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When You Don’t Speak the Language

My husband and I recently vacationed in Montreal for a week. You may know Montreal is a bilingual city, where residents speak both French and English. But make no mistake about it, their first language is French.

Signage around the city is primarily in French. Conversations happening around you are in French. The restaurant menus are in French. (Many also have an English version, but you have to ask for it.)

Montreal may very well be the most European city in North America. Which is why many tourists from other parts of North America choose to visit. It’s a much shorter flight to Montreal than it is to Amsterdam or Paris or Brussels – only an hour and a half on a direct flight from Washington, DC. And if you love road trips, you could even drive there.

Not surprisingly, my high school level French was a bit rusty. However, I felt good that I could still understand some words and phrases. Oh yes, that says, “please wait to be seated”!

It was all fun and games for the first five days. Then we started getting tired. Averaging 17,000 steps a day trekking from one end of the city to the other will do that to you.

It occurred to me as we were exploring one of the underground malls, upon leaving a book store where every single book and calendar and decorative object with a phrase was in French. This reminds me of my semester abroad. I lived in a city where the first language was not English. My friends and I traveled around to other cities, where again, the primary language spoken was not English. It was unexpectedly and incredibly refreshing to finally arrive in London and hear English spoken and see street signs you didn’t have to slowly and consciously translate in your head.

networking outsider foreigner It wasn’t just physical tiredness. There’s a mental tiredness that comes with immersion in a foreign culture.

Interestingly, though not surprisingly, there’s a similar tiredness you can feel from putting yourself in business or networking situations where you aren’t comfortable. After attending two or three networking events where you stand around feeling lost and wondering how to “speak the language,” you’ll experience that same sense of outsiderness.

If that’s the case, why on Earth would you put yourself in such a situation? There is exactly the question my husband asked when I shared the recollection about those study abroad months.

Because that’s how you grow. It’s good to put yourself in uncomfortable places and experience different cultures. Sure, it’s often difficult. But just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean it’s not worth it!

If you’re building a business or a career, your ability to network is crucial to your success. You don’t have the luxury of staying in your warm, safe cocoon for very long before you start seeing ugly consequences.

I get why you’d so desperately want to though! It’s much more comfortable to stay home and browse #scaramucci on Twitter.  You’re at least guaranteed a few laughs.

The good news is there are always steps you can take to make the experience a little less stressful. Baby steps. Start with learning at least the basics of the language. Whether it’s French vocabulary or where to put your name tag when you’re at an industry association luncheon. With a bit of fundamental training, you’ll feel a tad less inadequate. The more you practice, the better you become.

Pretty soon, you’ll feel empowered by that Berlitz training or Zen Rabbit Quick Start Program and you’ll travel to foreign countries or show up to networking events ready to converse fluently.

Hope you found something of interest or value in this article! If you’re considering transforming yourself into someone who is fluent in business networking, let’s chat for a few minutes. It’s easy to schedule a time with me through my calendar here: https://calendly.com/zenrabbit/15min.

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How To Gracefully Exit A Conversation

Today I’m answering a question I get asked ALL. THE. TIME. That question is “How do I gracefully exit a conversation?”

We’ve all been there. You get stuck talking to the guy who wants to tell you all about his latest health issues or how Martians live in his kitchen and manipulate his thoughts. Or maybe it’s not that dramatic. Maybe a conversation is simply over and it’s time to move on.

Since it’s not socially acceptable to say “I’m finished with you,” and walk away, what can you do?

The answer is actually pretty simple. You say, “It’s been nice talking with you. I’m going to let you mix and mingle with some other people. And I’m going to do the same. Take care.”

If you’ve been having a good conversation and you’ll want to connect with the person after the event, say, “It’s been nice talking with you. I’m going to let you mix and mingle with some other people. But let’s touch base in the next day or two and set up a time to continue our conversation.”

Now you’re both free to go talk to someone else.

You could also introduce your conversational partner to someone else, if there’s someone you know nearby.

“It’s been nice talking with you. I’m going to let you meet some other people. Oh, look, here’s Jackie. Have you two met yet? Jackie runs an event planning company. Jackie this is Samantha. Samantha is the director of marketing for a biotech company. She was telling me about how she’s volunteering with a non-profit that’s at the beginning stages of planning a big gala.”

