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Grow your Influence by Repaying Your Connections

iStock_000032189170_Small-760x450A Connected Networker know that even when you are on the receiving end of a favor, you have the opportunity to grow your influence. That’s because in the world of networking, repayment is the same currency as pre-payment.

My latest post on Simply Hired’s blog explains the steps to take after a job search that will immediately set you up for whatever favor you might need next. Being liberal with your appreciation and maybe even sending a balloon bouquet are only a start.

Repaying your network is a never-ending cycle.

Connected Networking Works

This morning, while searching my email archives for an address, I came across a message from 2011 that illustrates just one of my many personal successes with business networking:

Dear friends.

In many ways, a modern professional is only as good as her network.

During my recent international job hunt, my network surprised and
delighted me with its strength and reach. The kindness you offered —
perhaps solely on the recommendation of a connection two, three or
more times removed — will be repaid many times over.  My
long-standing commitment to assist others with  job search advice,
resume forwards, tips about unpublished openings, etc. was reconfirmed
as a result of your benevolence.

I’ve safely landed in the UK and accomplished my goal of securing a
corporate communications position with a large global company prior to
my arrival .  This week I started at SAP, where I am
[guiding employee and executive]communications
for the EMEA region.

Thank you again for your assistance.  And rest assured that with me in
your network, you will always have somewhere to turn for support!

Best,
Amanda

This note is proof that I believe in the power of business networking. In fact, I landed every job on my career path, and every consulting client as well, by business networking in a way that I call Connected Networking.

Simplyhired-logo

You can, too. An article just posted on SimplyHired features an interview about using Connected Networking to aid your career. In it, I share non-obnoxious ways to keep your job search on your network’s radar.

SimplyHired recently made me an expert contributor to their blog on corporate culture, change management, employee engagement, and business networking topics, so expect to see more from me. If you can’t wait for the next post, then download a free copy of  my Fool-Proof Guide to Jumpstarting Your Transformation into a Person of Influence.

You Already Know Enough People

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If you have at least 300 people in your network, you’ve hit the brick wall of network building and it’s time to stop all networking activities as you know them.

Stop going to receptions, conferences, and industry events.

Don’t hand out another business card. Don’t wear another name tag.

You already know enough people, or have one (maybe two) degrees of separation from everyone you need to know. You probably don’t believe me. Your only proof is to point to your LinkedIn connections and Facebook friends and show me that the chairman of Disney or the CEO of Samsung aren’t among your contacts, and so you don’t know everyone yet.

Do you really need to know those people? And if the answer is “yes,” then a warm introduction from a mutual contact is the best in you can get, so re-evaluate your strategy.

At a certain point, the size of your network isn’t as important as the depth of your relationships.

Meeting new people makes us feel like we’ve accomplished something. Adding business cards to the pile in your bottom desk drawer or attaining the coveted 500+ status on LinkedIn might feel good, but you’re not going to have anything to show for this busy work.

The sad reality is that most people are too distracted by sending LinkedIn requests to people they barely know, that they fail to remind people they’ve known for years that they still exist.

Everyone is busy. People forget. Consider it a service to them that you regularly make your presence known.

It’s time to make the rounds. Check in with former co-workers who have moved on. Drop a line to a colleague who just got a promotion. Grab coffee with your first boss. You’ll gain more from those encounters than from attending another awkward happy hour full of strangers.

 

 

The Secret to Avoiding Foot-in-Mouth Syndrome

My former glamorous life in Washington, D.C., exposed me to fancy lots people and places.

At one such event – a massive, record-setting political fundraiser for which I had neither contributed a dime, nor paid for my own ticket – I was seated at a table that included a Congressman and his wife. The lesson I learned, and the one I share today, is that there is a fool-proof way to keep your foot out of your mouth in social situations.

Imagine being someone who is known by hundreds of thousands – even millions – of people. Most of them remember the last time you’ve seen each other and what was discussed. You, on the other hand, must quickly flip through your memory bank to remember each person who recognizes you. This scenario is ripe for embarrassment, even if you’re not someone famous or important. Worse, handled incorrectly, you could compromise a connection.

