Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What I Learned About Sales from the Window Guy

Springtime in New England means it is time to plan and execute on some household projects and like every year as a homeowner I have my list.

On top of that list, I wanted to replace a few windows in our family room since it was time and we have been on an energy saving kick.   We finally scored a contractor that will be doing our job next week but it was pretty painful getting there.

The first vendor was introduced to me at a local home show.   It is a reputable company with high quality windows.  The sales person came to my house and was a nice guy and he knew exactly what I wanted,  vinyl sliders with double pane glass to keep the weather at bay.   He did not question me and went ahead and measured my window frames and gave me a rough estimate of cost.   As you should always do, I asked for a written estimate to be sent to my email and the guy said "No Problem, you will get that in a day or so".   A few days went by, then a week, so I called the company using the number the guy gave me and they said that I need to call the guy on his cell phone directly to get a status on my quote, so I did.  I left a message and asked for a response.    I did not receive a response or follow-up to my call and email, so I called the company again to check the status of my quote.  Again, they apologize and said that I need to contact the guy that came to my house for the quote.  At this time, I was like F*** this, I am going with another company.

Lesson #1 - In sales or in any customer focused business, especially a home improvement business, follow-up is essential.  In the world of social media and with so much competition, if you don't follow-up with prospects, you will get a bad rap and people will know about it very quickly.

So I looked through the list of vendors from the Home Show I attended and found another reputable company from Rhode Island that specialized in Custom Built Windows.   I called them to make an appointment to get a quote on vinyl sliders with double pane and they had a tech free on the following Saturday.  Great, we are moving now!   Leading up to that Saturday appointment, I must have gotten 6 calls from different people asking me to confirm my appointment.   I repeatedly mentioned that it is all set and did you talk to the other person that called me?

Lesson #2 - Communicate with your sales team and make sure you are all on the same page.  Nothing is worst than an impression from your customer that your team is scattered and unorganized.

We are still on the same Custom Built Windows vendor from Rhode Island.  So Saturday is here and the guy came right on time for our appointment.  He was well dressed, as if he sold insurance on the side and came to the door with his official PowerPoint presentation and questionnaire.   It was a warm day for April so he can see that he was sweating either due to the weather or nerves.   So I mentioned to him that I had about 20-30 minutes and if he can proceed with getting the window measurements and then provide me a written quote.  He did the measurements and then asked if he can go over the quote with me right there and then.   I was like, cool, we are getting somewhere.   He then proceeded to go through a 40 page presentation on the history of windows and the differences between shutters, wood windows, double pane vs triple pane and why his company is the best company in the business.  The presentation went on for 90 minutes until I cut him short and said, can I have my f**** quote?   He ended up going through all of these numbers as if he was writing up a mortgage, and finally came up with a quote that was astronomically high for vinyl sliders.  I was thinking gee are we paying for his time running through that 90 minute presentation?   I was agitated and asked him to leave since my wife and I were already late for an appointment.   He then feverishly mentioned that "one day sale" if I bought today, he will slash the cost by 40%.   I did not care and asked him to leave.  This was a disaster.

Lesson #3- Where do I start?  First, listen to your customer.  Second, customize your response to what your customer is asking for.  Third, be conscious of your customer's time.  This was probably the same presentation for customers that wanted shutters, sliders or a new roof.   Listen to your customer!

This was not the end of Vendor #2.  For next few weeks, they kept calling me and not leaving messages and until one day I picked up the phone and said to not call me anymore.  They said sure, then guess what, a couple of days later, another person called me from the same company.   I will end this with, see Lesson #2.

Finally, I vented my frustration on a local blog and well-known contractor gave me a call and asked if he can help.   At this point, I was like sure.  A third time is a charm, right?   This guy was very personable and asked what I needed and that he will take care of it.  Long story short, my windows are getting replaced next Monday.

Lesson #4:  Your customers are human, not dollar signs.  Be personable and get to know them and build their trust.   You do that and you will take your business to the next level.

Sales is a tough business.  I understand that being in business myself, but it is art.   The art of listening, being personable and having a great supporting team.  Spend the time achieving those skills and you will be a success!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

How Alumni Networking Changed My Lifetime Goals

My professional life started off like most college graduates.  I started my career after college with a great job at a local insurance company in IT. My career and social life revolved around my job. I really had no outside interests that would support any goals besides what I received from my boss at my annual performance appraisal. Outside of work, my evenings would consist of either going out with friends from work or watching TV, but there was not much to fulfill and inspire me to change my life.