Now you can walk away and let them talk.

It’s not a good idea to use the excuse that you’ve got to go to the bathroom or you’re going to get another drink because then the person can easily say, “Oh, I need to do that too. I’ll come with you.” And then you’re still stuck with them.

Have you got another tried and true way to gracefully exit a conversation? Put it in the comments section here.

Hey hope you enjoyed this video tip. If you want more help on getting better at networking so you can meet more people so you can be more successful, let’s hop on the phone for a few minutes. Schedule a time with me at the link right here: https://calendly.com/zenrabbit/15min

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Why You Need To Stop Paying Attention To Tiger Woods

As I was preparing my lunch today, I was thinking about the recent Tiger Woods situation. Why is everyone so interested in the life and misdeeds of Tiger? And how is his recent news coverage relevant to quiet business owners who want to be better at networking?

be better at networking

Tiger is a celebrity in large part because he’s a world-class golfer. But there are other world-class golfers who don’t have his level of celebrity. He’s also so well-known because he capitalized on his golf world celebrity and leveraged it into something much larger.

As a business professional, you can do the same within your market, your town, your niche. Which is why it’s time to stop paying attention to him and pay more attention to your own celebrity.

You Can (and Should) be a Celebrity Too!

Building your own celebrity will take some time and effort. You have to be deliberate about it. Writing blog articles, shooting videos, engaging on social media are all important methods of building credibility and a certain level of celebrity.

And then there’s the in-person networking. Networking is equally, if not more, important in building your celebrity status within a community. Your audience of prospects, referral sources and general supporters need to meet and get to know you.

They genuinely WANT to hear what you have to say. But for quiet entrepreneurs and business professionals, that networking part can be daunting.

Get in the Damn Car

I get it. It’s often difficult to summon the energy to get yourself to go to an early morning breakfast or an after-hours mixer, never mind the three-day conference. Trust me, I’ve conjured up or heard all the excuses. Oh look, it’s raining and I don’t want to get these shoes wet. I can’t go today; I’ll go next time. I’m tired, the cat needs a bath, I need to take the car for an oil change. Yeah, no. Get in the car.

Once you get yourself through that door, (remember to set your intention), use a few of the strategies I’ve talked about in other posts to help you get started. Take the “make a friend” approach to help you relax.

Put on Your Reporter Hat

Pretend you’re a reporter to take the focus off yourself and encourage your conversation partners to talk about themselves and what they love. People LIKE people who listen to them, so you instantly become more likable and take a step closer to celebrity status. When you’re doing asking questions and listening, you want to find out as much about someone else as you can, so you can find

1, Commonalities

2. Ways you can help her

3. Reasons to follow up after an event

Of course, you do need to share some information about yourself and what you do too. While it’s true people love people who listen to them, it’s also important for them to know who you are as well. That’s how you start developing your reputation. These contacts think well of you the next time they come across someone who needs your services or a something that would be a good resource for you.

You Do What?!

Since you’re keeping most of the focus on listening, it’s imperative to have your “pitch” down pat. You have to be able to quickly and clearly explain exactly what you do, and for whom, and why it’s important. The goal is to get people to say, “Tell me more,” or “How do you do that?”

You want to create a point of connection and you want to do it quickly. At a networking event, no one has the time or patience to listen to a rambling 15 minute explanation. Give your information and move the conversation back to your new contact.

Put the attention back on her once again, before gracefully extracting yourself from this conversation and moving on to someone else.

Go to events regularly and use this system of connecting. Yes, it’s not going to feel natural or comfortable at first. After a few times within the same group or organization, you’ll start to become “known” for whatever it is that you do. People will recognize and remember you. Pretty soon, you’ll become a celebrity, at least within that community. You build your metro area, national and international fame from there.

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Just make sure you use your celebrity wisely and don’t get caught in embarrassing or compromising situations. 😮

Hey, hope you enjoyed this article. If you want more info on how to get clear on the message you share at networking events, let’s hop on the phone for a few minutes. Set up a complimentary call with me here: https://calendly.com/zenrabbit/15min.

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What Does Networking for Business Have to do with Answering Your Phone?

