#FocusFriday – Focus on Networking

IMG_1698Many people spend an enormous amount of energy on business networking and the fact is that many are just not great or even good at it. Why? The lack of focus, planning and practice, of course. For those who want to make the most out of business networking time, efforts and energy, here are some of my recommendations. These steps will allow you to focus on what really matters when it comes to networking for business growth, personal branding and relationship building:

  1. Take time to actually focus on planning out what you are going to do at a networking event or as part of a networking group. Set your goals for what you want to achieve by attending the event and spending your valuable time.  Planning must be done in advance to optimize the time where you are physically at the meeting or event in order for it to be productive for you. Investing the time upfront will aid in overall success. Spend at least a half hour planning before each event and more if it is a target rich environment or a critical event for your business success like a trade show.
  2. Research – Part of preparation is studying the group. This is important even if you are already a member. Identify who you want to speak with, follow up with or even avoid. Get to know who the leaders and influencers are and speak with them ahead of time. They will play a critical role in meeting people, facilitating introductions and understanding the group’s dynamics. Get to know the leaders first; this will pay off in the long run.
  3. Focus on the people you need to meet. Create an ideal client profile and ideal referral source profile. Take this even a step further. Identify the “perfect” client and define them. Practice explaining to those in your networking groups who this ideal client is and what you can do for them. The second part of this process is educating those who are in your networking groups about how to accurately explain who you are and what you do. This will require personal meetings and constant reinforcement of your value message. Don’t assume anyone knows all that you do and all the value that you provide. Ask them to tell you what you do and see what happens. This may be awkward and eye opening but it must be done.
  4. Focus on the person you are with. Give the people you meet and speak with at networking events all of your attention. Listen, ask questions (these are questions that you know and have practiced) and get all the information that you can. Look people in the eyes, face them directly, use their names and use open body language.
  5. Focus on the little things. Make sure you know exactly where you are physically going for the meeting and double check. Nothing is worse than getting lost, showing up late or going to the wrong location. This is all a waste of valuable time that you will never get back. Plan to arrive early and make the personal commitment to never arrive late. Make sure you are dressed appropriately. Stop in the bathroom to check your hair and attire before entering the networking environment. A few seconds of preparation can make a vital difference when making a first impression.
  6. Make sure you practice and perfect your elevator speech. Much has been written about elevator speeches. The fact is that most people are not sure what to say. Keep it brief and let people know what you do and how you can be a valuable ally. Think about relationships and not selling. Elevator speeches are more than just explanations they are your way of demonstrating your personality, your ability to communicate and what you care about. Consider your tone, how you project, how you use your hands, think about the specific words you use and don’t forget the body language. Even seated, you must project confidence and command of your subject matter. The process of creating an effective elevator speech may take a person many hours of practice. It’s well worth the effort and practicing may seem silly, but you have to do it. Use a mirror, video or ask friends for feedback.

Focusing attention on planning and executing networking is vital to success. Networking in a lackadaisical fashion is a considerable waste of time and both you and the people that are in your networking circles will suffer.

Make the commitment to spend at least and hour a week on planning and preparing for your networking activities. Block off part of the time where you will not be interrupted and examine lists or practicing your elevator speech. Spend the other time calling or connecting with influences so that you can be as prepared as possible at your next meeting or event.

Focus Friday is all about being more effective and successful in business and life activities. Focusing will allow you to save time and achieve goals in both your personal and in your professional life.

Have questions, need a resource? Contact me at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com.

Need to start creating a personal marketing plan?  Email the code PMP2016 to me at info@growyourpersonalbrand.com and I will send you a list of questions to ask yourself to get started.

Looking for some help setting up your LinkedIn plan? Visit www.growyourpersonalbrand.com

Join our groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

Focus Friday: The Snow Day Edition

I am continuingSnow Day my Focus Friday efforts. It is snowing in the Long Island New York area, so I am at home with the kids. I got the message that school was closed while on the rowing machine at 5:20 a.m. My plans for the day have gotten completely turned upside down.  Sound familiar? Snow days and changes in a schedule should not stop anyone’s efforts to grow and market their business or plan for the future. I look at quiet days like this one as an opportunity to focus on certain important tasks and to catch up on others and also to stay mindful of the future and my goals.