Fast forward to 2007, I was getting the sense my longest tenure at a professional company, a large retailer, was coming to an end. There was low morale and a lot of negativity. I did not feel as negative as my colleagues, but I was getting consumed by my surroundings and I started to think that there needed to be something different out there.

Then one day, I received an email from my alma mater Northeastern University about a Boston Alumni Networking Event at the Alumni Center.   I was thinking, networking?  Is this an IT thing working with switches and routers?   Yes, I was that out of touch with the outside world.

The day of the networking event was one of my worst days at the large retailer corporate job.  There was a round of layoffs and the tension was high.   I stayed in my office with my door shut thinking about how I can get out of the place.   Even though I was a shy introvert, I thought to myself, I need to go to this networking event.

So that evening, I went to Northeastern University for the first time in a long time and arrived at the event.   I looked around and noticed all of the well-dressed happy personable professionals and thought I was on a different planet.   Why was everyone so friendly and wanting to help me?  This is not Corporate America.  I am scared, so I pretended to go to the rest room a few times.

My first networking event ended up being a great experience.  I met some fellow Huskies and was intrigued about the next event where they were going to have a speaker about starting your own business and being an entrepreneur.   I felt a new affiliation with my alma mater and was looking forward to the next event.

For the second event, I saw some of the same professionals I met at the first event and had some amazing conversations about careers and business.  When the speaker went up to give his presentation, I noticed that I felt happy and was lock step listening to what he had to say.   One thing that stood out was the option to start a business while still working a corporate job. 

Later that evening, I ended up meeting a fellow Husky, Sue, who introduced me to her health/wellness business and I mentioned how I would love doing the same.    What? Little old me running my own business?   I was sensing that my lifetime goals were starting to change on that warm April evening in 2008.  So I went for it and started my own business.

The networking bug started to catch on.   I started looking into events all over Boston and even Providence, my hometown.   I got myself some business cards with my new side-business company name, AIMC Websites, and started to meet professionals.   I did not have a Linkedin Account before I started networking, but after only one year I achieved the milestone of 500 connections.

With networking, I also noticed my former introverted self was becoming an extroverted connector.   I was no longer shy and would go up to people, introduce myself, and I would always ask what brought them to the event and asked them about their business and what they liked the most about networking.  Meanwhile, even with a new corporate job, my "side-business" started to grow and I was enjoying the extra income.

After a few years, and going to hundreds of events, I cracked 2500 connections on Linkedin.   I learned the art of going to an event, connecting to professionals, following up and helping each other out.   I was thinking, "why not start my own networking group"?

My side business AIMC Websites was now called AIMC Business Solutions and I was providing social media services and website solutions for my clients.   I was getting pretty good at the social media thing too alongside my networking skills so why not promote my own networking events?

On January 16, 2013, Mass Professional Networking was born at Uno's Bar in Framingham, MA.   I use social media to promote the event and over 100 professionals attended.  I was psyched!   I starting doing monthly events in the Metrowest area outside of Boston but then eventually gravitated to downtown Boston to run monthly events starting in 2014.   I was still going to other events, including the Northeastern Alumni Networking Events.  I was the connector and the entrepreneur, which I loved.   

Networking has changed my outlook on life. It got me out of my shell and has introduced me to positive entrepreneurial professionals that has led me to believe that I can do anything. I am working to achieve financial independence by 2023 by growing the revenue of my businesses to a point that I will no longer need to work in corporate America. If I did not attend that first Northeastern Alumni Networking Event back in 2007, I do not think I would be running my own networking group with over 2000 members and I doubt that I would be talking about early retirement from corporate America.

I recommend that you get more involved with your alma mater and if they have a networking or social event, attend it and see what happens. It could change your lifetime goals like it changed mine.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Spring is a New Beginning to Get Into Better Health - Some Tips

Just like New Years, the Spring Season is always looked at as a time for new beginnings.  The last of the cold snowy weather is in the rear view and the days, especially the evenings are nice and bright.

When it comes to your health, you should always be consistent every day to ensure you maintain a great balance of exercise, diet, mindset and of course take a great supplement.   You need to work all sectors of health in tandem to ensure great health.    The old saying, you can eat an amazing healthy diet but it doesn't mean much if you are a couch potato.   On the contrary, you can be a gym rat, but if you indulge in fried food, it would be exactly a pinnacle of great health.   Finally, your attitude toward life and how positive you are is the cherry on the sundae.   OK, maybe the cherry on a nutrition bar.

