Networking Tip: #29 Speed Networking

Time me
Time me (Photo credit: mrlins)
Love it or hate it - speed networking is a great way of meeting a large number of people in a short period of time.

Some people dislike it because of the speed at which you connect with people without having a chance to really have a conversation.

The purpose of attending a speed networking event is that you get to talk to EVERYONE in the room and not just the half a dozen people you manage to connect with at a normal networking event.  For this reason, they're popular.

It's noisy, it's frantic but it can be fun and don't forget that it's only the initial connection that you're making.  It's then your chance to follow-up after the event and really get the conversation going.

The same criteria apply to your reasons for attending other networking meetings.  Are they the right people for you to meet.

Some speed networking events operate a closed policy in that only one person from each industry is represented.  That way you won't meet five accountants, six printers etc.

There are different ways of running the event and the host needs to be skilled in moving people around the room in a timely manner so that it works smoothly.

They tend to work in two main ways:

Speed Networking 5
Speed Networking 5 (Photo credit: MadPole)
Method 1 - you're seated or standing opposite a room of attendees.  You have one or two minutes to deliver your 'pitch' - the other person then has their one or two minutes and then you move on the next person.  Repeating the process until everyone has 'met' everyone else.

Method 2 - you're seated in small groups around tables.  Only one person on each table speaks at any one time and circulates in an organised way (according to a complicated equation understood only by higher mathematicians and NASA), so that by the end, everyone has still presented to everyone else but the volume level is lower and you don't have to repeat yourself to the number of attendees.

With Method 1 - potentially dozens of people are talking at one time, it's noisy and can be confusing - who's turn is it to speak, how much time have you got, where do you go next.  Method 2 is less frantic and much more comfortable.

You're also likely to be slightly brain dead by the end of it.  Being bombarded by information from twenty to thirty strangers is confusing and overwhelming.  Here are a few tips for speed networking:

  • Leave bags, coats at the side of the room - have the minimal amount to carry around - you'll be moving around a lot.
  • Check how many people are going to be there and have enough business cards, leaflets etc. for everyone.  You don't want to run out.
  • Have a bottle of water with you - you'll be doing a lot of talking (Method 1).
  • Hone your one minute presentation - keep it clear and succinct.  If you can and you have time, ask a couple of questions.
  • Take notes - you won't be able to remember half the people you've met by the time you've finished.  Write on their business card or notebook but remember you don't have much time and you need to be listening.
  • Make a note of anyone you'd like to talk to again, as you go - you might be able to talk to them after the main session.

Remember to follow-up afterwards.

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After The Event - Now What?

Artefacts learning ideas

I was at the IFP Paraplanner Conference last week and have done a few talks this month.  One of the recurring questions or comments is often - "I've heard all this great stuff, I've learned all these great things but I know I'm too busy to put it all into practice."

Many people were motivated by the various talks throughout the day and enthused by the speakers and came away full of ideas.

Well, if you were taking notes during the sessions, the first thing you need to do is to plan time to go through them.  Whether it's at the end of the day's event or when you get back in to the office.  It's important.  You've spent the time and money (or your company has paid for you to attend), so you need to maximise your and their investment.

Don't lose those great ideas.  Commit to what you're going to put in to action.  What are you going to change or do differently as a result of the event?  What's realistic, what's practical, what do you need to do to make the change?

Set aside the time to do your Strategic Thinking - whether on a personal or business level.

Team up with a colleague, coach or mentor to help make that change happen.  If you went to the event with a colleague - buddy up with each other to check in and agree what you'll do and hold each other accountable over the next few days, weeks and months.  Review and accountability are key to making changes and sticking with them.

Otherwise, I know what'll happen.  Within a week of attending the event - you'll have got back into reactive work mode.  You may have managed to change a couple of things.  Within a month, the chances are, you'll have slipped back into your old habits because when we're busy, that's what we naturally do.  You haven't had enough time to make new habits stick and change a pattern of behaviour.

Get the most out of the events you attend - review the changes you want to make and the progress you've made.

Remember little and often and take small steps.  Don't try to do everything all at once or make big changes you won't be able to stick to.

If you'd like to create new habits, make real and lasting changes and have a review process that works to keep you on track, get in touch.
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The Importance of Planning For Students

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I was talking to a client the other day and they mentioned the lack of fore-thought young people have these days.

They're so used to making instant arrangements and leaving things to the last minute that they struggle when they have to think more than a few days ahead.  Or they've been used to having someone else around them who will do everything for them.

