Here’s a link to a GREAT primer from Portland’s Neighborhood Notes blog that’s titled, “How Small Business Owners Should Be Networking.” It’s really all about the basics of networking for everyone and even covers how to utilize new school tools to make the most out of in-person opportunities. Below are the first few paragraphs to hopefully entice you into reading the rest of the post:
Networking doesn’t have to feel like a sale. Or an awkwardly ostentatious forum for egotistical schmoozing and one-upmanship.
Networking should feel more like socializing—finding common interests and then sharing ideas and solutions to problems—especially in Portland’s diverse but cooperative small business culture.
So-called networking “events” shouldn’t even necessarily be formal affairs or paid conferences, but rather a real, honest encounter where you can develop professional collaboration or even a friendship. And while networking often means breaking out of your shell and putting your best foot forward, many difficult situations in life are also moments of growth and require going outside of your comfort zone.
Here’s the link again:
It’s time to start your “What I Need to Shelve for 2012″ list. Every Thanksgiving over our turkey dinner my husband and I start to talk about the things from the current year that we do NOT want to carry with us into the next. Here’s a post I wrote with the start of last year’s list and an explanation of why I think this is a worthwhile exercise.
A leave behind list is something I usually start over Thanksgiving weekend. It includes all the things I would like to leave behind at the end of the year so I can start the next one with a clean slate. I’ve included everything on my past lists from bad behaviors (eating after 8 pm), to ineffective financial policies (not requesting payment in advance for certain types of work), to certain types of relationships. Some of my past leave behinds can be found in this blog post from 2008, and a few recent examples include:
-Loyalty to certain rewards programs. (So long American Express cards!
-Engaging in email or status update one-upmanship.
-TweetDeck and its tendency to activate the latent ADD in me. (I prefer HootSuite.)
-Trying to befriend people that have no interest in friendship and only want to “leverage” their belief that they “know” me. (“Oh, I know Sandy! We’re even connected on LinkedIn.”)
I’m thinking long and hard about this year’s “What I Don’t Want to See Again in 2010” list, and thanks to what I’ll just call a fairly weird year, I think it is best to keep this one to myself.
When New Year’s Eve rolls around, I’ll take the list and either burn it in a fireplace or bonfire or bury it at the beach. Or, if you don’t have access to anything organic, just flush it down a toilet and say goodbye and good riddance to those things on the list. It always feels great once it’s gone from view and I highly recommend this exercise as a holiday tradition to start this year.
And, on the flip side, it’s also fun to start a “What I Want To Attract” (or what I’m calling my “What Would Be Heaven in 2011”) list for the New Year, but be sure to keep that one somewhere handy or visible. I either hang it on the refrigerator or keep it as a note in my wallet or on my desktop so it’s always somewhere to remind me of what I want more of in the new year.
Happy Holidays!Read More
“Thank You Notes 101” is the title I decided to give this blog post because it’s better for SEO, but I really wanted to name it “Why Bother With Thank You Notes” or “Thank You Notes and then some…”
I know a lot of folks think that thank you notes are more in the realm of etiquette, but I believe they are not only a sign that someone has good manners, they also indicate what I refer to as “basic business savvy.” Not much else creates the same impression or positive social capital as a well written, genuine and timely thank you note. (Earlier this year, I even wrote about a “Best Thank You Note Contest” I came across.)
I’ve always found that the end of the year is a great time to turn the “To Do” of holiday card writing into an enjoyable gratitude exercise and use it to write personal thank you notes to:
- Business/referral partners
“I am proud that you think so highly of Bella Domain that you recommended our services to one of your clients. Many thanks for your thoughtfulness.”
“I hardly know how to express my gratitude for your assistance; without it, the deal would never have closed.”
“Your kindness and responsiveness during a very stressful time were deeply appreciated.”
“Words cannot express the heartfelt thanks of my team. Your assistance was invaluable.”
“I was so glad you were able to attend. Your insightful questions helped put the client’s challenges in a whole new light.”
“I appreciated the opportunity to learn the ropes from a real rock star like you.”
“My time is your time – anytime.”
“You were very kind to take time to meet with me about developers. I hope to have the opportunity to return the favor when you’re ready to talk about your launch.”
“The gift of time is priceless. Thanks for the countless hours you devoted to the WITI proposal.”
“We think you have just redefined ‘above and beyond.’ The presentation deck was more than anyone could have imagined.”
“I know you had to put aside some important projects to complete the proposal deck. I just wanted to tell you how much it meant to us. Please use this gift card to take your team out on our behalf.”
“Your efforts added a new dimension to the scope of our upcoming social media project. Thanks for being there when it mattered.”
“I just wanted to let you know that I never take clients for granted. I will do everything possible to continue to deserve your business.”
“Many things have changed since we started doing business together. One thing has not: I value our relationship and will do all I can to strengthen it in the coming year.”
In lieu of a gift
Now, granted, some of the vendors or employees you’re thanking might prefer, and even warrant, a gift card along with the note (see below). However, when you can’t afford gifts, or it’s not appropriate because of a corporate policy, a well-written thank you note creates a lasting impression and is often posted up on a bulletin board and glanced at all year long. I recently read that President Clinton advised Oprah to write thank you notes in letterform and kept to a single page so they’d be easier for the recipient to frame and hang on a wall. Not exactly what I’m talking about here, but it proves my point. People hang onto thank you notes and the gratitude or recognition within them.
When I managed a large team of what I like to affectionately refer to as “junior mints” (either directly or indirectly), as the VP of Research Operations at a past employer in Chicago, each year-end I would take time throughout the month of December to personalize a holiday card for each member of my staff. I couldn’t afford to buy them each a gift, but I could take the time to write a note thanking them for specific things they’d done during the year or to recognize their unique talents and contributions to the company. I knew the notes were received as I’d hoped when I would still see them hanging on the cube or office walls of the recipients long after the holidays had past and into the next year.
So why not take some time this year to write thank you notes/holiday cards and put some thought into how specific people have helped you in your business, career or life in 2010 and tell them how grateful you are that they’re in your network? You’ll be surprised at how good you’ll feel when you write them and how much good karma you’ll experience once you pass them onto the deserving recipients.
When a gift is appropriate
One word of caution though, if you have biz or referral partners that have sent revenue generating business, or other types of significant opportunities your way, think very carefully about what else you could do to show your gratitude this year. If you haven’t reciprocated or offered them some form of trade, well, that’s just bad business savvy. And, if you’re not sure how you can reciprocate or what they might value in trade, simply ASK THEM.
BTW, as a biz owner you’re allowed gift allowances as a business expense
(here’s a WomenEntrepreneur.com article covering this), so if you don’t have a formal referral program in place (which I recommend), or don’t extend some form of a gesture of thanks other than an email, you just might see fewer opportunities or leads sent your way next year. I’m just saying…..
My #10 and final tip for 2010?
Read this blog post titled, “20 LinkedIn Case Studies for Personal Branding” from Kyle Lacy. I spotted it on the Personal Branding Blog. I’m grateful that Kyle culled these stories and saved me the trouble! I think my favorite is #11 because it mentions that Jeff Ragovin of Buddy Media “..found success with quality not quantity.”
I’m certain reading this motivating post will generate some new ideas for career as well as business development activities for the new year. Enjoy! P.S. If you need help developing a strategy for applying any of these to your 2011 goals just email me!Read More