How does networking for business have anything to do with answering your phone?

Have you ever called a business and heard the person on the other end of the phone simply answer with, “Hello?”

Now you’re thinking “I thought I was calling XYZ Accounting. I may have the wrong number.”

“Is this XYZ Accounting?” you ask.

“Yeah. How can I help you?” is the reply.

Making Customers Feel Weird & Uncomfortable

That whole encounter is weird and uncomfortable. Do you want to make your potential clients or customers feel weird and uncomfortable when they call you? I doubt it. That’s why it’s important to answer the phone in a professional manner.

Yes, yes. I am all about overcoming your fear of networking and helping you build business relationships. What’s answering the phone got to do with that?

Networking for Business Answering Your PhoneHere’s what. When you meet someone at a networking event and they follow up with you via a phone call, it behooves (vocabulary word for today, look it up) you to present a professional image. Even if you are a solopreneur. It’s part of your branding and marketing.

First of all, you want callers to know they’ve reached the right place.

Second, you want to put callers at ease and welcome them. Give the impression you’re happy to talk with them.

If, for some reason, you’re not happy to take a call right now, don’t answer the phone, and let them go to voicemail. (We’ll get to your voice mail message in a moment.)

Reciting All Your Terms & Conditions Isn’t Necessary

You certainly don’t want to make callers listen to a whole long speech before they can talk, so it’s best to keep it simple. If it’s before noon,

I’ll say, “Good morning. Thanks for calling The Quiet Girls. This is Lori.” Now they know what company they’ve reached and exactly with whom they’re speaking.

And say it with a smile. Even if they can’t see you, callers can hear a smile in your voice.

Running more than one venture or have some other reason for not wanting to identify a company name? Ok. Simply go with “Good morning. This is Lori.” At least give the caller some kind of connection to who’s answering the phone.

Jeg Taler Ikke Dansk

Networking for Business Answering Your PhoneWhen I did a semester abroad and lived with a family in Copenhagen, Denmark, I learned that the standard way of answering the phone there is to say your phone number. Presumably that’s so the person calling gets confirmation of what number they’ve dialed.

I tried never to answer my family’s phone, because, despite daily language lessons from my family members, my Danish was not so good. There’s no way I could have said the number well enough that the caller could understand me.

And then of course, I wouldn’t have been able to carry on the rest of the conversation in Danish either.

Now that we all have phone numbers programmed into our phones or we simply click a link and it auto dials for us, I wonder if the Danish still answer their phones that way.

Let it Go to Voicemail

Then there’s the issue of people not answering their phone at all if they don’t recognize the incoming number. I admit it. I am guilty of this habit.

We’ve been driven to this practice because of all the robo and telemarketing calls! Very often, I’ll let a call go to voicemail and hope the caller leaves a message. If they do, I’ll call back right away. No message, no callback.

It’s terrible that it’s come to this, but no one’s got time to deal with computer woman saying, “Hello. You’ve been preapproved for a business loan of up to $10,000…” Arg!

Leave Your Name at the Tone

Networking for Business Answering Your PhoneSo not only do you need to have a professional way to answer the phone when you do pick up incoming calls, you also need a professional sounding outgoing voice mail message.

Again, you want to sound welcoming. Confirm the caller’s reached the right place and encourage her to leave a message.

I like to actually script out my message and practice it a few times before I record it so it sounds natural.

Right now when you call my voicemail, you’ll hear “Hi there! You’ve reached the voice mail for Lori Saitz and The Quiet Girls. Let me know who you are and how to reach you back. We’ll connect soon!”

Your message doesn’t have to be long, nor do you need to tell the caller to start at the tone. People know that by now.

It’s surprising though how many people won’t leave their call back number, so it is a good idea to remind them of that part! If you’re the one leaving the message for someone else, never assume they’ll see your call back number show up as a matter of course.

Texting does not rule in the business world. Phone calls do still take place, so make sure you’re putting your best foot – er – voice forward and setting the stage for a good relationship.

Help!

Should you call those people you met at last night’s after hours event? What should you do with those business cards you collected? If you need assistance figuring out the follow up after a networking event, let’s chat. Pick a time for a complimentary 15-minute call with me here.

