Hard is soft and soft is hard

November 24, 2007

My last post was about Tom Peters’ speech in Antwerp two weeks ago.

Also this one is inspired by something he said: “hard is soft and soft is hard”.

He meant that the so-called “hard stuff” in organisations like plans and numbers is in fact soft. And that the so-called “soft stuff” like people, customers, values and relationships is the real “hard stuff”.

I agree with him. Business is done between people, not between numbers. The real capital in an organisation are the people who work within an organisation. The better they are in their respective fields, the better the other assets will be leveraged to make fantastic, inspired and profitable products and services.

And this will be even more true if the right people interact with the right people. And that’s where our network comes in. Your network can and will help you to connect with the people who are right for you on the right moment if you are willing to do the same for them.

So think about these questions for a minute:
– what do you want to achieve (or which goals you have to reach according to your boss)?
– who are the right people?
– who can help you reach those people?
– are you willing to also help the people you are going to ask to help you?

Have a great networking day !

Jan


Tom Peters about big and small companies

November 21, 2007

On Monday November 12, 2007 Tom Peters visited Antwerp in Belgium to give a two-hour speech.

I got some nice ideas out of his presentation, linked to networking. I will share these ideas with you the following weeks.

If you have never heard of Tom Peters: he is the co-author of ” In Search for Excellence” and a well-known business speaker.

More over Tom Peters on www.tompeters.com.

Tom talked about several business myths. One of them is the myth of the big company. Meaning that to be successful in business you have to have a big company. He surprised most of the audience when he showed the largest exporting country in the world. And it is not the USA, China, Japan or India, but Germany.

The reason? Small companies or “Middelstand”. He then gave some examples of world market leaders that were small German companies. They own a niche.

When networking it is also important to focus on a niche, even if you work for a large company with many business units and several activities. The pitfall is that when you have to present yourself, you will use words that are too vague or too general. They don’t stick and people won’t remember you or your company.

Instead focus on what you do within the company, what business unit you belong to and how it differs from other companies. In this way people will remember you better.

The hardest thing is to make choices about what to tell and especially what NOT to tell.

The best way to make this decision is to listen to the other person first. In this way you will know more about the sector and function. So you can focus on something this person relates to.

By the way, listening to the other person first is not only good so you know what to focus on yourself, but at the same time one of the best relationship building techniques there are.

Have a great networking day !

Jan


Share your goals

November 10, 2007

Last Wednesday I gave an introduction session networking in Ghent, Belgium.

During such a session I always do a small exercise about writing down a goal and then look for the people in the best position to help you reach that goal.

It is such an easy exercise, but every time I see people be delighted about new opportunities or new ways to reach their goals.

This effect most of the time even increases when I ask them to share their goal and the people they are thinking of with one or more participants. It is always amazing what new ideas and even specific names they get from each other !

The good news is that you don’t have to follow a workshop or training course with us. You can do it yourself.

Just ask yourself these two questions:
– What is a goal that I want to achieve (make it specific enough !!!)
– Who are the people in the best position to help me reach that goal

I strongly recommend sharing the answers to both questions with other people (for example: your own Master Mind group). This will give you more ideas yourself and you will also get ideas and help from them.

When doing this exercise, remember that you never know who they know, so abandon the thought “they will never able to help me”. You will be surprised !

Have a great networking day !

Jan


Don’t use the default messages from LinkedIn, Ecademy, Xing, Ryze and other online business networks

November 4, 2007

Do you also get so many unpersonalised requests to connect with someone on LinkedIn, Ecademy, Xing, Ryze or another online business network?

With “unpersonalised” I mean a message like the default message from LinkedIn: “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

This might work with the people you already know pretty well and who also use LinkedIn, but what with all the others?

Although more and more people have already heard of online business networks, there are still lots of people who haven’t.

When you send a message like the one above via the website itself to someone who has never heard of it, what you think will happen?

They will delete it, because they think it is SPAM !

Why?
– It is a message from an unpersonalised and to them unknown e-mail address (for example: invitations@linkedin.com)
– It is an e-mail with the header and the looks of a company they never heard of
– It is an unpersonalised message that anyone could have sent

So please write a short note with a personal message (and maybe also the reason why you are a member of that network). Don’t use the default messages !

By the way, also send a personalised invitation message to the people you already know. This is a moment to reinforce your relationship with them. Take this opportunity to really reconnect and write a personal message (for example: refer to a common hobby or the event you have met them).

Please remember: the purpose of online business networks and tools like Plaxo is to help you build and maintain relationships, not to have a trophee collection !

Have a great networking day !

Jan


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