Four Keys to Becoming a Networking Catalyst

ID-100227642I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no mechanic. In fact, when I was a kid, my father (who could fix just about anything) took me out to the garage one day and said, “Son, you’d better go to college because you’re never going to make a living with your hands.” Well, that was great advice, Dad. And I think things have worked out pretty well for me as a result of your suggestion.

Despite my lack of skills as a mechanic, I can, however, tell you how a catalytic converter relates to networking and your business. By definition, a catalyst is an agent that initiates a reaction. In networking, a catalyst is someone who makes things happen. Without a catalyst, there is no spark, and not much gets done. So what does it take for you to become a catalyst for your business and your network? Four things: initiative, intention, confidence, and motivation.

  1. Initiative. Catalytic people don’t sit still—they make things happen in all aspects of their lives. As networkers, they stay alert for a problem that needs solving and then spring into action, calling on someone from their network to solve the problem. They operate with a “get it done now” mentality.
  2. Intention. Catalytic people operate with intent and are goal-driven. As networkers, catalytic people have both business and networking goals. They learn the goals of others so they can help people achieve them.
  3. Confidence. Catalytic people have confidence in themselves and in the players on their team. This helps ensure that the task at hand will be accomplished with stellar results.
  4. Motivation. Catalytic people are not only motivated themselves, but they also spur others on to perform at their highest potential. These people encourage others to contribute, sharing their energy and excitement through their words and actions. They are motivated by personal and professional rewards that they can’t wait to share with others, and they desperately want to help others succeed.

To set your network in motion toward helping your business, make it your goal to become a catalytic person. Think of your network as a row of standing dominoes. Each domino will remain standing until you act on the first domino. As a catalyst, you must tap the first domino to watch the chain reaction of tumbling dominoes. Your network is standing in place, waiting for you to set the pieces in motion.

But what if you’re looking at your rows of dominos and realize that there are serious gaps that will disrupt the chain reaction? Or maybe you don’t have nearly as many dominos as you thought. Even if you are a catalytic person, you first need to have a well-rounded and sufficiently populated network.

Introducing Yourself at Networking Events–Top Tips for Overcoming Anxiety

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If the thought of giving a brief introduction of yourself and your business at networking meetings makes your palms sweat, read on . . .

When participating, even as a guest, in various networking meetings or functions, the fact is that you will be required to introduce yourself sooner or later.  Preparing a script for introducing yourself will improve your results.  One of your scripts should be an overview of what you do.  Other presentations can address various aspects of your product or service.  Here’s the script sequence I recommend:

  • Your name
  • Your business or profession
  • Brief description of your business or profession
  • Benefit statement of one of your products or services
  • Your name again

Your name and your business profession are easy enough.  A brief description and a benefit statement can be separate items,  but more often they are intertwined in your message.  It’s fairly easy to combine your business with the benefits of your product or service.  I suggest telling people what you do, as well as what you are:

“I’m a financial planner and I help people plan for their future” or “I’m an advertising and marketing consultant; I help companies get the most out of their advertising dollar.”  These explanations are more effective than saying, “I do financial planning,” or “I plan advertising campaigns.”

In many situations, you’ll be introducing yourself to only one or two people at a time.  Some networking organizations have all the members stand at each meeting, and in round-robin fashion, give a one-minute overview to the entire group.  If you’re a member of a group like this, it is vitally important to vary your presentations.

Many people who are in networking groups that meet every week have a tendency to say the same old thing, time after time.  From what I’ve seen, many weekly presentations are done weakly.  If you don’t vary your presentations, many people will tune you out when you speak because they’ve already heard your message several times.  Your best bet is to give a brief overview, then concentrate on just one element of your business for the rest of your presentation.

If you prepare your brief introduction using these techniques, you will begin to get much more confident at introducing yourself and, what’s better, you’ll begin to get better networking results.  If you try introducing yourself in this way at your next networking meeting or function,

I’d love to hear how it turns out for you–please come back and share your experience in the comment forum below.  Or, if you’ve already done some things to help you with this issue – please share your tactics with us.  Thanks!

