Sunday, March 4, 2018

How does business networking and relationship building compare in 1985 to 2018?

Even though, my family has had its fair share of sales professionals and entrepreneurs over time, it is interesting that I originally took the route of a Corporate Information Technology career after I graduated college.  I eventually "smarten up" and have since ventured into business ownership and am proud to have carried the torch held by my entrepreneurial family.

One grandfather was an insurance salesman and my dad was a food salesman.  My other grandfather was part owner of a jewelry company in the what was the at one time the Jewelry Capital of the World, Providence, RI.   I also had cousins that owned businesses and others that simply did not take the typical route through Corporate America.   Entrepreneurship was alive and well back in 1985 but it was how you built your business that was different than today.

I remembered growing up in the 1980s and how both my dad and grandfather had a gift of gab and the ability to relate to all types of people.  My Dad was a food salesman, so he frequently the many restaurants in Rhode Island and it seems every time we went somewhere, he would engage in multiple conversations with just about anyone that was within three feet of him.  He was the ultimate extrovert.  He demonstrated networking before there was networking.   Back in 1985, there was no such thing as social media or formal business networking.  I think BNI was around, but that was about it.    When you were in sales, you had to really hustle like my Dad did or go door-to-door selling insurance like my grandfather did.

The difference today is that we have so many tools available from social media and email campaigns that even the introvert can venture into sales.  Imagine what my dad or grandfather could have done with a smartphone?

So how does 1985 compare to 2018 when it comes to business networking?

In 1985,  door-to-door sales and cold calling were king.  The local newspaper was your main method of mass advertising and your networking event was your local church group or soccer field.   I think it was a better time to network since there were no smartphones and people actually had to get out of their shell and talk to people.   Another networking scene that was pretty prevalent back in 1985 was your local pub or restaurant.   Case in point with my dad, he closed a lot of his deals over a scotch and made more of his connections meeting people that led to more people that would match anyone today with tools available.   In 1985, there was no Facebook, Twitter or texting.   You had to pick up a phone with a cord and call people.  Relationship building was easier since you really got to know someone and understood their reaction right away.  Today, you can never know the tone from an email or a text message.   Thinking back to 1985, the world was more social and interactive.  Relationship building was happening in places that today would not be thought of.    You mean, I need to pick up a phone?

Fast forward to today, you have everything I mentioned that we had in 1985, plus social media and formal business networking.   So why does it seem things are harder today?   Yes, there is relationship building like back in 1985, but it is now normally done through a screen.  The cold call simply does not work and the pub scene is not like it was in 1985.  The soccer field is a big click.  The culprit seems to be that damn smart phone.  Go to any bar or sports event today, what do you see?   Everyone's hand is glued to some device.  Relationship building is harder despite the many options to meet people and potential business prospects but because of all the technology, everyone seems to be introverted and simply afraid to pick up the phone, go door-to-door or go to a business event.

So in summary, the difference between 1985 and 2018 is simple.    1985 was all about personal interaction and instant reaction.  Networking was not know as networking.  It was socializing.    2018 was all about using technology to cover up the fear of interaction and people's reaction to your inquiry.   There are a lot more business networking events today, but it is forced.   You can tell by all of the elevator pitches you hear at an event and LinkedIn requests you get after the event.  One way communication, no interaction and immediate reaction.   Now does LinkedIn help you pick up the phone and call someone?   Not really.     Sometimes, I think, take me back to 1985.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

You Have Only One Life - So What You Going to Do About "The Dash"

A little over two weeks ago,  I attended the MA World Conference in Miami like I do every February.  It is a time of learning, positive energy and of course that warm Florida sunshine.  Every year there is that little nugget that sticks with me after the event and this year it was no different.

My nugget this year was during Market America CEO, JR Ridinger's epic closing presentation.   During one part of his presentation, he had a few tombstones scattered in one section of the stage, with the name "Joe Nobody" on it.    A first glance at this, and you though, what the heck is this all about?   As JR's presentation went along, it had a deeper meaning that you could imagine.

JR was making a point that you only have one life and it is detailed on your tombstone.   You have your name, your birth date, your death date, and "The Dash" in the middle.   JR stressed that you have complete control of what you do during the dash. like being a Joe Somebody, including building your own legacy after your life is complete.    JR also made it clear to the 25,000 entrepreneurs in the audience is that you have one dash, unlike a cat with nine lives.