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Networking Mistakes – Name Tags

Networking News Flash – Talking about name tags today. Where does it go? And why? Get the 411 in today’s video tip.

This networking tip video was originally aired as a Facebook Live. Come interact with us over on The Quiet Girls Facebook page.

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Building Relationships – A Lesson From My Mom

It was on this day three years ago that my mom “was entered into rest,” as it says on the memorial card we got from the cemetery. As anyone who has mourned a loved one knows, there are always those days when it’s hard to believe she’s not around. But in reality, she IS still around. She’s in my dreams fairly regularly. In fact, I probably see her more now than when she was alive. And I am still learning lessons from her.

A few months ago, my brother texted me that she was in one of his dreams. “Ugh, even when she’s dead, we’re still arguing about politics!” Yep, see they never leave you. Ha Ha.

On this anniversary, I offer tribute to her, as the inspiration for this business of networking strategies for quiet people.

I had actually decided to close my previous business, Zen Rabbit Baking Company, a month or so before she was diagnosed. So it wasn’t because of her illness or passing; it simply happened to coincide. The following two years were about learning to be okay with being in transition, okay with not having a clear focus. When I was ready for my next venture and considering ideas, I heard Eben Pagan ask this question: What is it you’re great at, that you actually wouldn’t have guessed people would pay you to teach them because it’s so natural and automatic to you?

Remember Curly from City Slickers?

The answer for me was building relationships. That’s my Curley’s one thing. I have friends I’ve had since I was a baby. Where did that innate ability to maintain friendships, and later business relationships, come from?

Building Relationships It came from my mom. She maintained relationships with her friends the same way. My mom and Aunt Carole were friends since they were five years old. Then they went to college together and raised their kids together. My Auntie Ann was her college roommate and she stayed friends with her throughout her life, even though they lived almost 1,300 miles apart. My Aunt Marlene and Aunt Peggy. And remember, this was long before social media and unlimited talk & text plans.

I look around now and see many of my high school classmates are still friends with each other. So maybe it’s not that unusual. But I’ve also seen studies that say just less than half the population has two or more and 48% have only ONE close friend on whom they can call in a crisis. That’s unbelievably sad! All these people feeling isolated, lonely and disconnected.

Despite all the online connection, face to face, human connection is still the way we’re wired. Living in tribes is how humans started out and likely how we will continue.

How Are You at Building Relationships?

Do you have personal tribe of friends on whom you can call at any hour of the day or night? I’m talking about people outside the crazy dynamics of your immediate family. When it comes to your business, do you have a tribe of supporters who would walk over broken glass for you? If not, because they can be critical to your success, how can you find or build one?

Speaking of tribes, have you read Seth Godin’s book “Tribes” yet?

Here is exactly the reason why in-person networking is so vital. As I said, face to face communication is still how humans are wired to build trust and get to really know and like each other. When you join organizations such as the National Speakers Association, or the National Association of Professional Organizers, or eWomenNetwork, or Her Corner, or a Chamber of Commerce, AND you go to networking events and conferences regularly, you put yourself in the position to start and build important relationships.

Yes, it can be scary at first. You feel like you’re the only loser who doesn’t already know everyone. And the more events you go to, the easier it becomes.

You’ve GOT this. You CAN figure it out. Almost everyone does, eventually. If you’d like a little help to shorten the learning curve, or you’d like to go about it a bit more strategically, set a free, 15-minute “Find Out More” call with me here.

Not everyone is or will become as outgoing as my mom was, and that’s okay. I recently posted on Facebook about a presentation I gave called “Ignore Mom’s Advice & DO Talk to Strangers – How to Overcome Your Fear of Networking & Build Strong Relationships for Business Success.” My mom’s friend Tina commented, “I had to chuckle at the title because your mom was ALWAYS talking to strangers.”

You Don’t Have to Talk to Everyone!

Yes, Ha Ha, I didn’t necessarily inherit that characteristic from her. You won’t find me chatting up strangers on the Metro. However, I am grateful for the unspoken lesson from my mom on how to build and maintain relationships and the learned skill of starting conversations at networking events.

When you’re ready to raise your game and want to apply my tips and strategies so you can more easily find clients and get referrals, schedule that free, 15-minute “Let’s Chat” call.

