246) The Two-Way Street

Michael Goldberg, author of Knockout Networking has a saying: “Networking is a two-way street!”

To elaborate, he then suggests a litany of questions to ponder in any relationship:

  • How can we help one another?
  • How can we work together?
  • How can we be resources for one another?
  • How can we refer each other?

These are great questions. And ones that you shouldn’t consider rhetorical. Rather, whenever you’re in conversation with someone else … whenever you’re thinking about contacts in your network … whenever you’re looking to add value to others …. you should take an active approach to finding reasonable answers to these questions.

As Goldberg will tell you, effective networking is an ongoing process of learning about others and then finding ways to help them. If you consistently engage in this thought process, the vast majority of the time you’ll uncover things you can do to help others. And once you’re consistently helping other, in time, things will come back to you.


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245) Weak Ties Are Strong Ones

Sociological research has shown that the vast majority of opportunities your network provides will not come from close ties, such as friends and relatives. Rather great career opportunities, new client wins, and groundbreaking information come from weak ties. These are people you know, but ones that you only see and interact with occasionally.

Why? Because close ties tend to occupy the same world as you do. Think about it. A spouse or close friend may share many of the same network contacts you already know.

Mere acquaintances, or “weak ties”, on the other hand, are much more likely to know people that you do not. While you might share a small overlap in networks, most of the people they know are completely unknown to you.

So, when it comes to job hunting or finding clients or generally getting ahead, there is much strength in connecting with weak ties.


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187) Embrace Chaos

In October 2014, workers within the London Underground staged a walkout. This sent thousands upon thousands of commuters into utter chaos trying to find alternate ways to get to work. Fortunately, the strike only lasted 48 hours and quickly things got back to normal and the chaos subsided.

Interestingly, however, research determined that about five percent of the commuting population did not revert to their pre-strike commuting habits. It seems that the strike had upended their normal routine and, in so doing, they found a better routine.

We humans are creatures of habit, fixated on patterns. And while these patterns create efficiencies in our lives, they also stifle creativity and critical thinking.

Chaos might disrupt the efficiencies we enjoy, but it also forces us to re-examine our lives. It provides us an opportunity to look for new solutions. In inspires us to create and invent. So, while chaos is never fun, the learning opportunities it might create is reason enough for us to embrace it.


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Great Questions To Ignite “Small Talk”

Great Questions To Ignite “Small Talk”

Small talk kick-starts the networking process. Small talk, however, is about getting the other person talking. This begs the question: What are good questions to ask in this process?

While there is no magic, planning is paramount. Be like an attorney – prepare your questions before you ask them. In other words, have a small handful of questions ready to go. Each of these relates to the person’s life professionally or personally … Or something about their past.

From there, allow the conversation to take itself wherever. A few of these questions could include…

  • What do you do? How long have you been doing it? How did you become interested in that?
  • What are some of the projects or assignments you are currently working on?
  • Are you from this area?
    • If yes – What part?
    • If no – What brought you here?
  • Outside of work, what occupies you? How did you become interested in that?
  • What are some business or community organizations you are involved with?

These will give you a start. From here you might want to formulate your own series of questions. Again, there is no magic. It is simply a matter of planning for how you will get and keep them talking.

Tips For Making Small Talk

Tips For Making Small Talk

Here is an important thing to understand: “Small talk” is not about filling idle time with interesting things to say. Rather, “small talk” is about getting the OTHER person to fill idle time with things to say and you genuinely finding interest in it.

The key to success in “small talk” is having a simple, reliable game plan. Try this one:

Step One: Ask A Question … Now remember, the key is to get them talking, so you need to be ready with questions that are open-ended. “Isn’t this weather crazy?” will not cut it. “How does this crazy weather affect you?” just might.

Step Two: Listen … Really Listen … Take an interest in what they have to say, even if the subject is not particularly interesting to you. Why? First, you just might learn something, something that could help you or something that you can use to help them (which ultimately helps you).

Second (and this is counter-intuitive) if you take an interest in them and whatever they have to say, they will find you to be a very interesting person (and they will not know why). It is just human nature. People tend to like people who show a genuine interest in them.

