you understand their perspective and answer any
questions or concerns that they have ahead of time. By taking these steps, you
will undoubtedly gain valuable information that will not only help you refine
your presentation, but also be poised and prepared to actually present in the
real meeting. Socializing the idea ahead of time may feel like extra work, but
the benefits far outweigh the additional time—and the very real risks of not
doing so. This strategy will facilitate your ability to effectively cover a lot
of ground and actually garner decisions in the meeting without playing catch-up
or spending valuable time trying to get everyone on the same page. Effective
communication, speed and alignment are a few of the key advantages here.
- Stop, ask and
listen! Today’s fast-paced workplace has most of us running at record
speed, often in circles like we’re on a hamster wheel. We are putting out fires
and have more in our email inbox than our outbox each and every day. The
resulting pressure of this overload causes us to rush through conversations so
we can cross it off our proverbial “to do list” and move on to the next triage task. Unfortunately, plowing through important conversations will never yield a
productive outcome, but often produces more work and headaches. The best way to
approach key conversations that need a little extra finesse or persuasion,
particularly in the midst of a time-pressed schedule, are the following: stop
and take a breath so you don’t rush into your agenda in the first five minutes
of the conversation; ask open ended questions, such as “What’s going on in your
department?” or “How has this system helped you?” Once the person you’re engaged
with has the opportunity to respond, make 200% sure you are actively
listening—not just hearing them—and that you give them ample time to convey
their thoughts without your interjection, direction or interruption. The
majority of the time, you will gain key insights from these conversations and
will be able to craft a more informed response—one that better resonates with
the person(s) you’re speaking with. Even if you already know the answer or have
a brilliant retort, slowing down and letting others speak first, in full, allows
them to “empty their cup” which puts them in a better position to have it filled
back up with what you have to say in response. When you do finally have the
chance to speak, keep in mind people only have the capacity to absorb so much.
If we provide an overload of verbose detail, you risk overflowing the listener’s
“cup” and may ultimately lose the real essence of what you are trying to convey.
Stay focused on who your audience is and what they care about to ensure that
your dialogue and key points are streamlined and succinct. This tactic also
helps build more productive, trusting professional relationships. The most
successful people in any company aren't necessarily the smartest, but rather
those who take the time to listen and learn from others because they truly value
what they have to say. Adhering to this strategy will not only make you a much
more effective communicator, but it will also garner tremendous goodwill
throughout the organization as you start to hone a discipline of talking less
and listening more.
- Converse with clarity. People today are inundated with data, work under tight time-frames, and talk in acronyms. Some technical people and other professionals tend to use a lot of insider jargon and industry terminology when they communicate, making it difficult for anyone outside their immediate network to understand. Also, incompetent people tend to rush through important details hoping no one else will ask questions or notice their in-aptitude, and you certainly don’t want to be perceived in this light. Such conversation crushers can leave others feeling intimidated, out of the loop and unable to effectively contribute. Rather than contributing poorly to the conversation or sitting on the sidelines as the dialogue ensues, a better approach is to pick the right setting and ask clarifying questions to ensure messaging remains on point and resultant activities on track. If you’re not sure where to start, the basic who, what, where, when, why and how is a sensible approach. For example, “Why are we doing this?”; “How will that work?” or “Where will this help the organization?” are some examples. The win-win with this strategy is that it fosters clear dialogue, makes people accountable to answer direct questions and often uncovers problems that need to be addressed but would have been overlooked had this approach not been utilized.
About the Expert
Vivian M. Ciampi is a Principal at Professional Coaching, LLC, a business navigational coaching firm that helps universities, small to mid-size businesses and large organizations accelerate the growth and success of their top talent. She specializes in helping professionals become better communicators in order to achieve greater success in their careers and balance in their lives. She is also a coach and facilitator in the Executive Education department at the Harvard Business School. Ciampi has been providing leadership/strategic coaching and workshops to professionals for over ten years. Prior to starting her own business, she spent over two decades leading teams and managing businesses at JP Morgan Chase, formerly Chase Manhattan Bank and Travelers Property Casualty. Ciampi is a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation; holds a Master of Business Administration degree in Finance and Marketing from the University of Connecticut, and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Fairfield University. Learn more online at .