There are different ways you can view "The Dash"
- How you take care of your health and well being
- How you take care of your own financial well being
- How you related to people including your family and friends

First, your health.

We all have bad habits, including eating the wrong foods, not exercising or not getting enough sleep.   Every time we do something not good for our body, we are shortening the dash on our tombstone.   You always hear if you have a diet of sugar, smoke or you don't exercise, chances are you will have a life-shorting disease.   So why do people do that?   Do they feel invincible or are they lazy?    Most of the time it is lack of focus and not realizing that they are only shortening their dash.    When someone reaches middle age, if they change their lifestyle to be focused on a healthy diet, exercising and avoiding drama and stress, they will in fact extend their dash and build their own legacy.

How about your financial well-being?

For those who know me, in addition to my IT career, I got a few side hustles going on and invest on a regular basis so I will never have to suffer from the "45-year plan".   So what is the "45-year plan"?   It is you go to college, get in a lot of debt, then work at some company or multiple companies over the course of 45 years and then hope you got a little retirement saved up to continue your life as it should.    Unfortunately, that is not the case anymore.   You need to treat your career as if you are the CEO of yourself.  I recommend having a few side hustles to ensure your own financial well-being, especially if you live a healthy life and extend your dash.   If you don't think about yourself,  other people make the decision for you and who knows what that can lead to.  Believe me, living check to check or not living the life you want sucks.   So next time someone is offering to help you or has an opportunity to share, listen, since you never know what it will lead to, including extending your dash.

Finally, the most important of all, how you related to people.

We all live one life and being miserable, self-centered and generally negative, will definitely shorten the dash.   Why, since stress is known to cause health problems and even financial problems.   You see it a lot on social media today, especially Facebook.    A political post here, another controversial post there and everyone is up in arms if there is disagreement.   Avoid the drama and think of the good in people, be happy and positive and you will not be stressed and will enjoy your dash.    I get a kick out of people that complain about where they live.   If you don't like where you live, move!   Or, they complain about a negative person they see at a coffee shop they go to.  Go to a different coffee shop!  At the end of the day, it is all about who you hang with so, stick with people that are positive and are enjoying their dash and you will enjoy your dash too!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Diverse & Successful Network is Your Best Career Insurance

Did you know there is such a thing as Career Insurance?  We are all used to Car Insurance, Home Insurance, Boat Insurance and Business Insurance.   However, when you are a planner and investing in your career, it is almost like your investment is like paying a premium toward your Career Insurance.

Being proactive and not waiting until you are in job search mode to connect with people is obviously the best path toward maintaining your career success.   

Of course, so many of us get caught up in doing our jobs that we neglect our network... until we need them. Problem is, if you haven't been actively networking, you cannot expect too much from them when you suddenly need help.

A recommended suggestion when at an event is a gentle breaking of the ice to begin reconnecting, rather than leading with "Hey there! I'm in job search. Can you help me out?" What we suggest is sending them an article and saying something like, "Hi there! I saw this article. Made me think of our days at Example Company. Thought you might be interested. Would love the opportunity to catch up." Another idea is to see what groups they belong to and send a note saying, "I see you're a member of Example Group. I'm interested in joining. What can you tell me about them and their membership? What's been your experience as a member of the group?"

No matter how you do it, if you've let a connection become dormant, you need to find ways to revive it before you start asking for help. While you're reviving a connection you need, you may want to consider reviving connections you don't currently need. Send them a link to an article you find relevant to them; comment on something they’ve posted; ask them about a group; give them a call; take them for coffee; find something you can offer to help them with. 

Successful networkers are always looking for reasons to connect with their network so that their network is active and healthy.

If we create networks with the sole intention of getting something, we won't succeed. 

We can't pursue the benefits of networks; the benefits ensue from investments in meaningful activities and relationships. So invest in your network in a planned, ongoing manner.

We suggest scheduling one hour a week to reach out to people in your network to share articles, comment on posts, offer help, and connect people with others in your network you think they'd be better off knowing. 

If you don't schedule it, you won't end up doing it, and you'll end up with a neglected network that isn't helping you and won't be much use to you when you need it. 

