Use a second business card to improve your results at networking events

February 24, 2007

In the post “Second Business Card” I mentioned to use a second business card to share your interests and information about yourself with other people so you can really connect with them.

You can also use a second business card to improve your results at events you attend.

For example:
– When attending a seminar: to share your learning goals with other people and the reason you attend. You will experience that they will want to help you.
– When exhibiting at a fair: to mention other exhibitors that the people you encounter should visit (make this business card together with the other exhibitors mentioned on the card)
– When you are an author: to mention one or more of your books (usually there is no or little room for this on your official business card)
– In general: to list the people you are looking for or want to meet. You never know who you might encounter who knows them personally !
– In general: to share tips about the subject you’re an expert in (tips you have written yourself)
– In general: to share useful resources (websites, magazines, people, training courses,…)
– In general: to mention one or more of your products or services (usually there is no or little room for this on your official business card). You can also adapt this to the type of event you are going to as an exhibitor or a visitor.
– In general: to mention all the (free) articles, documents, advices, e-courses, music or video clips or other useful information people can find at your website

The advantage of using a business card instead of a flyer is that people find this less intrusive, it is cheaper and you still will be remembered better than most of the other people they met.

Have a great networking day !

Jan


Networking and sponsorships

February 17, 2007

Many organisations sponsor sports or cultural events in order to maintain their business relationships.

For example in Belgium many organisations have business seats for soccer games.
The problem is that for many games they have lots of difficulties to get enough people interested to fill all the seats they have.

The reason is that the same people are invited by many organisations for the same soccer game. And by other organisations for other events. Next to that the people who are invited are most of the time very busy people who want to spend some quality time with their family as well.

So why would they accept the invitation of a particular organisation, thus preferring it over the other organisations and their family?

This is a question that many organisations don’t think about.

The solution is rather simple: make sure they encounter at that event people they are interested in.

This can start very easy: as a host you can introduce guests to each other. Connect them with each other. Give them also a topic to talk about. If you see business opportunities for them by working together, mention it. They might not have seen this themselves.

I know this is a very simple solution, but I almost never see it applied in practice. What I DO see is people from the same company (most of the time the hosts) talk to each other. This is a waste of time and money.

Be a good host and introduce and connect people. Do this very consequently the next event and you will immediately experience what a difference it can make.

Have a great networking day !

Jan


The importance of business cards

February 10, 2007

After my post about the second business card a few weeks ago I got some reactions from people saying they work for a large organisation, but don’t have business cards. So I thought it might be good to share a part out of my networking book “Let’s Connect!” (for a free light version of the book, visit www.letsconnect.be)

I still can’t believe that many organisations only have business cards for their “external profiles” like sales people, managing directors, project leaders or marketing managers.

What managers who cut costs by saving on business cards apparently don’t understand is that the power of networking works for every co-worker in their department or organisation. Even more important is the fact that if you don’t have a business card, you have an extra obstacle to overcome.

For many people this does not only entail a practical disadvantage, but also a psychological one. The thought “I’m not important enough to have a business card” can prohibit people from establishing contact with others. Most often the people who don’t get business cards are back-office employees. And they tend to be more introvert than others, which gives them the feeling of having a disadvantage to more extravert people (which is in fact not the case). The result is that when they meet other people in a meeting, on a reception or another networking event, inside or outside the organisation, they don’t even tend to network.

What beautiful opportunities are missed in this way! And besides, how vain or disrespectful to label people as “less important”. You never know who they know! Maybe their neighbour is the customer your sales representatives have been after for months. Or they might have a brother that would be the perfect software programmer for your next big project. Or their son plays in the same soccer team as the president of a potential business partner.

Also within the organisation this could be important: they might be very well connected with people from other departments or local offices. Many Social (or Organisational) Network Analyses have disclosed that the organisational chart is almost NEVER the way people work together, exchange information or influence each other. A very good book in this field is “The hidden power of social organisations” by Rob Cross and Andrew Parker. It is very practical, with many case studies and examples from real business life.

Giving your co-workers business cards encourages them to represent your organisation to the outside world. Once I got the answer: “That’s exactly the reason why we don’t give business cards to our cleaning staff. We don’t want people to identify them with our company. They are not loyal and sometimes speak ill of our organisation.”

When I heard this, I seriously wondered about how important people were in this organisation. Business is still done between people, not between machines. Many large contracts are signed, not because the offer was the best, but because of the human aspect of the relationship between customer and supplier. When I hear someone say they don’t believe in their own people, then I seriously doubt ever becoming a customer of this company. How will they treat me? A good beginning for this man could just be to give business cards to his cleaning staff. They might feel more respected and start behaving differently, more positively.

Have a great networking day !

Jan


Is luck a coincidence or can it be created?

February 3, 2007

When you read management and personal development literature you find with many authors like Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, Dennis Waitley and Jim Rohn a definition of “luck”.

Their definition: luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

They stress the importance of being prepared: define your goals, improve yourself, learn continuously,…
So when you meet the right person or right “deal” you can grab the opportunity.

That’s how they see it. And I agree with them.
But I also want to add something: when you build your network and keep in touch with it, opportunities will arise in an on-going pace.

So you don’t have to wait years for that one opportunity to come by.

When I started networking with a raised awareness and more pro-actively, I encountered so many interesting people with so many interesting projects, organisations and ideas, that I now already know I won’t have enough time to do something with them in this lifetime.

Abundance is everywhere. Many people don’t see this because they are not exposed to other people’s ideas and other people’s ability to bring you in contact with the right people to realise your project.

Opportunities are here. For you, for me, for anyone. Be prepared, know what you want, share your goals with your network, ask for the help you need and build relationships with a give and receive attitude (link naar post) and as a result you will see opportunities everywhere.

So you really can create your own luck !

To your networking success !

Jan


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