As mentioned, your health maintenance is broken down into your fitness activities, diet, mindset and supplements.  What I like to do is offer some tips for each that are very basic.

Fitness - 
I can just simply say join your local gym and hire a trainer to put you through hell at the gym.  Instead, I like offer some easy exercises you can do in place of going to the gym if you have a busy productive lifestyle.

  • If you work in the office, take the stairs whenever possible and get up and walk around. or at a minimum stretch, every 15-20 minutes, so you maintain great blood flow and digestion of any food you eat.    Sitting in your office for hours on end is worse than smoking a pack of cigarettes.
  • Always take a walk after eating, breakfast, lunch and dinner.   By walking, you will be able to easily digest your food and burn off any unhealthy calories.   Do not do any strenuous exercise right after eating.
  • If you don't go to a gym, pick up a pair of dumbbell weights and do about 10-15 minutes of exercise daily.   Here is a great video on a full body workout using a pair of dumbbells.
Diet -
I wanted to first mention that when you mention that you are on a diet, it does not mean you are working to lose weight.   You can always be on a bad diet full of fried foods and bad carbs.

  • Water is the single most important beverage in your diet.  Water helps you digest, provides energy and even helps you maintain a great weight.   Your body is 60% water, so simply if you are thirsty, drink water.
  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and lunch is the second most important.   I know this sounds backward, but think about it, when are you the most active during the day.  The worst thing to do is have a huge dinner then relax.   There are basic like avoiding sugar, especially white sugar, too much dairy and processed foods, but if you eat small portions and exercise regularly, it is OK to treat yourself once in a while.
  • Never ever skip a meal.  Any weight loss program that recommends to skip a meal, or drink this shake or even wear this wrap around your waist, is not a worthy weight loss program.  The key to maintaining a great lifestyle is eating small nutritious meals.

Positive Mindset - 
It is how you feel about yourself and your life that will determine how focused you are on your fitness and diet.    Always visualize yourself at your goal, looking and feeling great.   There will be tough days but always know there are great days to look forward too.

  • Avoid negative people.   I know you hear this a million times, but really, what does a complainer do for you?  Nothing.   Hang out with people better than you.
  • Find the root cause of your health issues.  Is it stress?  If so, find ways to relieve your stress.   if needed, contact a professional to help you especially if stress is effecting your weight and your well-being.
  • There will be traffic, there will be issues at your home, or you may lose your job.   Everyone has bad days, but the difference is, is how they handle adversity.  A positive mindset, great diet and exercise will help you get through those rough stretches.

Supplements -
Yes, supplements.   Face it, our food is not as healthy as it was 30 or 40 years ago,  We are always in a rush and the supermarkets are full of canned goods and processed cereal that is not very good for you.   Walk around the supermarket and look at labels.  I bet 70-80% of food you buy either has sugar,salt or pesticides on them.   Do you really think that apple in the fruit stand has no chemicals on it?  Think again.   This is why supplements are more important than ever.

  • Make sure your vitamins are liquid based and are biodegradable so you are able to absorb the nutrients within five minutes.   A pill will need to be digested and broken down in your stomach.  Your stomach breaks down food and anything else you eat, so why not take a supplement that goes to your small intestine and absorb the nutrients instantly?
  • Be leery of any sugar snack such as cereal, pop tarts or even soda that claim that have extra vitamins and minerals.   Think about it, sugar is evil so why eat or drink something that claims it is healthy for you and it has a lot of sugar in it?
  • Milk does not do a body good.   This may fall under diet, but I wanted to make something clear.  The calcium in milk is not the pure calcium that your body needs to maintain good bone health.  The supplement needs to also have magnesium in it to absorb the calcium.   Does milk have real magnesium in it?  I think not.
So hopefully our blog provided you some simple steps toward great health.  Spring is all about new beginnings so why not start today on your healthy journey!

Introducing the NAMI Walk Boston 2018

Monday, April 2, 2018

I am at a Networking Event, so How Do I Start a Conversation?

So you made an executive decision and decided to start going to business networking events, since that is what everyone is recommending for you to get ahead in your career and in business.  So you check the latest Meetups and Eventbrite listings and start scheduling some dates to get out there and meet some successful professionals and start building up that old Rolodex of contacts.

OK, you got through step one, but now when you get to the event, what do you do next?

