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It is that time of year again when, depending on your industry, business either speeds up or slows down and many business owners prepare to spend special time with family and friends.

For those of you who are experiencing a slowdown –  you may be forgiven for wanting to go into hiding.

Indeed, a client asked me the other day whether it’s worth going to networking events in the festive season especially as nobody makes decisions at this time of year.

For me – whether it’s quiet or busy- this is the season to have some fun and meet people!  My diary has filled nicely with leisurely one-to-ones and seasonal events that replace the formal networking events.

Christmas Lunch

I tend to spend more time and money on networking at this time of year than at any other – why, you may ask?

I find that this is the one month where people seem more relaxed and happy to get to know each other in a less work-oriented atmosphere.  This represents a great opportunity to join in, particularly for those who don’t usually enjoy networking.

I have learnt over the years that networking in a social way at this festive time will pay real dividends in a few months (maybe even as soon as January!)

So if you’re considering slowing down your networking this month – especially if your diary is also crammed full of family commitments – please think again.

Don’t write this time off just because you are too busy – try to think of new and imaginative ways to put yourself out there.

And another myth I’d like to dispel for those of you who are wondering, please don’t write off this month for social networking either.

Not everything stops and not every decision maker takes a digital break over Christmas, even if it may seem that way to you.

If you want to connect or stay in touch, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and all the other platforms will be there to serve you, as usual.

Some of my best leads and referrals often come from being visible and eager to connect with people during traditional, and supposedly quiet, holiday periods.

If you would like to keep a step ahead of your competitors, always try to be flexible, and open to new ideas and new ways of doing business. You never know, this could be your mantra not just for the festive season, but for the whole of next year!

Ute Wieczorek-King | Success Coach, Trainer, Mentor, Blogger & Owner of Success Network. Ute helps busy women to be visible, focused and profitable in business. Connect with Ute via Twitter, or Success Network Recipes on Facebook. Or sign up to her monthly newsletter on the Success Network website.

Copyright 2011-16, Ute Wieczorek-King

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This morning, I approached the main road near my house during the busy rush hour. I was in a hurry, and wanting to do my usual right-hand turn, my heart sank as I got closer. The traffic in both directions was almost at a standstill. With everyone in a rush, I knew that waiting for two nice drivers to create a gap in the traffic might be a waste of time.

Then, just before feeling disheartened, I decided to approach the junction with the thought that someone would make a space for me. And this is exactly what happened, the instant my car stopped at the crossing.

Image Quote Positive

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right. (Henry Ford)

It is so easy to forget that you actually have a choice about what you think in any given situation!

But being positive isn’t always easy!

To be fair, even I sometimes find it challenging to stay positive during particularly stressful periods or when suffering from the hormonal ups and downs midlife women can be prone to. And often, before you know it, your negative thoughts have become regular visitors.

In my experience, it requires quite a bit of effort to stay positive when you’re under pressure, but persistence and regular practice do pay off in the long run.

So what can you do?

The first step is in realising and monitoring your natural thought processes. Sometimes our thoughts appear in what we say in passing to a colleague. For example, have you ever caught yourself thinking or saying things like:

“They will be too busy and won’t want me to call today”
“They won’t pay me”
“I’ll mess up this presentation”
“I won’t get any business from this meeting anyway”?

Thinking in this way will inevitably affect your confidence and can prevent you from taking the positive action your business needs right now.

So before attending an event or starting a challenging task today, don’t just jump in. Instead, take yourself through a little prep task first.

If going to a networking meeting or event, either stay in the car or find a quiet space for a couple of minutes so you can become aware of your thoughts. For example, if you notice that you’re thinking that nobody ever wants to talk to you, or is interested in your business, decide which thought or approach would suit you better:

“I will ask the organiser to introduce me”
“I will approach just one person”
“I’ll ask them questions and show that I’m interested in them”

Making a choice can be quite difficult at first, as your negative thoughts will keep bobbing to the surface like apples that have fallen into a bucket of water.

So at first you might find it helpful to say your new thought out loud. But if you’re with people and speaking to yourself feels odd, take your phone and type the new thought as if you were sending someone a text message. Or you can write it in a small notebook. This way, no one will know!

The simple act of hearing your own voice or seeing your thought written down may help to plant the idea and get you used to thinking differently.

As the author Jodi Picoult said in her book My Sister’s Keeper, “If you tell yourself you feel fine, you will.”

PS. Why not share a tip below that works for you?

About the author: Ute Wieczorek-King provides business & blogging support for passionate midlife women who want to be more visible, focused and profitable. Get Ute’s business tips on Facebook or visit the Success Network website to receive Ute’s free “Passion to Profit ebook. You too can take your micro-business from good to great!