Public Speaking–5 Ways to Ditch Your Fear for Good

In many surveys over the years, people have ranked the fear of public speaking as worse than the fear of dying!  Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, networking for your business is going to involve public speaking.  You may find yourself giving a sixty-second elevator pitch at a networking meeting, a ten-minute presentation at a chamber function, or a forty-minute educational presentation to a prospect.

 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

The following 5 strategies are my top tips to help you lose your fear of public speaking and start winning over your audiences with confidence.

1) Prepare, prepare, prepare!  Don’t wing it!  Prepare an outline of what you want to say and practice it.  Use note cards, or type your remarks out on a piece of paper.  (Print with large handwriting or type in a large font–make it ridiculously easy to read so you don’t lose your place in the paragraph.)  Don’t over-prepare though; this can just lead to more anxiety.

2)  Be specific and talk about the things you know best.  At networking meetings, don’t try to teach people everything you do in one short pitch.  Think in terms of teaching the audience something of significance.  Focus on just one or two areas of your business–the topics you feel you understand best.  This will increase your comfort level and reduce stress.

3)  Use handouts, visuals, or PowerPoint slides to support your presentation.  If you’re worried about stage fright, props such as books, slides, handouts, or gadgets will help you keep your mind on your topic, add a special element of interest to your presentation, and give the audience something to concentrate on besides you.  PowerPoint can be a great tool, but it becomes a noticeable crutch if you fall into the trap of reading from the slides.  PowerPoint should support your presentation, not be your presentation.  Read a few of the many books and articles available about how to effectively use PowerPoint.

4) Remember, you’re the expert.  It’s true.  In the eyes of the audience, you are the expert and they want to hear what you have to say.  They’re eager to learn something from you.  If you focus on what you know best, you will feel more confident and be more credible.  Believe in yourself and in your message.

5)  Be creative.  Find a way to communicate that makes you comfortable.  Instead of talking to a group, engage them in conversation; or start with Q & A, and then answer at length.  Don’t be afraid to be different.  Surprise your audience.  Walk around the stage or up into the seats.  People get tired of the same old approach and are invigorated by something unexpected.  Have fun with your message; it will help you turn your nervous energy into positive energy.  The audience will feel it and radiate it back to you, and before you know it, your anxiety is gone.

Here’s the deal . . . you can’t get better at something if you never practice it and the best time to start practicing is now.  So, start this coming week off by looking for opportunities to practice the above tips.  If you’re nervous, start small with your one-minute elevator pitch.  Make it a point to fill the entire minute exactly.  Work up to five-minute and ten-minute talks as you gain confidence.  When you feel ready, look for an opportunity to make a lunchtime educational presentation.  The program chairs of many associations and membership organizations are always on the lookout for speakers.  Position yourself as the expert; enjoy the satisfaction of educating other people.  When you remember to apply the tips in this strategy, we feel confident that it will alleviate much of your speaking anxiety.  One final thought: It’s good to be a little nervous.  Just convert that into positive energy, and you’ll have the audience in the palm of your hand.

I’m really interested in getting some feedback from all of you reading this blog, so please respond in the comment forum below to any or all of the following questions–and/or offer any thoughts related to overcoming the fear of public speaking. Thanks so much!

  • On a scale of 1 — 10,  1 being “not really afraid” and 10 being “more afraid than death,” how afraid would you say you are of public speaking?
  • What mental and physical manifestations of fear and anxiety do you experience when faced with having to speak in public?
  • What tools/strategies/tactics have you personally found to be helpful and effective in managing your fear of public speaking.  Alternately, what tools/strategies/tactics have you found to be useless or ineffective?

Four Keys to Becoming a Networking Catalyst

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no mechanic. In fact, when I was a kid, my father (who can fix just about anything) brought me out to the garage one day and said, “Son, you’d better go to college because you’re never going to make a living with your hands.” Well, that was great advice, Dad. I think things have worked out pretty well with that suggestion.