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Navigating Networking Events – Schedule Downtime

I’m smiling as I leave a one to one meeting with a new colleague. You know that feeling when you meet someone with whom you really click? We were introduced by a mutual acquaintance. Given the large number of mutual connections we’ve now discovered we have, it’s incredible we’d not met before.

Navigating Networking Events

Of course we shared what we each do and who our ideal clients are. Our conversation rambled from analysis of different networking organizations to book recommendations to best podcasting tools. Now that we’ve spent an hour and a half talking and bonding, we’ll be on the lookout for relevant speaking opportunities to alert each other to. Oh, and good tea blends, since we discovered a common interest there. I’ve also made a note about a few people to whom I’m going to introduce her.

Sharon comes across as a very outgoing and friendly person. She hugged hello when I first arrived at the coffee shop. At some point in our time together, she admitted that while she comes across as an extrovert, she’s really an introvert at heart. She said she’s good at meeting people at events, but she has to stop and take a few breaths to prepare herself before walking into the room. Then once she leaves, she can’t wait to get home and be alone.

It never ceases to amaze me who identifies as a quiet girl.

You’re Not Alone in Your Fear of Networking

I put this out there for those of you reading because I want you to know you’re not alone. You’re not the only one who feels apprehensive about going into networking events. Many of those women you see, who appear so comfortable and chatty, feel just like you do. The difference is they’ve learned how to manage their fear and channel their energy into a few good conversations.

Navigating Networking Events Then you can go home, kick off your shoes and crack open a good book while the cat curls up in your lap. Part of learning how to successfully navigate networking events is learning to manage your energy. You may find you can handle three events a week. Or your limit might be just one.

Last week my schedule included two early morning breakfast events, an evening speaking engagement, an all-day summit and a Toastmaster meeting. Plus client calls, a few one-to-one meetings and a Facebook live interview. At the end of the week, I was toast.

It was a good reminder that I need to be more cognizant of over-scheduling myself. As much as I do love meeting and talking to new people now, it can still wear me out.

Some weeks are going to be like that. You need to take advantage of opportunities when they come up. You also need to give yourself downtime to recover. Schedule a massage for Friday afternoon, make sure to get your workouts done, or let yourself sleep in over the weekend.

Both networking activities and quiet alone time are critical to the success of your business. As with most things in life, it comes down to balance.

Need a little assistance in choosing which networking events or conferences to attend this season? Or how to navigate networking events? The Quick Start Program could be for you. To schedule a 15-minute “Let’s Chat” call, click here.

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Making Up The Truth

Have you ever come to a conclusion about something – decided on a truth – that wasn’t true? You later found out you made it all up in your head?

attending networking eventsOver the weekend, I made a delicious butternut squash soup. My husband was in the middle of working on something, so I brought some over and just offered him a taste. Later in the evening, I asked him if he’d eaten any soup. He said he thought I made it for some reason other than for us to eat. Um, what? Why would I be making it if not for us to eat?

I didn’t say not to eat it. Somehow he concluded that because I’d only given him a taste from my bowl and not delivered unto him his own bowl, this soup must not be for him. Sometimes making up stories in your head serves you and sometimes it doesn’t. Are you making up truths and assigning meanings that aren’t even remotely accurate?

Recently I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic,” which I highly recommend! In it, she telattending networking eventsls about an encounter she had at a book signing for her best-selling “Eat Pray Love.” A woman came up to her and thanked her for writing the book. She said she could really relate to the part where Liz talked about her abusive husband and the book gave her the courage to leave her abusive marriage as well. Liz was stunned because nowhere in her story did she say her husband had been abusive. There hadn’t actually ever been any abuse in her relationship at all. But somehow this reader “saw” a part of the story that didn’t exist. As it turned out, the woman’s made up story served her well and led her to leave a dangerous situation.

Are you seeing things that aren’t there?

Many times however, we see things that aren’t there, take action based on those assumptions and those made up stories don’t serve us.