Invest in yourself. Consider it career insurance. You have life insurance. You have car insurance. You have homeowner's insurance. You have medical insurance. You should have career insurance. 

Career insurance is a healthy network. Pay your premiums in the form of reaching out to your network one hour per week. Pay those premiums now and you’ll be able to make withdrawals down the road when you need to.

Go to your calendar out right now and set a recurring weekly one-hour meeting titled "Build a Healthy Network." Go ahead, your career will thank you for it!

Monday, January 8, 2018

How Video Can Help You Beat Your Fear of Public Speaking

When it comes to what people's biggest fear, what are the first things that come to mind?

Going to the dentist?
Dealing with your ex after a breakup?
Going through tunnels in a big city?

How about public speaking?  25% of Americans say public speaking is their biggest fear.

Imagine if your boss or business partner pulls you into their office and asks you to present a key topic that in front of hundreds of people or on a smaller scale, you have to give a speech at a wedding in front of a bunch of intoxicated guests.   The first thing you want to do is hide under the nearing table.

Public speaking is one of the most fearful things anyone can do.   They stutter, say "Um" or sometimes pass out in mid-sentence.   It is much easier to be in the audience versus being the focus of the audience.

I personally had a fear of public speaking.  I remember getting in front of a room to present an IT project at a large retailer and proceeded to sweat so much, I had to put my dress shirt in a dryer to dry it out.   My speech was full of those "Um's" and "Ahh's" and the famous "You know" after every other word.

I ended up taking a Toastmasters class back in 2008, which really helped me beat the fear of speaking in front of others.  Case in point are some of my videos on my YouTube Channel where I had to get in front of people to talk about business networking and social media.

However,  there is a more immediate way to help beat the fear of public speaking instead of Toastmasters, and it happens to be that little device in your pocket.    It is the video camera on your smartphone.   I do recommend checking out Toastmasters at a later time.

Ok, I am going to cut to the chase.   My suggestion to you if you hate public speaking is to use your smartphone and video record yourself taking about your favorite topic and then work your way up to a topic that you may have to speak about in a public forum.   The old saying is practice makes perfect, so why not use something that is free, easy and personal to practice talking to people?

There are also all sorts of live video applications out there that you can practice doing live videos.   I look at live videos on social media as the next step after you practice doing videos on the Camera app on your smartphone.   By doing live videos on Facebook Live, Periscope or Instagram, you can ask your connections to critique your video and if there are any suggestions to improve your speech.   After all, your social media connections are your friends, right?

Start doing videos on a regular basis on your favorite topics such as sports, the weather, owning a business and other topics, and then over time you will notice your confidence increasing, especially if you start getting those social media likes for your recent live video.   Ask for feedback and note how much engagement there is after posting your video.

Ok, finally, you are asked to speak in a public forum.    So what really is the difference?   If you like the topic you are talking about, and if you look at your audience through the screen of your smartphone and think the audience are there to support you, then go for it and have confidence that you will rock it and woo your audience with great insight!  It gets easier more and more.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

It is Holiday Time - Some Tips to Beat Stress and Stay Healthy and Feel Awesome

It is the most merriest time of the year. 

A time for spiked egg nog  
Online Shopping
Sitting in Traffic
Scraping ice off your windshield
Dusting off the snow shovel 
and office holiday potlucks.

Whew!  That is a lot, no wonder people are stressed this time of year!

It is no secret that stress is the leading cause and a lot of times the root cause of health issues in the world.

When it comes to diet and food/beverage of choice, it seems the more stressed you are, the more you reach for the most sugary snack or drink.

Bad diets are one of the leading causes, next to lack of exercise and good sleep, for most of our health issues today.   People get sick and are very reactive toward addressing health issues resorting to pharma products to solve all of their issues.   But that is a topic for another day.

So, how do you beat stress?    Some tips are fairly obvious, but some are somewhat of a surprise.  If you do them all together, you may find out stress is a thing of the past and you don't want to live in the past.

So here we go!

(1)  Exercise three or four times a week, preferably in the morning.

Talk a walk at lunch, go to the gym in the morning and set precedent for a great day.  Personally, I notice myself to be less stressed fighting epic Boston traffic in the morning on the days I work out.   There is no excuse for not exercising.  Make the time!

