Archive for October 2010
I recently attended a seminar put on by ESPN and a few hiring managers. The team of people was invited by the University of Florida to talk to students about potential career opportunities with ESPN and ESPN affiliates.
One of the main questions that came up during the seminar was about networking. A student asked “what advice do you have for networking, what can we avoid, and what can we do to maintain good contacts with people in your type of industry?”
This question immediately had the ESPN representatives chuckling, and the Production Manager stood up and said that the idea of networking is plagued by several misnomers. Networking is not simply just collecting business cards for future referencing, but it is about building genuine relationships.
Networking for business
This idea really had me thinking because I consistently write about how social media marketing and scrupulous business practices have a tendency to revolve around the development of relationships. So I tuned in a little closer.
“Networking is about building long term relationships, not pestering a mentor, a client, or a potential partner all the time…if you are communicating with someone more than once a quarter, it may be too much,” she said.
I find this idea extremely interesting because due to today’s technology, it is so easy to communicate with people anytime, anywhere. So keeping in touch once per quarter seems like I would be easily forgettable.
It comes down to this: it’s not about how much you communicate with an individual; it’s about how you do it. What kinds of questions do you ask them? How much do you know about their field of interest before you ask your questions? Be honest, genuine, and professional. Networking is about building relationships, yes – but professional relationships.
What not to do
Don’t pitch too early. Whether you are looking for a new position or trying to sell a new product, the exchange of business cards is not permission to launch into an over practiced sales pitch. You lose the trust (and quite frankly the interest) of whomever you’re speaking to.
Don’t assume closeness. Relationships take time to build and nurture. Think about the relationships you have with your friends, although you may have felt an immediate connection, it took time to build trust and understanding. Trying to latch on to a connection too soon can send them running.
As a small business advocate always on the lookout for new advice for how to start and run a successful small business, I have found several “formulas” and “checklists” that promise the budding entrepreneur success and financial rewards.
However, there is no set path to financial freedom. Small business owners need to be creative, put pressure on the guidelines, and strive to be different from competitors.
I found an article on PowerHomeBiz that describes some survival tips for entrepreneurship, here are a few of the ones from the article I found to be the most helpful:
1. Follow Opportunity Instead of Savoring Security.
This is the hardest one of all. Most of us were brought up to seek out and cling to the security of the 9-5 job. What happens when you mention to your family that you want to leave the security of your pension and go out on your own. They will probably advise you to be sure, to step carefully, to take your time. Some may even advise you against it completely. Are they financially independent? Did they have what it takes to go out on their own?
Are they living the life that they want? One way to avoid getting caught up in this security trap is to set a confirmed time that you will leave your job. Real worth and wealth is generated from within you. It comes from being prepared, knowing how to spot, act upon and capitalize from opportunities.
2. Making a Profit, Not a Living.
If you are still an employee, you probably know how much you will be bringing home next week. But with your own business, you have to remember to focus on making a profit and that means high sales and low overhead. No one signs your check now. To survive you must be focused on how you will make a profit today, tomorrow and next week. You must find ways to keep costs down to the exception of affecting your profit making capabilities.
3. Look For Opportunity, Not Mistakes.
Success is the result of making good decisions. Good decisions are made from good judgment. Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad decisions. This doesn’t mean you should try to make mistakes for experience. The key is to gain experience from the mistakes and success of others. Seek out others in your field. Study and understand why they are succeeding or failing. Don’t expect to make all the right decisions and don’t let the fear of making mistakes inhibit you from pursuing new opportunities. Those who never make mistakes are probably working for those who weren’t afraid of making them.
4. Know What People Want, Instead of Wanting What You Know.
What it all comes down to. Knowing the who, what, where and why of your target customers. The success of your business is not the sum total of the knowledge you have gained, it still is and always will be, the “sale”. Success is determined by what products sell and how well they sell. It isn’t what you know that counts, it’s what your customers want. If you lose sight of this fact, you are doomed to failure. Never lose sight of the fact that marketing your customers’ wants is your number one priority.