How to use Google to help you in your networking efforts

July 29, 2006

Google can be a great ally in your networking efforts. But few people know all the features this website offers. But let’s first start with the basics.

Have you ever been told “I Googled you yesterday?” As you might guess, this means that he typed your name in Google to see what is written about you on the web. Did you already Google yourself? No? Do it. You might be surprised!

Also “Google” other people. People who are already in your network or people who you have an appointment with for the first time. Google might provide you with excellent background information.

Everybody knows Google from its search engine. But there are more free tools that can help you in your networking efforts: 
Google Toolbar for your web browser. No need to go to the website of Google anymore. Just put in your search in the box in the toolbar.
Google Desktop Search: you can’t find a document or file about one of your networking contacts anymore on your PC? Then this tool can help you out.
Google Print: search the full text of books (http://print.google.com
Google Scholar: search in scholarly papers (http://scholar.google.com)
Search features: several aids to search the web faster and get better and more personalised results (www.google.com/help/features.html)

You can find an overview of these extra tools on: www.google.com/options

There are many other tools like maps, satellite pictures, translation tools, currency converters, calculators, weather forecasts and photograph editors available. And Google keeps inventing and testing them in their lab (http://labs.google.com/) . So visit these pages on a regular basis to find out how your online (networking) ventures can be made easier.

Lots of these options are conveniently gathered on one page by a company called Soople (www.soople.com). You can even create your own personalised version of this “dashboard”!

One of the alternatives for Google as a search engine is Dogpile (www.dogpile.com) This is a meta search engine, meaning that it is not a search engine itself, but that it groups several search engines like Google, MSN, Yahoo and Ask Jeeves.

Use these tools to help you prepare your online networking efforts and your attendance at networking events!

To your success !

Jan


How do you feel when making a request?

July 22, 2006

Many people hesitate to involve their network in a request. What about you? Do you find it difficult to ask a question?

Are you also thinking: “Will they have time for me? Who am I to ask a question? Will they know the answer? Will anybody be able to help me? Will anybody be willing to help me? Will they know anybody who can help me? What will they ask in return?” Or do you think: “I have to be able to do this on my own”, “I don’t need anyone’s help”, “I don’t want to bother people”, “I don’t know them well enough to call them”, “People will think I’m weak/needy/stupid if I approach them about this”, “I have no right to expect others to help me out” or “I don’t want them to realize I need help with this”.

Then your inner thoughts may prevent you from enjoying the powers of networking.

But let me ask you a question. If somebody asks you for advice or to do him a favour and you really can help him out, what kind of feeling do you get? A negative, neutral or positive one? I think we can agree on a positive feeling: warm, happy, satisfied,… We all want to contribute. It is human nature to help each other.

Now, if we reverse this thought, we could say that by NOT making a request to our network, we deprive them of the chance to help us and to get a positive feeling.

So, what are you waiting for: start asking questions and make other people feel good!

To your success !

Jan

PS: this is an abstract from my networking book “Let’s Connect!”


Meeting inspiring people

July 15, 2006

In the post of last week I already gave an example of how networking works in other ways than to sell more.

Let me share with you a personal experience from a month ago.

In the beginning of June I flew to Los Angeles, together with 3 other Belgians, to attend Robert G. Allen’s Enlightened Wealth Retreat.

Because it’s a serious distance we had decided to book some extra days to enjoy the weather and to meet some people from the neighbourhoods of Los Angeles.

And that’s where the power of our networks kicked in. We all brought in our personal contacts and were able to meet some very inspiring people. Because the four of us don’t visit Los Angeles very often (and that’s still an understatement ;-)), each of us could only bring in one or two contacts, but together we managed to compose a nice agenda.

Among others we were honoured to visit:
– Chris and Josephine Gross of the Networking Times
Ivan Misner and his staff at the BNI HQ
Doug Wolfgram and a small group of local members of Ecademy
– A local BNI chapter
– the Agape spiritual community

And another nice networking effect is that we got a discount on our hotel rooms thanks to a contact in Belgium that works for the same hotel chain as the one we stayed with in LA.

When was the last time you joined forces with other people to meet inspiring people and/or the people who can help you to reach your professional or personal goals?

Have a great networking day !

Jan 


Networking to improve the bottom line

July 8, 2006

Many people associate networking with selling. As you have already read in previous posts (like “The difference between selling and networking“) for me a sale can be one of many consequences of networking, not the only one.

A few weeks ago I asked this question to a group I was training in networking: “What is your goal when networking?”

one of the participants answered: “to have a better bottom line with my company”. I asked him how networking would help him with that. His answer: “by finding more people to sell to”.

Now you have to know that this man was not very successful in his networking. Why? Because when he met someone that was not a potential customer, he would end the conversation and look for someone else.

This man was in the catering business. So I asked him: is it really the bottom line you want to improve? And he confirmed this. My next question was: so, if you could buy the supplies for your catering business at a lower price and still have the same quality, this would improve the bottom line as well?

When he confirmed this, he also immediately saw that for his situation networking could work in more ways. As a result he became more interested in other people, even if they were not potential customers (or suppliers). And his bottom line did improve !

How are YOU networking? Only looking for a potential customer? Or are you open for other connections for yourself or your network as well?

Have a great networking day !

Jan


Online or offline networking?

July 1, 2006

A few weeks ago I was at a networking event organised by the online networking website OpenBC in Antwerp, Belgium. It was a good event: nice location, tasty (ànd sufficient) food and lots of interesting people.

At a certain moment I got the question: “Do we need offline networking events when we have online networking websites?” (by the way, I find it funny that since there are websites where you can network, the act of meeting people on events is now often called “offline” networking. Another proof that the use of new technology leads to new vocabulary.)

Here are my tips:

If you are a member of an online networking website I recommend going to this kind of events because they add the personal experience to the messages you exchanges via het internet. It will help you to get to know the other person better as a “whole person”, next to his/her virtual profile.

If you aren’t a member of such a networking website, it might also be a good idea to attend these events. You can start to build a relationship with people on this event. And then continue the relationship via forums or personal messaging on the website.

For me online networking is a very valuable addition to meeting people “in real life”, but not a 100% replacement

Network in the way you feel most comfortable with yourself, but know that online networks provide much value and are here to stay. And also be aware that to really get to know each other, a face-to-face contact can make some things very clear in a very short time !

Have a great networking day !

Jan

PS: you can connect with me on following online networks:
– OpenBC
– Ecademy
– Linkedin

But please don’t use the standard connection mails ! Show me that our connection could be much more than a number on a list.


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