I always like to start slow at an event and observe my surroundings, maybe get a drink and look for the extroverts and even if I know anyone, just to break the ice.   The next step when you introduce yourself to the first person you met, what do you ask.   Honestly, everyone dreads that ol' question, "So What Do You Do?".   The recipient may also dread that question, since it may open the door to a long winded answer, you know, the one that can go on and on until you are begging and pleading for your phone to ring or the fire alarm to go off to break free.

I have been networking for quite a few years now and I do not like asking someone simply what they do.   It is like opening the door to, why don't you give me that paper resume in your hand or just talk about your life story for the next three hours.

Here are some questions I like to ask in no particular order.   Hopefully, they can help you engage in more meaningful conversation at your next business networking event.

- What is your biggest professional accomplishment and how did you achieve it?

- Who is your favorite business mentor, whether it is a colleague or a celebrity?

- What is your favorite business book, show or podcast?

- What is your biggest challenge in business?

- Who is your perfect client and who can I introduce you to, that will help your business?

- What is your top marketing and networking strategy?  What social media platform do you use the most to market your business?

- What is your favorite business networking group?  Hint Hint, Mass Professional Networking!

- What other talents do you have?  For example, do you play a musical instrument?

- What is your recommended follow-up strategy after you meet someone at an event and in what setting?  Phone call or over a coffee/ drink?

There are many other questions you can ask to engage in conversation, but chances are is if you pick four or five of the above questions, you are well on your way to a very engaging conversation and the start of a great business relationship.   You are probably wondering how you can remember all of the answers to your question.  What I recommend is to write some key words on the person's business card or take notes on a small pad, so it is easier to follow-up.

So now you know how to look for events and know how to break the ice at an event, so go ahead and start networking.  It is the one and only way to get ahead in this fast paced digital world.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Business Networking is About Relationships and Not Transactions

I have been networking for over ten years now and have run my own group for the past five years, however even with my experience, I feel like I am always in learning mode when it comes to the right way to network at business events.    Going to a business networking event can be awkward especially if you are not a natural extrovert or have been through vigorous sales training where they teach you how to talk to people.

Business Networking is a profession and the correct way to network is a skill that you develop over time.   The correct way to look at networking is that is it one of ways that you can help build your personal brand and expand your career or business opportunities.   It is important to have a plan and make the most of the time that you spend at events.   After all, you need time for follow-ups and client work, right?

There is of course the wrong approach to networking and the correct approach.

Here is an example of what not to do.   I will use a recent experience I had with a fellow networker.

I was at an event in Boston and briefly met a young professional who appeared nervous and was giving out his business cards faster than a blackjack dealer at the casino, hoping he can close some deals that night and report back to his boss the next day.    I received a Linkedin connection request from him at 11:55pm that night.    Of course, I was still up doing work and connected to him right away.   At the stroke of midnight, I received a length follow-up message from him explaining to me everything about his company and asking me for a meeting so I can buy his service right away.    His service?  Digital Marketing.  What is my business?  Digital Marketing.    How about, it was nice to meet you Jeff and I enjoyed learning about you and your goals.   You can see dollar signs in his message and no personal references whatsoever.

If you go to business networking events with the sole purpose of closing deals, it is not going to work, plain and simple.    Savvy networkers can sense this a mile away.   It is like a bad cold call.

Instead of the "all about me" approach, when you meet someone at an event or even on social media, build a personal relationship first.   Ask how they are doing?  What brings them to the event that night?  What are YOUR goals?    This will immediately build trust and make the person think, you genuinely care.   At some point, they might even be the one to follow-up and ask to meet for coffee before you even mention to them what you do.   

When you build a professional relationship with someone, over time, the transaction (i.e. the potential to do business) is easier and less forced.  You would feel more comfortable asking for the sale and in return you help them with their business.

I will close with some quick tips to complement what I mentioned earlier:

  • Only talk to between 4-6 people at a networking event.   Don't be a mayor and shake everyone's hand at the event.    You want people to remember you for good reasons.
  • Do not, I repeat DO NOT send a Linkedin request to someone and then immediately send a sales pitch.   Instead, simply say Hi and How you can help without mentioning what you do.
  • Go to a networking event with a plan.  Your plan can be to make between 4-6 new friends that evening and that is it.  Your plan can be to simply help 3 people tonight with their business.
  • Become the one people gravitate to, not run away from.  If you are a magnet, the business will come with less effort.
  • Understand second level networking.    That person that you build a great personal relationship may know someone that can be an ideal client for you.  Powerful stuff!

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 Are 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!

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