Sunday, September 22, 2013

Virtual Networking vs. Real Networking

by Thomas Signorello September 22, 2013

In today’s fast paced environment, ways of working are perpetually changing - and over the last decade alone networking has seen one the largest seismic shifts of any working practice.
Virtual Networking vs Real Networking

In reality it was not long ago that the main way to network was through business meetings, annual events or via colleagues. It's not that long ago that business breakfasts and speed networking events were the new way of expanding our contact base. However, since then - and in a relatively short space of time - networking has moved up several exciting gears. The growth of networking sites has seen the success of ‘social’ sites like Facebook cross over and explode into the business world, with Linkedin and many others continuing to appear on a regular basis.

Through the advent of these, I have personally witnessed individuals heralding social networking to the point they haven’t attended a single ‘real’ networking event of any kind in the last 6 months. Surprisingly this has not been to their apparent detriment as they continue to grow their network of colleagues and clients successfuly. An interesting thought maybe?

But anyone who is a social networker will know instantly that although this genre of networking can broaden our contacts significantly, in reality managing to connect with those people on a personal level takes far more applied dedication. Similarly there are those who may still argue that personal interaction through tangible face to face meetings remains the best way to network. But taking the old adage of quality over quantity, maybe you should ask yourself: out of the numerous business cards you have collected in this way, how many contacts have you had the chance to follow up with on a regular basis? In reality, if you're not virtually networking to support these face to face meetings, you could face loosing a contract to someone who is.

Exploiting The Synergies Between Virtual and Real Networking

However, before you cancel your next breakfast meeting in favour of some digital catch up, it is important to realise the potential synergy that can be achieved by having both real and virtual networking activities working hand in hand. Therefore, we shouldn’t be sitting singularly in either camp. Moving forward we need to merge the two methods, link the old with the new and achieve the best possible growth of our networks and client bases. However, you will discover quickly that this area has uncovered a whole new depth of marketing for both your company and yourself; furthermore, as it is still in its infancy where it will lead is yet to be determined. But it's certainly worth considering the following points:
• Ensure you have a social networking page for either yourself or your company.
• Set aside regular times to update this, connect with your contacts and arrange real face to face meetings on the back of this virtual connection.
• Your social networking page is a first impression of you and your company, so ensuring this looks professional and contains all the relevant information is essential. Similarly your business cards need to convey your presence on any networking sites. Stand out from the crowd, use the new technology and media available - barcodes on business cards to take contacts straight to your networking page - if it's a talking point, use it.
• Be careful to use the right tone and wording. As humans, we have spent thousands of years evolving and honing our skill to pick up on facial expressions and body language in order to gauge a person's emotions. This is not possible through digital communications, so extra care should be deployed when communicating in this way.
• Finally, employing the services of a professional to produce regular articles to post on your networking site is a growing trend. This can ensure you have good quality relevant articles to post - leaving you free to focus on running your business whilst keeping your virtual presence maintained.

About the Author - Vivienne Ollis

After completing an MBA in Coporate Strategy Vivienne was offered the opportunity to write a one off article on corporate marketing. From the sucess of this Vivienne now works on a permanent basis as a freelance copywriter, specialising in digital marketing content. If you would like to contact Vivienne for any requirements please contact her through either Twitter or Linkedin.

Twitter: @vivienneollis

Image Source: ganderssen1

Sunday, September 8, 2013

8 ways to take your Elevator pitch to a higher level

Whether you're at a networking event, job interview or even in the grocery store, having a solid elevator pitch at the ready can mean the difference between an opportunity snagged or squandered.

"A well-crafted elevator pitch will give you the best possible shot of giving a good first impression. If you look at the things at the top of most employers' lists of the characteristics of a good employee -- organized, self-starter, good communication skills, etc. -- you can see that an effective elevator pitch will help establish that you are someone who is all of those things," says Chris O'Leary, author of Elevator Pitch Essentials. Here's how to take yours up a notch:

Do a thorough self-review

An elevator pitch is a form of marketing, and you need to know the product -- you -- well. "If you haven't taken the time and effort to truly understand your strengths and what differentiates you from others, your personal brand won't be as easy to communicate and won't stand out to others in your networking," says branding expert Chris Perry, MBA, founder of Career Rocketeer.

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The easiest elevator pitch to deliver

Hone it into 3 parts

Editing your story into three parts can simplify a complicated pitch. Consultant Bill Faust outlines these in his book, Pitch Yourself. First, there is the set up. "Create buy-in with something of interest about you that reflects their needs," says Faust. Second, show the evidence from your experience that you can meet their needs. And third, give them confirmation of your ability to meet those demands, with hard facts to prove it.

Avoid cheese

Elevator pitches should be engaging, but they shouldn't be a gimmick -- remember, this is more of a conversation starter than a used car sales pitch. "The ones that in my mind do not work are when people stand up and say 'I'm Jonathan Smith and I help people reach their dreams,'" says Paula Asinof, author of BE SHARP: "Tell Me About Yourself" in Great Introductions and Professional Bios. Be engaging, and let your message stand for itself.

Memorize and customize it

Once you have your basic pitch, you want to memorize it in order to be able to customize it on the fly, depending on who you're talking to and what the goal of the conversation might be. "You want to memorize your elevator pitch so you look organized, but also so that you can watch the listener and pick up any clues about how your elevator pitch is going over," says O'Leary. That way, if you're losing your audience you can take a different approach, or cut it short and bring the focus back to them.

 Ask yourself "so what?"

"Ask yourself that question at least three times during your elevator pitch. That question will help you to focus on making your solution meaningful to the listener," says Chris Westfall.

 Keep it tight

Leave your audience wanting more. "That doesn't mean it's always short, because in truth it depends. Instead, a great elevator pitch is like an accordion; it can be lengthened or shortened to fit in a time window of between 15 seconds and 2 minutes," says O'Leary. But you can only do that if you know your basic pitch inside and out, and can customize it without breaking the conversation.

 Don't be afraid to brag

Listen up, ladies: "One common problem that women have is that they think that talking about results is bragging, and they have been taught that bragging is bad. As a result, their elevator pitches aren't as compelling as they could be. That fact is that it's not bragging if it's true and if it's relevant to the job you are trying to do," says O'Leary.

Stop talking

Once you have made your point, shut your mouth and open your ears. "While it can be challenging to do, your silence will prompt the other person to respond and/or ask deeper questions. This will spark conversation that may lead to a stronger relationship and/or even a new business or career opportunity," says Perry. In other words, let your efforts do their intended work.

Thomas Signorello is a Professional Networker and Relationship Building Coach/Mentor. He has grown a tremendous business by teaching people the Art of making others feel special and taking relationships made in person and via the Internet, Offline. To learn more about Thomas and how he helps people achieve more abundance in their lives, visit his website by clicking HERE.