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In recent years we have seen an explosive rise in social media use by freelancers and micro-businesses in the service industry. It seems that many small business owners are now casting their net wider and further afield in an attempt to make new connections and, thus, attract new business opportunities.

It probably goes without saying that to win new business you need to be known and trusted, and be ‘seen’ regularly in different places.

However with the lure of so many online opportunities, I think many people don’t realise that looking closer to home can actually be much easier, quicker and potentially more rewarding too!

People often forget about their existing network, both virtual and real, especially when it hasn’t yet delivered new business.

The thing is, the people you know may already trust you — a real bonus when you would dearly love to receive more leads, referrals and new business. But sometimes we expect contacts to provide us with leads, when they are not quite ready to do so.

Perhaps our relationships aren’t quite as strong as we think they are. Or they are too busy and you are not the first person they think of when a business opportunity presents itself.

Here is what you can do. Start by asking yourself some important questions:

  • How can I help my existing contacts to get to know me better as a person as well as the ‘expert’ in my field?
  • Do I share my knowledge and expertise fairly regularly and am I generous enough?
  • Do I really understand their needs and desires so I can help them accordingly? How can I get to know them better?

Enhancing existing relationships can be quite simple:

  • IMG_0971Arrange regular informal 1-to-1 meetings over a coffee or lunch.  You’ll find out about your contacts’ latest developments and how you can add value to their business
  • Always follow up after each meeting — it will help them to remember you!
  • Stay in touch by forwarding articles or blog posts (not just your own!) that they will find useful
  • Invite them to events that you think they’ll be interested in
  • Refer them when you know that they would benefit from meeting one of your other contacts

Keeping in touch with people you already know on a regular basis (without selling to them) really does pay off!

If, reading this, you think that all this may be too time-consuming for you, then my guess is you haven’t yet enlisted the help of online social networks for networking purposes.

If you treat social networking as your personal assistant and use it to stay in touch with your existing network, you simply can’t go wrong!

  • Status updates help you to give people bite-sized updates on what you’re up to
  • Wall posts or brief private messages on sites such as Facebook Messenger, Twitter or Linked-In allow you to communicate much quicker and more efficiently than via email (and there is no danger of your message disappearing in someone’s junk mail folder either!)
  • A blog or newsletter may be less personal but they will remind your contacts of your expertise and your ability to help them

Building strong relationships, both offline and online, always takes time but ultimately, it is generally much harder and more time-consuming to start relationships from scratch than to re-connect with people who already know you.

P.S. Why not add to the above tips or share your own experiences by commenting below?

Ute2013-150x150

About the author: Ute Wieczorek-King is an experienced business coach, mentor and blogger who helps passionate midlife women to stay focused, work smarter and stand out from the crowd.

If you’d like to take your small venture from good to great, why not download Ute’s free “Passion to Profit” ebook.

Please note, the above article is based on an older version first published here in October 2010. 

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I once read a networking tip on the Harvard Business Review site which literally stopped me in my tracks:

Build outward, not inward. Don’t waste time deepening connections with people you already know*

As someone who has built a strong offline and online network for years, I question that statement on two accounts.

  • Firstly, how do you gauge that you know people enough to not have to deepen the connection?
  • And why would you ever not want to deepen that connection?

If you build your network outwards, you’re not unlike a spider that keeps growing a web in the hope of increasing its chances to catch prey.

Photo by Sophia King

Photo by Sophia King

But just like a spider web, a network grown outwards can also be quite fragile.

In fragile relationships you may not know enough about how you can help your contact, whether they would help you if you asked or who their connections are – and, importantly, whether they’d allow you to access those connections.

By diluting your efforts you may miss something crucial: the glue that holds relationships together and that creates the “know, like and trust” effect that leads to referrals and people helping each other generously and willingly.

So, the best way to win new clients is to build inward, not outward!

Don’t keep making the mistake I see so many (not just new) business people make: spreading themselves thin, like a butterfly moving from one networking opportunity (or social media platform) to another.

Let me share a secret with you!

Even when winning new business from new contacts seems easy, it is never as personally or financially rewarding as business that comes from strong, long-term relationships. These are far more likely to lead to referrals and repeat business which makes building your business much easier in the long-run!

One of the key themes from the ebook From Contact to Advocate™ I co-authored a few years ago, is how to build authentic relationships, online and offline, with the people who matter.  

I know from personal experience and the recommendations and repeat business I get, that the principle works!