Here are my ideas for how to spend a snowy Focus Friday:

  • Snow Day University – The kids may be off from school, but a snow day for you means an opportunity to learn. Do you have a book, magazine articles or blogs that you want to read but haven’t had time? Get them together and spend the day learning more about marketing, business building, sales strategies, catch up on trends in your industry or simply focus on motivation. I like to listen or watch business and personal development related podcasts and TED talks so I can learn about new topics and marketing strategies. Block off the time and commit to learning and self-improvement. Why not spend half your day snow day learning and gaining a competitive advantage. Remember, when you are not learning you’re falling behind.  Take advantage of your free time and attend Snow Day University.
  • Create a Schedule – Even though you are at home, schedule your day’s activities. Set a time for work, set a time for dreaming and set a time for shoveling snow (if you must).
  • snow blowCapitalize on the Quiet – It is hard to concentrate and focus when there are distractions. On this nice quiet snow day, set yourself up and get to work on reexamining your business goals. Review the action steps you have already taken this year and be proud of your accomplishments. If you haven’t completed a task or two, get back on track.
  • Get Organized – Quiet snow days are perfect for re-organizing files, cleaning up your home office or getting tasks done that you have put off. I am cleaning up my office, shredding papers and organizing family photos today.
  • Make Phone Calls – Get in touch with friends, business contacts and others. Most of us are pressed for time and often put off those casual business hellos or “How are you doing?” calls. Snow days are ideal for this. Get your list and make your calls.
  • Relax and Recharge – If the pressure is off to get work done, spend this down time relaxing and recovering from work overload. Do you have a novel you would like to read? Do you like to cook, but don’t have time during the week? Do you need to catch up on sleep? Take advantage of this day to focus on these activities. You will be more productive tomorrow.

It’s easy to sit back and watch TV or do nothing on a snow day. Look at this day as an opportunity to use a quiet environment and unexpected free time to catch up and focus on your goals. Time is one of your most valuable assets use the time you have been gifted to reinvigorate your efforts to achieve your goals and get better organized.

What will you do on your next snow day?

Need to create a personal marketing plan?  Email the code PMP2016 to me at info@growyourpersonalbrand.com and I will send you a list of questions to ask yourself to get started.

Looking for some help setting up your LinkedIn profile to drive market and drive business? Visitwww.growyourpersonalbrand.com

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

Beware of the Groundhog: Groundhog Day Lessons

Punxatawny PhilAs public relations officials, we are constantly on the lookout for media opportunities for clients; some even call them “PR stunts.”   February 2, aka “Groundhog Day,” is one that is often used by politicians.  Everyone wants an end to winter so why not?  The politician will get the photo op and even if the hog sees his shadow, it’s still a win right?  Well, ask New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio. In 2014, when doing the Groundhog Day event, he dropped Staten Island Chuck. Not a good move. Instead of seeing a shadow, Chuck saw stars. And unfortunately, did not recover. (See links below)

What do we take away from this? First, make sure when you do a special event or media event you are well prepared. Walk through what you have to do. Talk about contingencies and if you are not comfortable with picking up a groundhog, don’t do it. The negative press that will be short term and long term can be problematic.

From a marketing perspective, Groundhog Day is cute and there are certainly campaigns and social media comments that can be used to attract some attention.  Groundhog Day is Feb. 2. This year it falls on the first Tuesday of February. Groundhog Day can be a day to actually get your marketing on track. If you have stumbled and have failed with your marketing New Years resolutions, get started again and set your goals for February. You have six weeks till spring (despite what Punxsutawney Phil, Staten Island Chuck and Malverne Mel say).Groundhog

Need some inspiration and a laugh? Watch Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and directed by the late Harold Ramis.  The marketing and life lesson here? Just ask Einstein and his famous quote on the definition of insanity: continuing to do the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  Bill Murray’s character in the movie – Phil Conners – is stuck in a day that he is forced to relive over and over and over again.  Unbeknownst to him, he is changing what he is doing every day. He may not know why at first, but eventually figures out that he has to change who he is to get the girl. After potentially living the same day over and over for years, he makes the changes and he wakes up on February 3. In marketing we have to adapt and change our messages until they resonate with target audiences. Look at what works and what does not. Make the changes and keep track.  Learn from Phil Conners and take Einstein’s advice.

http://nypost.com/2014/09/25/groundhog-dropped-by-de-blasio-died-of-internal-injuries/

http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2014/09/25/staten-island-zoo-may-stop-allowing-mayors-to-handle-groundhogs/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107048/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-phil/post-football-depression-_b_1251109.html

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