Beaming from across the room and making a beeline in your direction is someone who clearly knows you, but whose face you have momentarily forgotten. The worst way to start the conversation is to acknowledge you don’t recall the other person. Frequently, this faux pas comes in the form of the greeting “it’s so nice to meet you”.

Insert record scratch and moments of awkwardness as the person corrects you and reminds you in front of everyone that you have indeed previously met. The person at the receiving end of this slight will probably be hurt and might even hold a grudge.

So what do you do instead?

Try using the trick the Congressman’s wife taught me. First, always be kind, genuine, and polite to everyone you meet. Warmly shake their hand, look them in the eye, and say, “it’s so nice to see you!” Not only are you being honest, you’re also avoiding hurt feelings and bruised egos. Best of all, you are covered whether this is someone you’ve met before or someone you’ve never seen in your life. Either way, you are happy to see them.

 

The Secret to Experiencing a Pleasant Reception

When I lived in Washington, D.C. – a city built on knowing the right people at the right time – I frequently made the rounds on the reception circuit. The parties – a mix of young Hill staffers looking to supplement their measly food budgets with free canapes, seasoned lobbyists who knew everyone (except for the young Hill staffers), and a bunch of “don’t you know who I am”s.*

Another young Hill staffer – let’s call her Kate – who previously worked with one of my friends was often on the same invitation lists as us. Every time our mutual friend paused to chat with Kate, she gave me the “I’ve-never-seen-you-before-in-my-life look.” Anyone who has experienced this look knows it instantly feels different than the “I-know-you-from-somewhere look”, the “don’t-you-dare-bring-up-what-happened-last-weekend look” and the “ugh-you-again look”.

Our mutual friend – a polite Southern girl – always made the introductions. Each time, Kate would shake my hand and say “it’s nice to meet you”, usually while looking over my shoulder to make sure there wasn’t someone more important she should be talking to.

Seriously?

I got tired of reminding her that we’d met before and that in fact, we’d spoken just last week at the Australian Embassy party or the horse races or a Georgetown bar.

Was I so forgettable – not funny, well-dressed, engaging or clever enough – that my face elicited a blank stare on a regular basis? After all, I was no Egg from Arrested Development.

The repetition of the experience forced me to dissect the true nature of the problem. What I realized, whether it was running into Kate or looking around a cocktail party full of backslapping and laughing people, was that you never truly know anyone until you’ve worked together, shared an experience, or discovered a common interest. Baring those connections, all of us are just someone who has earned nothing more than a cold reception.

The sooner you get to making those types of connections, the sooner you’ve earned the “so-wonderful-to-see-you look”.

 

*DYKWIAs are people important mostly in their own minds. They’re the kind of people who act indigent whenever a security guard dares to hinder their entrance or their dinner table is not immediately ready for them 5 minutes before the start of the reservation. The funny thing is, in Washington, DYKWIAs include assistant undersecretaries and top aids to government officials that even the most informed voter wouldn’t be able to pick out of a line-up.

Speaking Event on March 19, 2014 in Bloomsburg, PA

Calling all introverts, anyone afraid of networking, and everyone who enjoys socializing

The March women’s networking breakfast hosted by Art of Floating is just for you. Amanda Marko, president of Connected Strategy Group, thinks business networking gets a bad name.

Connected Networking will change the way you view networking. Get a fresh perspective on your career development and professional life, and discover the top three mistakes woman make when networking (and how to avoid them).

You’ll also receive an overview of the Connected Networking for Women program, which teaches proven strategies for strengthening your professional relationships, expanding your influence, and positioning yourself as a leader.

Join us for this unique networking opportunity, where you will learn new networking skills and put them into practice right away. Attending this event will help you make sense of your network and what it can do for you. Don’t miss it!

Where: Art of Floating, 1924 Old Berwick Road, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania
When: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 7:30 a.m.
Cost: Free

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