When you set out into the world of work or even if you've decided to start up and run your own business, you may not have ever thought about how you go about planning your life or what you'll actually need to do to survive.

After all if you've been brought up in the age of social media, instant success and gratification, as seen on X-Factor, Britain's Got Talent etc. you may think these things just happen and success is easy.

Success comes with hard work and long-term commitment.  Very few people get instant success and for many of those who achieve fame and fortune, they've come to it by putting in the hours and working hard at their craft to achieve their success.

You need to think about what you want - before it happens, so that you can plan for it.  Where do you want your career to take you?  What do you need to do in order to get that first step on the career ladder - work hard at school ... achieve good results ... go on to college or university ... gain work experience ... have a successful career/business.

It's a case of putting in the effort to reap the results at a later date.

On a short-term basis, you need to think about what's coming up this week, this month, this year.  It's no good realising you need something for work the evening before or even the same morning.  You need to start to think for yourself and think ahead.  How will you get from A to B - even if that's just catching the bus or train to work?  What do you need that's going to get you there - know what train you're going to get, leave on time, allow time to get a ticket?

You don't get taught time management at school, so start developing good time habits now.  These will stand you in good stead - whether you've got a career in industry mapped out or you're planning to take over the world with your own business or you haven't yet decided what you're going to do.

Register for: Take Control of Your Time - six weeks of tips, strategies and resources to get you started and on track or get yourself a copy of Time Management For Dummies.
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Planning For Strategic Thinking

example of using a mindmap in a strategic thin...
An article on strategic thinking appeared recently in the Financial Times with a few quotes from yours truly.  I thought I'd expand on the theme, as it's something I come across quite often when coaching businesses.

When you get stuck in the day-to-day running of work or your own business, it's difficult to find the time or allow yourself to find the time to think more strategically.  After all, you don't have enough time as it is.

However, it's important that you do take a step back every now and then to look at what you're doing and where you're going.  To get things back in perspective and look at the bigger picture - both at work and at home.

You can do this by actually planning your strategic thinking time.  Take time out once a month or every few months to just get away from your day-to-day business and think about your business strategy.  In the same way that you review your goals on a regular basis, this is an important part of business.

Book a meeting space away from the office environment, so you don't get distracted by email and the phone.  Switch off your mobile for the duration.  It only needs to be a couple of hours, half a day or even a full day if you want to go away with your management team.  It's sometimes helpful to work with a facilitator, coach or mentor for new ways of thinking and working or for an unbiased view.

On a smaller scale, you can take that step back each week - or when you need to.  Especially if you're feeling particularly overwhelmed, it helps if you can get a fresh perspective or look at the bigger picture every now and then instead of getting bogged down in the detail all the time.

Take time out - going for a walk/run is a great way to refresh your mind and take your mind off the immediate problem - which is then often free to come up with a solution when you're not focusing so hard on the problem.

Putting things in perspective also allows you to see the wood for the trees - you may also realise that some of the things you're worrying about or spending time on are not as important as others and once you see the bigger picture you can see where these things fit in ... or not.
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Step Away From The Smartphone

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Yes, they're a great tool but they can end up controlling our lives.

I was reading a series of tweets last week about people who are woken from their slumber by their Blackberry, which then downloads emails and social media and before they've even got up, they're immediately online and working.

It's not unusual - I've had similar discussions with a few people who take their smartphones to bed with them.  What their partners think of this I can only imagine - unless they're both sitting there with their phones.

Part of the reasoning is - they use the alarm on the smartphone to wake them up.  Simple solution - get an alarm clock.   Leave the phone downstairs.

They want to catch up on emails and social media before going to sleep or first thing in the morning.  No, the bedroom is for sleeping in.  Keep technology out of the bedroom and switch if off at least an hour before going to bed.

Manage your time, so you get your emails and social media activity done at an appropriate time.

 (Photo credit: jagelado)
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When To Say 'No' To Business

When you're running your own business you want all the clients and customers you can get, right?

It makes sense. You're in business to make money and by selling your products and services and having plenty of clients and customers you generate income. 

Or does it. Sometimes you need to say no to new business. Not just because you're so busy you can't actually take on more business but because it's the wrong sort of business or it's not right for you. 

This might sound like completely the wrong thing to do - after all, why would you turn down business? Well, for one thing it can have a serious impact on your business. 

Let me show you what I mean: ... "

Read the full article: 'When To Say 'No' To Business' in May's newsletter - here.