(2)  Eat the Right Foods and Not in Excess

The Europeans got it right.  There are no such thing as buffets there and their meals are mostly made fresh and in small portions.  The less sugar and dairy, the better.   Bread products make you depressed due to bad carbs.   Eat dark vegetables and lean meat and you will notice your digestion to be better and you will feel more energized for the day.

(3)  If you are tired,  Sleep.   Get your Beauty Rest!

After all, you are a pretty good looking person, so in order to be less stressed, if you are tired, then sleep sufficiently.  Around 7-8 hours a night is ideal.  If you have trouble sleeping, check your diet and don't eat anything one to two hours before you call it a night.

(4)  You have a Brain.   Nurture It!

Just like physical exercise, your brain needs exercise constantly by learning new things.   Read an inspirational book, or a topic that makes you happy and positive.   The most successful people in the world are always learning.   Listen to Tom Brady, the five-time Super Bowl winner, when he is talking to the media.  He mentions that he is always learning.     When you are occupied and learning, you don't have time for drama and stress.

(5) Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery, Today is the Present

You can only control the present, so don't stress about what happened yesterday.  It is not going to change things.   Live, think and experience your life now in the present and focus on things you can control.   A classic case is if your sports team lost a game.   What control did you have over your favorite team besides screaming at the top of your lungs at your TV?  Get over it and move on.

If you put all of this tips together you will notice yourself to be less stressed and will enjoy the holiday season and any season for its best.     Stress is the root cause and it is always important to solve the root cause of any issue, especially if it has to do with your health.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Why Networking During the Holiday Season is the Most Important Time of the Year w/ Nine Tips

You hear it all the time in business, once the holiday season is upon us.
Let's connect after the holidays. 
I am really busy with holiday shopping and family events.   
We are doing our finances for the year and can't do any events. 

Or finally, I need to chill out in front of a TV, since it is getting too cold to go out.

Actually, the months of November and December is the absolute best time of year to network with all of the holiday parties, events and family visits.    First, you are being proactive going into the new year, getting a head start with building your network, and you are also networking at a time where everyone is more into enjoying the time of the year and may be more inclined to talk to you versus January or February.

The following are some tips for business and social networking during the holiday season and why it is the best time.

1 - Don't be a schmuck and say Yes to those Holiday Parties and Events.

If you are trying to fill your pipeline with new people, you will have the opportunity to meet them at everything from the neighborhood holiday party to the office party as well as those special holiday business networking events.   The holiday is a great time to follow-up with connections and clients.

2 - Host your own holiday party or business networking event.

This is a great way to take initiative and reach out to your network.

3 -  Prepare the event and ask for introductions before the networking event.

Prepare for the event and know who you want to meet and don't be afraid to ask your friends and/or acquaintances for introductions.   Bring business cards and have your calendar ready to book a follow-up.

4 -  When meeting someone at an event, ask questions - DO NOT do a sales pitch!

Here are some sample questions:

  • How do you know the host/hostess of the event?
  • What has been the highlights of your year?
  • How is your family?
  • What plans do you have for the next year?
  • How was business this year?
  • What kind of clients are you looking for these days?
(Also be prepared to answer the above questions)

5 -  When meeting someone at an event, talk about something else besides business.

In building relationships, which is what networking is all about, you want to get to know people on a personal level, as well as a professional level.   It shows the human side and builds trust.   The holidays are a great time to relax and socialize and get to know people better.

6 -  Focus on other people and again DO NOT do a sales pitch and ramble on about your company.

Listen at least as much as you talk.   It is better to err on the side of listening too much rather than talking too much about yourself and your business.

7 -  Dress Professionally

Whether it is a holiday party, an office party, a business networking event or an open house, dress to impress with your best professional attire.   Ladies, this is not a dance club so no need to show off your goods!

8 -  Act Professionally

It's the holidays and the cheer is flowing, so relax and enjoy yourself.   It is fine to have a good time but keep the alcohol intake in check and act professionally at all times.

9 -  Follow-up! 

You are ahead of a lot of professionals by networking during the holiday season.    Follow-up with everyone you met this past year and wish them a Happy Holiday Season.   You will have a head start going into the new year and your business will grow!!

How does business networking and relationship building compare in 1985 to 2018?

Even though, my family has had its fair share of sales professionals and entrepreneurs over time, it is interesting that I originally took t...