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Networking 202

1) Play Ugly Betty Season 3 Episode 11 networking tips
(Season 3 Episode 11 from minute 13.54-17.00 followed up by 30.22-30.37) Link: watch?v=mzxN2lY5MqE&feature=related

2) Why Network ?

Get industry knowledge and trends, job openings, business opportunities, sales prospect, professional expertise like accounting, law, engineering, etc, fashionable gadgets, or where to eat, mentorship, experience, career advancement. Successful people have the attitude, and system of doing things! Watch and learn, and model after them. Remember, there is their job, then there is their passion. Everyone is an expert in something. My friend Deborah is a foodie, so I call her if I ever need to try a good restaurant or bar, where as my friend Dixon is a Mac lover, so whenever I have issues with my mac laptop, he’s the first person I’d call. People feel proud when they can show you what they know! Just remember to appreciate their contribution and thank them properly with compliments, and small gifts. Keep them in mind if you see something useful to their career or passion.

3) Tools of the trade (Good outfit, personal grooming, business card, professionalism)
Avoid: Dead fish handshake, bad breath, body odour, worn shoes, holy socks, or totally inappropriate attire to the function, ceaseless chatter, cutting people off mid sentence, dramatic body language, Valley Girl talk (like you know, sentences end up going up in tone), dressing too sexy, prospecting, carelessly stuffing other’s business card in your back pocket.
Try: Clearly communicate who you are and what you’re looking for ( be a client, a mentor, a job, or needing info on green technology trends), active listen skills, display genuine interest in the person you’re speaking with, always carry the attitude of “How I may help you”, respect the person who you’re speaking with, don’t crack sarcastic jokes or share too many personal details like your recent break up or divorce as it makes everyone uncomfortable. Share your point of view, but be sensitive to other’s ethnic, religious, sexual orientation. For example, Muslim men will not shake a woman’s hand! And it’s rude to touch a Thai person’s head or kick up and show the sole of your feet in their presence.

4) Follow up
There is no point to go networking if you don’t have time to follow up with people, unless you are attending regular meetings of a certain group/association and sees the same people over and over. The cardinal rule #1 of networking is contact the person within 48 hours of first meeting. This could be an email or phone call, or an invitation to linkedin. If the two of you can benefit from each other, try to set up a coffee meeting as a follow up within the week or the next week. At that meeting, figure out if they’re a giver, a taker or a good networker. A good networker will give and take in equal parts, some people finds great value in giving, but will feel resentful when the favour isn’t returned, as they don’t always communicate what they need or want. A taker is someone who’s a vampire that try to take your time, knowledge, contacts, and get free stuff from you on an ongoing basis! Do not ever refer your network to a business unless you have or know trusted friends who have done business with them. As if the supplier does a bad job, it reflects badly on you and your business acumen! Set boundaries early, such as if your cell phone is on your business card, is it okay for them to call you or text you after work hours. How often they can contact you, and how much time is appropriate to spend on networking with each other so you don’t lag behind your real work. Don’t let others develop dependency on you. Set up a system of staying in touch with people ( could be linkedin, facebook, twitter, email newsletter, regular events at your workplace like a monthly open house, or regular seminars you put on) . If you use email newsletter, DO NOT buy mailing list as it violates the privacy act and your company will get blacklisted and your company website will be taken down. Always get an opt in function when you do use mass email system.

Face time is always more valuable than other form of contact, telephone call is always more personal than an email. If people sense that you don’t care or are unprofessional and flaky, they won’t do business with you. Respect other people’s time and boundaries. Do not expect others will help or support you, so don’t give them attitude. Only be grateful when they do.

5) Difference between Men and Women in communication style

According to Allan and Barbara Pease, authors of “Why Men Life and Women Cry?” from evolutionary perspective, men for eons are hunters/providers so their survival depends on their athleticism, hand eye coordination and ability to focus to kill the animal. Whereas women’s survival is depending on pleasing their man and forming strong social networks to take care of the family. Foraging for food were are done by women in groups, so they have developed very sophisticated communication skills, and are great at multitasking. So men tend to be more results oriented and women more process oriented.