Step Three: Summarize & Share … As a follow-up (to show you are really listening), summarize what you have heard (or at least do the best you can) and then share a little about the subject as it relates to you. “So, as an avid water skier all this hot weather is great but I find that it kills my golf game.”

Finally, just like the instruction on the shampoo bottle – lather, rinse, repeat – ask another question. Perhaps one that’s related to the first question or maybe some other tangent you would like to explore based on what they said in their answer. For example, “So, if hot weather is good, how do you occupy yourself when it is too cold to take to the lake?” Whatever, the case, keep them talking.

188) Interest In Others Equals Interest In You

No doubt, you have an interest in getting to know those who have an interest in you. Right? It’s simply human nature.

Knowing this, you should make this notion work in your favor. To do so, acknowledge those around you. Make eye contact. Smile. Say hello.

You see, when you acknowledge those around you, they’ll want to get to know you that much more.

When you acknowledge those around you, you make them feel important and from this they cannot help but like you.

And when you acknowledge others, they become more comfortable around you and, in the process, become more trusting.

So, make it a habit to greet everyone you encounter with eye contact, a smile and a friendly hello. From this, they’ll perceive you as being outgoing and friendly, which is just the type that everyone wants in their network.


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189) Have You Met…?

A linchpin to building a successful network is adding value to others. By adding value, people want to know you and become almost compelled to like and trust you. Once you surrender to this notion that adding value is key to building a network, you need to set about finding ways to do that.

That said, there are many ways in which you can you can add value to others. You can make referrals. You can share information. You can simply encourage or celebrate others.

The most lasting way to add value, however, is by bringing people together from different segments of your life. You see, when you connect two people, you set in motion a networking multiplier, because those new contacts share information, referrals, opportunities, and (YES) more contacts.

So, if you want to add lasting, network-building value to someone, connect them to someone they don’t know.


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Why Is There An Apprehension Towards “Small Talk”?

Why Is There An Apprehension Towards “Small Talk”?

For many, the thought of engaging in “small talk” can make them anxious. It comes down to one thing – FEAR. Fear of being rejected. Fear of having nothing to contribute. Fear of getting stumped (or running out of conversation). Fear of getting stuck in a conversation with, well, that stranger that Mom warned you about.

FEAR NOT! The strangers your mother warned you about are no longer interested. You have things to contribute and with a little planning and practice you will never get stumped (and if you do, there is a way out).

As for rejection, know this: Everyone has this fear. EVERYONE. Even the most well connected, confident person will tell you that deep down inside, they have this apprehension. If everyone has this fear, then everyone will welcome you coming up and jumping into conversation with them.

So make someone’s day. Engage in some “small talk” with them.

186) Nix The Quid Pro Quo

Do you operate in a quid pro quo world? You know, one where your every move is measured against a potential outcome?

One where what you do or don’t do is contingent on others acting first or promising to act shortly thereafter? If so, stop.

Trying to match your actions and efforts with likely outcomes is a losing proposition. You’ll pass on wonderful opportunities because “what’s in it for you” might not be readily apparent. You’ll burn significant time and energy sizing up situations to ensure you get your due.

Quid pro quo is for corporate dealmakers, financiers, and pro sports teams who endeavor to match value tit for tat.

It, however, is not well suited at all for building relationships. It has no place in a world where you simply have to trust that your efforts will come back to you.

If you have a quid pro quo mindset, nix it.


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185) Stars & Stripes Forever

In 1776, a young woman was officially “read out” of the Quaker community for marrying outside of her faith. You see, she had fallen in love with and married an Episcopalian named John Ross.

Literally overnight, she was cut off from the life she had known. Despite this setback, John and Betsy began a life together. He served in the army. She started a sewing business. Together they attended church.

John introduced her to Christ Church, which included as parishioners Benjamin Franklin and five others who would eventually sign the Declaration of Independence, as well as George Washington.

At about that same time, George Washington came to the belief that for the revolutionary effort to be successful in rebelling against the King of England, the American troops needed a single flag to unify the 13 colonies. To sew that flag he did not have to look far.

And, yes, networking played a role in this nation’s Independence.


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