Ute2013-150x150About the author: Ute Wieczorek-King is a UK-based German mentor and blogger who inspires passionate midlife women to achieve business success by simplifying and staying focused on what really matters.

If you’d like to take your small venture from good to great, why not download Ute’s free “Passion to Profit” ebook.

New this year: Online blog coaching programme ‘Attract Readers; Gain Impact’ with The Fairy Blog Mother Alice Elliott, Marketer Jean Wolfe and Ute Wieczorek-King.

PS The above post is an updated version of a post first published here in 2011.

Copyright 2011-15, Ute Wieczorek-King

*http://web.hbr.org/email/archive/managementtip.php?date=091611


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IMG_0375I didn’t always enjoy attending networking meetings, especially when I started my coaching & mentoring business. I knew I needed to get out there and meet people but having to walk into a room full of people you don’t know is never easy.

One of the aspects of networking I didn’t enjoy then and still don’t enjoy now,  is talking to busy people who try to be super efficient with their networking time. They rush from group to group and from conversation to conversation, delivering their elevator speech as many times as they can, in the shortest possible time.

When you need to find new business, stepping up your networking activities can make a lot of sense — as long as you go about it in the right way. The last thing you want is to give the impression that you’re desperate to find new customers!

Why focus matters in networking

Woody Allen once said: “70% of networking is being there.” For me ‘being there’ doesn’t just mean getting to a meeting, but being fully ‘present and attentive’ whilst at the meeting.

Sometimes it can be easy to spot when someone is ‘absent’.  They always seem to be in a hurry, don’t ask questions or just want to exchange business cards. They might even cast their eye around the room looking for the next person to speak to.

You may not be aware of it yourself, but not being present and attentive can make others feel as though you are only interested in yourself and your own business.

This is a real no-no in networking!

‘Being there’ means being mindful and ‘in the moment’ which actually helps you to become more aware of the needs of others.

So how can you be mindful at meetings?

I find it helps not to rush to a meeting. I usually try to get there early so I can have a few minutes by myself, sitting quietly in the car. This helps me to relax, collect my thoughts and put everything else to the back of my mind.

Giving your full attention to every person you speak to at the meeting, means you’ll listen more carefully. You will not only stay engaged in the conversation but discover what you can do for them.

And when you focus on helping people first instead of ‘selling yourself’ (and your business), any networking pressure usually disappears — now you are truly ‘connecting’!

So next time you speak to someone and catch yourself focusing on your own needs, or you feel tempted to skip ahead in the conversation, try to focus your full attention on the other person and block out any distractions around you.

Be prepared to be amazed how ‘being there’ will help you to deepen your business relationships and ultimately transform your networking results!

Ute2013-150x150

About the author: Ute Wieczorek-King is a UK-based German mentor and blogger who inspires passionate midlife women to achieve business success by simplifying and staying focused on what really matters. If you’d like to take your small venture from good to great, why not download Ute’s free “Passion to Profit ebook.

New this year: Online blog coaching programme ‘Attract Readers; Gain Impact’ with The Fairy Blog Mother Alice Elliott, Marketer Jean Wolfe and Ute Wieczorek-King.

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PS The above post is an updated version of a post that was first published here in June 2010. 

 

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Listen to the authors of  “Business Networking and Sex (not what you think)” share their tips to help men and women network better with each other.

Do you agree that men and women network differently? Why not share your views below.

Alternatively, please feel free to check out my blog “Do women network differently to men?” and comment there!

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A guest post from Mary Fraser:

I used to be part of Success Network’s Inner Circle business group and recall discussing the hot topic of social media in one of the meetings. A healthy debate took place about the impact of social media for our respective businesses.

In our particular Circle there were those of us who ‘do social media’ and those of us who don’t. In fact, there are those of us who would do if we could do, but seem to experience a resistance to the whole social media business.

The barriers (that is, those voiced at the meeting) of time, effort and lack of knowledge I am sure can be overcome with a little help and guidance. However, I can’t help feeling that there is ‘something else’ which stops us in our flow. What is that for you?

I read a blog once which told a great story about the power of collaboration when engaging online. The prospect of collaboration puts a different spin on the business of social media for me. Now I’m trying to engage more with other bloggers and take inspiration from other writers which also helps with developing my own skill set.

So my questions are:

What are you doing to engage in the social media process?
What does ‘collaborating’ and engaging mean for your business?
What would happen as a result to you/your business if you participated more online?

Let me know how it goes. You may wish to leave a comment on this blog. Go on engage with me today, this could be your first small step.

Mary Fraser has a passion for learning and development. She is an experienced Freelance HR Consultant at Fraser HR and a Children’s Coach at Poppyfields.

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