 

Fully acknowledging my lack of skills as a mechanic, I can, however, tell you how a catalytic converter relates to networking your business.

By definition, a catalyst is an agent that initiates a reaction. In networking, a catalyst is someone who makes things happen. Without a catalyst, there is no spark, and not much gets done.

So, what would it take for you to become a catalyst for your business and your network? Four things: initiative, intention, confidence and motivation.

Initiative. Catalytic people don’t sit still–they make things happen in all aspects of their lives. As networkers, they stay alert for a problem that needs solving, then spring into action, calling on someone from their network to solve the problem. They operate with a “get it done now” mentality.

Intention. Catalytic people operate with intent and are goal-driven. As networkers, catalytic people have both business and networking goals. They learn the goals of others in order to help people get where they wish to be.

Confidence. Catalytic people have confidence in themselves and in the players on their team. This helps to ensure that the task at hand will be accomplished with stellar results.

Motivation. Catalytic people are not only motivated themselves, but they also can motivate others to perform at their highest potential. These people excite others to contribute, sharing their energy and excitement through their words and actions. They are motivated by personal and professional rewards that they can’t wait to share with others, and they desperately want to help others succeed.

To set your network in motion toward helping your business, make it your goal to become a catalytic person. Think of your network as a row of standing dominoes. Each domino will remain standing until you act upon the first domino. As a catalyst, you must tap the first domino to watch the chain reaction of tumbling dominoes. Your network is standing in place, waiting for you to set the pieces in motion.

‘Why People Resist Networking’ Series: Part I–Lack of Confidence

 

In this first video in the “Why People Resist Networking Series,” I list four ideas about why people most likely resist networking and then delve more deeply into detail about the very first idea–Lack of Confidence.

I offer insight into three different reasons why people lack confidence when it comes to networking and then give explanations & solutions (solutions which have helped me in my own networking efforts, I might add) to combat this reasoning which too often prevents people from reaping the benefits of networking for their business.

After watching the video, please leave your feedback, thoughts, and/or comments in the comment forum below.  I would love to hear your feedback as well as your own ideas about why people may lack confidence in regard to networking. Thanks!

Making a Mark with Marketing . . . How Are You Making Yours?

Marketing isn’t something I was always confident about.  When I first started out in business, my degrees were in Political Science and Organizational Behavior.  I had very little marketing experience until I went to work for a transportation company in Southern California and, within a two week span, went from a role in purchasing to a significant role in marketing–a huge change that was an even bigger learning experience.

My marketing experience was trial by fire and reading.  I just started reading books on marketing and learned as I went, and it was that experience that gave me enough knowledge to do some marketing on my own when I later set out as a business consultant. 

If somebody had asked me when I was 25 where I saw myself career wise in thirty years, I would have had no clue that my career would be all about marketing . . . that I would be the Chairman of the world’s largest referral marketing organization.  Sometimes we go places in life we never expected to go but I wouldn’t change a thing about the career path I chose.  I am passionate about helping people grow their businesses and achieve great success through effective referral marketing and after spending over two decades devoted to this work; I really enjoy knowing that the work I do allows me to pass on the marketing knowledge and experience I’ve attained in order to benefit to others.

I was recently asked what my top marketing tip would be and I think it’s really all about building the brand–either the brand of the company or of the individual, depending on the kind of business that you’re in.  Name recognition–that’s the biggest challenge, especially for small companies.  It’s not the same for everybody because every business is a little different and people’s skill sets are different.  For me, in my business, brand building has largely been about writing.  Before the internet I was trying to get articles in newspapers and magazines.  Now it’s much, much easier.  In this age of blogs and social media, even small companies have a global reach.  The problem is all the white noise that’s out there: with so many people wanting a piece of the action you have to be able to stand out.  So, for me, the top marketing tip would be to write, write, write.  Become an expert in your field so people want to follow you because when they follow you, they’re more likely to do business with you.

I’d love to hear how you’re making your mark with marketing–what is your top marketing tip for the other business owners out there reading this blog?

 

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