Several years ago, when I was running Zen Rabbit Baking Company, I was looking for a contract bakery to make the Gratitude Cookies for me. I spent months researching and calling every bakery in the state of Florida, to no avail. I believed my baking partner had to be in the same state where I was. There wasn’t really any logical reason for this belief; it’s just what I assumed to be true. Once I changed my perspective and opened the door to believing something different, a mutual contact introduced me to the perfect baker in West Virginia.

What do you tell yourself about your business that may or may not be true? What stories are you making up about going to networking events, about talking to people you don’t know, about what other people might think? And what would happen if you simply made up new stories – stories that work more in your favor?

What if you created a different story?

Maybe you could feel more comfortable starting conversations with new people if you believed they have been waiting to talk to you for weeks. Ok, they didn’t necessarily know they wanted to talk with you until they actually meet you, but once you get into a conversation, they realize you have information they’ve been needing. I don’t know what info that is. Maybe you don’t either, right away. But you can still see yourself as an important messenger.

And your job at this event is to strategically and intuitively seek out the people who either have info for you or you for them. Yes, I said intuitively because intuition (or guidance from a higher power) can play an important role here.  It leads you to someone you didn’t know you needed to meet.

attending networking eventsThink for a minute. Have you ever been at a party and gotten into a conversation that delivered exactly the message you needed at that moment? Or met someone who became an important person in your life through a chance encounter? These crazy wonderful meetings can only happen when you’re in the “right” place. So you have to put yourself in the places or circumstances where they can happen. They do not occur when you’re just sitting on your couch watching cat videos.

Back to the original premise of making up meanings. Can you change the meaning you assign to attending networking events and make them less intimidating and more fun? If you need help with this endeavor, schedule a 15-minute “Let’s Chat” call with me and let’s see if I can be of service.

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You’ve Gotta Pick a Lane

My friend Dawn recently published an article about political activism. In it she writes that if you want to actually accomplish anything, it’s important to focus on only one or two issues. Nothing gets accomplished when you’re trying to do everything all at once. I thought immediately about how the message applies to your business too.

Too many solopreneurs and business owners are running down too many paths. It’s an exhausting exercise in futility. In order to make a real impact, you have to focus on the most important thing. You hear people talking about priorities all the time. When you Google the word priority, you see it defined as “a thing that is regarded as more important than another.” So you technically can’t have five or 10 priorities. You can have ONE.

In business, you can’t truly have five or 10 areas of focus. Pick one, maybe two if they’re closely related.

Have you ever met someone who, when you ask “what do you do?” comes back with “Well, I’m a real estate agent and I also run a social media marketing company. On Mondays I teach guitar lessons to kids. Oh, and I have a wedding planning business. Sometimes I help my husband with bookkeeping for his landscaping company.” Holy freaking cow! Really? You do all that?

You can NOT seriously be focused and good at doing ALL those things! I walk away from that conversation thinking this person is a disorganized mess. And there is no way I would call on her for any of those services, much less send her a referral.

Of course you want to have a full life and not miss out on anything. But when you can’t quickly and easily state your area of expertise, more often than not, it’s a case of hedging your bets. You’re not confident enough in your abilities to focus on one thing and say you’re an expert in that area.

Think about it though. Experts get paid more than generalists. Cardiologists get paid more than general practitioners. And if I had a heart condition, I want the best cardiologist I can find – not someone who dabbles in heart health and also podiatry and sells hearing aids on the side!

When it comes to your business, you need to pick a lane. What do you do and how do you do it? How exactly you define your lane is up to you and open for discussion. Some people define a niche by industry – “I work with high tech sales professionals.” That’s one way to go. You can also define your market by the size of their business – say companies with $10-50 million in gross revenue. Or by certain characteristics or demographics, such as vegetarian women who work full-time and have young children in day care. You have a million choices here.

You can carefully define exactly what you offer so you attract only those who need exactly what you can deliver. I’m thinking of my friend and mentor Jan, who teaches people to be BOLD speakers. She doesn’t narrow her market to any one industry or demographic. She defines her ideal people as those who want to become better speakers. They might be in corporate or own their own business or work for the government. Doesn’t matter if they’re men, women, CEOs, emerging leaders, engineers, or sales people. What’s important is her clear definition of what she does and what she delivers. So everyone knows, if you want to be a BOLD speaker, you work with Jan.