Women can talk about several subjects at the same time, and they use more soft language to hint at their desire, instead of giving clear comments or commands, so it confuses men. Men are constantly asking women to get to the point, whereas a woman will talk for the sake of talking to form / solidify the relationship. In business / networking, or job interview, answer the questions directly, and if timing and your listener’s body language suggest to go on, then you can tell the story to give context of your point. Ladies, try to avoid adding too many details of the story, like color, who was there, how you’re feeling etc. Men, need to give context to their point as usually in seeking a job, it’s HR who will interview you first, so they might not completely understand your field, so use language that she can understand and focus on quantifiable results ( % of sales increase, decrease in staff turnover, number of overtime, publicity, recognition for your project, etc)

Studies show that a man will go for apply for a higher position job if he feels he’s 60% ready, whereas a woman will only go for it if she’s 100% ready. Professionally, a woman is better at getting the job done, but a man typically is better at telling the boss how well he did the job. So ladies, speak up.

6) Office Politics
Politics follow power, so the bigger the organization, the higher you go, the more politics you will encounter. The worst place is big organizations with unions, or large educational institutions, as there are many departments who might not have the same objective. There is professional power, then there is personal power. Professional power can be obtained in several ways, to create resentment in the office quickly, is to be a slacker with work, but kiss ass to your boss. Personal power can exist based on a person’s family connections, looks, etc… For young professionals just starting your career, it is best to dress to blend in, as in get rid of your spiky streaked hair, leave your punk gear at home on casual Fridays, and let your pink lacy bra peaking out of your top for cocktail hour. If you need more clothes for your wardrobe, non profit Dress For Success and Working Gear are great resources, so is value village!

If someone is really picking on you, look out for opportunities for you to make your peace offering, such as a birthday cake on their birthday or a thoughtful card. Know yourself, if you can’t handle the stress, it’s not worth the big paycheque. Find a corporate culture that fits you! The most important thing with any job are the people you work with. They can make a boring job exciting and fun, or make a great job into pure hell.

7) Quality Versus Quantity
The key in the Ugly Betty clip was demonstrating that you CAN obtain contacts quickly, but if everyone you met was 5 minutes with a superficial conversation, you’ll be forgotten very easily. If you spend your time and meet 2-3 good contact in one night, that is much much more valuable . Remember what your task and objective is, if it’s simply to find a job, it often will come from the periphery of your network ( friend of a friend of a friend), so widen your network constantly. If you are looking for business partner, or investment into your company, or to sell a big ticket item/service, you will NEED to invest your time accordingly.

8) Target Audience
Find your herd! The Board of Trade is open for business to everyone, but the chances of you finding business there is unlikely. People do business with people whom is similar to themselves. 85-90% of business owners in the Lower Mainland are small business, and they’re constantly networking. If you ever go, you’ll meet a million personal coaches, mortgage broker, realtor, nutritionist…. Professional associations are a great resource. Have a clear goal, no matter if you like the people there or not, if they cannot help you achieve your networking goals, find another group that will. The best is to find a group of people you find inspiration, fun, and are able to learn from that you can do business or work with.

9) Etiquette
As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in one day. We’re all once scared, munching and hiding along the buffet / food table widly scanning the room hoping someone will talk to us. We’re all afraid and keep thinking over and over “Geez, what clever thing should I say as an opening line to impress someone?”…. “What if I have nothing to contribute to the conversation? Or what if I say something dumb?”. Learn to ask questions and listen intently, and ask more questions based on the information shared. Everyone’s favourite subject is themselves. Remember that confidence, a sense of humour, being a good listener will make you a welcoming guest in any circle. There are too many good looking, well educated selfish bastards / fools who are the sharks among the networking pool. So remember the cardinal rule #2 of networking: create win-win relationships! If you meet a shark, use your exit strategy quickly. Listen to your six sense (if you stomach is feeling queasy, run) as it’s often right.

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