Register for the free monthly newsletter and get additional tips, information and resources to help grow your business and improve your work life balance direct to your inbox once a month -

Phone Calls Made Easier

Info from the English WP http://en.wikipedia.o...

Do you avoid making phone calls?  It's surprising the number of people I speak to who dislike making phone calls, even if it's part of their job.

There's something about picking up the phone and talking to another person that can strike fear in to the heart of the most rational, competent person.

What is it about phone calls?

You don't know what to say?  Jot down a few notes - the reason for the call, a few things you'd like to say, key points to be discussed.

You'll mess up what you want to say?  Create a script - think about and practice what you want to say before you make the call.  Don't read from the script when you actually make the call but use it as a guideline or reminder.

You'll sound stupid?  It's easy to feel self-conscious if you're in an open office and you're worried about being overheard.  Chances are people are too busy with their own work to worry about what you're saying on the phone.  Find a meeting room

You'll call at an inconvenient time - you don't want to trouble them?  Check when they answer the phone - "Is this a good time to talk, do you have five minutes?"  Respect their time.  If it's not convenient, arrange a time to call them.  Yes, you may catch them when they're busy or when they're just on their way out but always ask if they're OK to talk.

You're afraid of rejection?  If you're calling prospective clients or hoping to make establish a new contact, don't stress about it.  See it as one step in the process to finding the 'right' client or contact.  Sales teams expect to get one successful call out of every 100.  Look at it as getting you one step closer each time.  No doesn't necessarily mean never - perhaps it's just not right for them right now.  What's the worst they can say?

Make several calls at one time - while the first one might be awkward and feel uncomfortable, you're more likely to get into the swing of it, if you make several calls together.

Stand up, smile.  It gets you in to the right frame of mind when making the call and will show up in your voice.

If you have a difficult call to make - be clear about the facts.  Don't get defensive - state your case clearly and succinctly.  Practice with a friend or colleague so you feel more comfortable about what you want to say.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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Are You Addicted To Work?

WORKaholic 3D立體超熟睡午安書

According to researchers in Norway and the United Kingdom - they've come up with a way of measuring how addicted we are to work.

"A number of studies show that work addiction has been associated with insomnia, health problems, burnout and stress as well as creating conflict between work and family life," Andreassen says.

The boundaries have become even more blurred between work and life with technology enabling 24/7 connectivity to the office.

We're spending more time at work - whether through choice or necessity.  So, how much of a workaholic are you?

About the scale: Seven basic criteria

The Bergen Work Addiction Scale uses seven basic criteria to identify work addiction:
  • You think of how you can free up more time to work. 
  • You spend much more time working than initially intended. 
  • You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and depression. 
  • You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them. 
  • You become stressed if you are prohibited from working. 
  • You deprioritize hobbies, leisure activities, and exercise because of your work.
  • You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health. 
Andreassen's study shows scoring "often" or "always" on at least four of the seven items may suggest you're a workaholic.

If work is taking over your life and whether you think you're addicted or not, if you want to feel more in control - take the Time Audit.  You'll see where in your life you need to focus.  You'll have an idea of just how things are and how much work has an impact.

If you want a change to a more balanced way of working with less stress and conflict, get in touch.

New Instrument Measures Work Addiction: (Medical News Today)
The University of Bergen. (2012, April 25). Retrieved from

WORKaholic 3D (Photo credit: AngeloSu)
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Get Your Processes In Place

If you've started working with staff or you need to start taking people on, as your business grows - document the processes that are part of your business so you can get an understanding of what needs to be done.

This helps to clarify job responsibilities which can be useful in providing guidance in the early stages, as a new member of staff settles in.  It also gives you something to measure their progress and performance against.

This also applies when you outsource work to a third-party.  Not only does it help you understand your business better but putting it down in writing may help you to identify gaps in the process that you can tighten up on.

If you're the team leader then you can assess the skills of your team and allocate work appropriately.  A mistake many leaders make is to assume that the person they're handing over a task to, knows what's required of them.

Communication is important - you need to be clear about what you want done in order to avoid mis-understandings or wrong assumptions.  Tackle the problem upfront.  It's important to give timely feedback - both positive and constructive to avoid unwanted behaviour and bad habits developing further.

If you find yourself in the situation where you take on someone who doesn't quite have the skills you expected, you need to make them aware of their skills gap.  A clear job description outlining their roles and responsibilities will help, as well as documented processes.