I guide quiet girls from feeling intimidated in networking situations to confidently starting conversations with strangers so they can build relationships that support the success their businesses.

Are you as clear about what benefit you provide and to whom? If you’re not, you’re making it a thousand times more difficult on yourself to get clients and for people to send you referrals.

Clarity leads to action.

When people know who you are, what you do, and exactly with whom you work best, they can refer business to you. If they’re confused, they’ll just move on. We don’t have the patience or attention span to spend time figuring it out. Make it easy to understand and easy to remember what you stand for. Once you do that, when you go to networking events, you can confidently share your excitement and expertise and stand out in the mind of the people you meet.

Need help with clearly defining what you do, how and for whom? Let’s set up a quick call to see if I can be of service in helping you get clarity around your marketing message.

photo credits: stressed woman & confused emoticon ©

 

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When The Shoe Doesn’t Fit

Here we are at the beginning of a new year. It feels like there’s so much pressure to “get things right.” What’s your word for this year? What’s your theme? What are your goals?

creating a networking strategyAck! I love the idea of a fresh start. But I’ve never liked the idea of doing what everyone else is doing, in exactly the way they’re doing it. It doesn’t necessarily feel comfortable to me. What I prefer is the idea that you can have a fresh start any day you choose. You don’t have to choose January 1, or even any day in January.

You may have heard the premise that in order to accomplish anything of great significance, you need to get out of your comfort zone. I get it and believe that to be true. However, there’s a difference between stepping out and doing something new and different in order to reach a new level of development and trying to shove a size 8 foot into a size 5 shoe. Ouch!

Both are uncomfortable, but only one is going to serve any good purpose once you’ve forced yourself to do it. The key is to be honest with yourself about the difference. It’s easy enough to say “I don’t want to go to networking events because I don’t feel comfortable making small talk with strangers. That’s just who I am; I can’t change.” True that may be who you are today. But not true that you can’t change – if you WANT to, if you have reason enough.

How to Know the Difference

Here’s one way to figure out if your feelings of discomfort are holding you back or protecting you from disfigured feet.

If the actions you’re taking, or not taking, today are serving you, then by all means, continue them. However, if they’re NOT serving you and you’re frustrated because you’re not moving toward your desired goals, then now is a good time to reexamine the idea of making a change. Consider doing something that’s uncomfortable, but that you anticipate will move you closer to what you ultimately want.

Let’s say you hate the idea of networking. You feel awkward, you don’t know what to say to people, you feel like everyone else knows someone there and you’re an outsider. But your business is struggling because you don’t have enough clients. Or you could use some help in the form of a local assistant but you don’t how to find that person. Or all your “real life” friends work at a corporate jobs and they don’t understand your life as a solopreneur.

Staying home and NOT networking because that’s what feels comfortable is NOT serving you. So it would make sense to get up the courage to go to a few networking events and meet other people from your community. Maybe you’ll meet an architect who can refer business to you. Maybe you’ll have a conversation with a banker who has a friend who would be a great fit as your assistant.

The KEY is to figure out how to do the uncomfortable thing in a way that IS comfortable. You don’t HAVE to pick a theme or set your annual goals in January. You don’t HAVE to network the way everyone else does it, or the way you think you’re “supposed to.” You don’t HAVE to become more outgoing or act like someone you’re not.

Learn how to network in a way that feels comfortable to you. Develop a strategy that works for you – one that allows you to remain authentic to who you are. That could mean figuring out exactly which networking events are most useful for you to attend. That could mean coming up with a plan before you get there for how many people you want to meet (and allowing yourself to leave without feeling bad once you reach your quota). That could mean clarifying exactly what you have to offer so that the people with whom you share your message can easily send you referrals.

networking strategyGoing back to the shoe analogy, this isn’t about squeezing your foot into a shoe that’s too small, trying to walk and pretending it doesn’t hurt or look ridiculous. And it’s not about cursing the shoe for being too small, throwing it against the wall and stomping away while screaming “shoes don’t work for me!” It’s about finding a shoe that fits comfortably and looks good.

If you need help creating a comfortable networking strategy, I can help you. Sign up for The Quick Start Program. As for finding comfy, stylish footware, you’re on your own.