Last month we asked our audience how many networking events you attend each year and over 40% of you said you only go to an average of 1 or 2, or rarely any at all. This month, we’d like to know if there are enough networking events in your region. Do you think last month’s results may have been higher if there were more networking opportunities? Let us know!
Have you ever got back from a conference, or any event, and had such a positive experience that you wanted to share your thoughts with the world? That’s exactly what happened to Jodi Goldman after getting back from a networking event, and the result was this great video packed with great tips. We’ll be shocked if you don’t feel energized after watching it.
On average, how many networking events do you attend each year?
Networking is necessary for any contractor to expand their opportunities and grow in the industry and there are often an overwhelming amount of events to choose from. Obviously nobody can make every event, but how many would you say you’re able to attend each year?
Networking is a tough skill to master and can be dreadful for anybody who isn’t well practiced in it. There are many articles out there with great tips on how to improve (including these recent Talent Development Centre posts), but is it possible to follow advice too closely? In this video, J.T. O’Donnell of Careerealism TV recounts one of her most dreadful experiences at a networking event. Take a look, feel the awkwardness, and make sure you never make the same mistake.
Networking can be an uncomfortable, daunting task for many people, but it’s also a massive boost to your career. By maintaining good relationships with a large network with people in your industry, you significantly increase your chances of finding new contracts. This video from CareerBuilder interviews managers in various hiring positions to get their tips on networking that make you successful.
Last week we discussed 6 reasons it’s a good idea to keep searching for opportunities over the holidays. Let’s dive deeper into some simple strategies you can use or activities you can do right now that will give you an advantage in the New Year and throughout 2015.
- Holiday Events
How many parties and dinners have you been to so far and how many more will you attend? How many do you actually want to attend? All of these are networking events, so take advantage by meeting new people and re-connecting with old friends. You don’t need to sell yourself or hand out copies of your resume, but it’s amazing where a simple discussion can lead.
- Send thank you notes/holiday cards
Speaking of building relationships, have you sent your holiday cards yet? If you think it’s too late, how about thank you notes to people you worked with this year? This is a simple task you can do while watching TV or traveling and can have great rewards.
- Take the time away to do research
You don’t need to be applying to jobs to get ahead, instead simply focus on planning. Research your industry, potential clients, and potential agencies. Find out where the opportunities will be and where you want to be. Then develop your plan. Will you work on some relationships? Register for some events? Set-up email notifications on Google and job boards?
- Take the time away to inventory your skills and re-work your resume
The previous point focuses on your external analysis, but don’t forget about the internal one. Take a step back to review your skills. Should you do any extra training this year? Then, re-work your resume. Maybe even create multiple resumes that focus on different roles.
- Be flexible when scheduling meetings
If you manage to get an interview or meeting with a potential client, be able to work around their schedule. Everybody is a busy right now and will be playing “catch-up” for a couple weeks after the holidays. The more flexible you are, the more likely you’ll be able to get a meeting, and clients will appreciate you accommodating to their schedule.
If you set a goal to find new contracts during your break but haven’t started yet, don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time. The tips above are simple and shouldn’t take too much time away from your vacation. Do you have any other quick tips to find new contracts over the holidays? Share your ideas below!
How much time do you spend meeting people? How much time do you spend building on relationships that you have established? What do you expect from those relationships? Will they help you? Do you only build relationships with people you think will help you?
Networking is often viewed as a great way to build a professional reputation, to add to your client base or to open doors to meet new recruiters. It is really hard to draw a straight line correlation between networking efforts and return on those efforts, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter, because if you are “networking” purely for your own gain, then likely you will fail.
Here is a selfless approach to networking:
- Go to events where you will meet new people, otherwise you’re just hanging out with old friends and nobody’s benefiting. This doesn’t mean ditching your friends completely, but make sure it’s not only your friends.
- Depending on your trade, networking opportunities can be hard to find, so take some initiative and find new events, rather than waiting for somebody send you an invitation. If you want to build a niche network, you may even need to start your own networking group.
- Networking with the intent of “taking” is very transparent. Most people won’t retain “takers” in their network (as a side note, you should also avoid these folks).
- Help others because it will ultimately come back, but do it because want to, not because you want to get something back.
- Avoid abusing your network. Refrain from giving names out to people you don’t know, and genuinely get to know someone before asking for names of their contacts.
- If you believe that an introduction will benefit someone you know then make that introduction.
- Network with people who you think are interesting, otherwise it’s just boring for everybody.
There are many rewards to networking but if you don’t treat your network properly, you’ll never get to reap those rewards. Do you have any other tips for selfless networking? Have you ever encountered a selfish networker? Tell us your stories in the comments below.
Your personal brand defines who you are and will have a strong impact on your success as a contractor. Have you thought much into what your personal brand represents? It’s never too late to get started, but while you plan it out, here are 3 important things you should decide:
- Decide what your personal brand looks like. Perhaps you want to be seen as a professional, accomplished, ambitious contractor. “The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear” Socrates. (Clearly this is not a new concept!)
- Decide what actions will always support that brand. Others will associate your actions to the type of person you want to be. The following might be examples that support the “professional, accomplished, ambitious” brand.
- Dress professionally;
- Invest in training – continue to learn;
- Take on more responsibility;
- Always take accountability and do not look for excuses;
- Be a cheerleader. Take on the glass half full attitude;
- Look after your health. Stay relatively fit (you don’t need to be an elite athlete) and eat relatively healthy (you don’t need to be a model);
- Look for ways to give back to charities, to the industry, to colleagues;
- Be a team player.
- Decide how you will protect your brand. You’d hate to go through all of the steps of creating your personal brand, only to jeopardize it with inconsistent actions. Following the same concept, that you want to cultivate, for example the “professional, accomplished, ambitious” brand, here are some don’ts!
- Don’t use abusive language in any circumstance when dealing with your clients, especially never in writing.
- Don’t let your communication style be “un-business like”. You may use text messaging or IM shorthand with your friends, but business communication should be understandable to everyone;
- Casual work days should not mean ratty jeans and well worn sweat shirts. Adopt a smart casual approach (always dress just a little better than you need to);
- If you write “stuff” outside of work (blogs, facebook posts, articles etc) you might want to be sure that if your clients read them they would not raise their eyebrows;
- Don’t compromise your own principles. Work with clients that have your kind of principles;
- Don’t let your personal life encroach unduly into your work life. It’s OK to be proud of your kids, but most clients don’t need a blow by blow of their lives and they certainly don’t want to be dragged into your personal “dramas”.
What are your top branding tips? Leave us your thoughts below!