Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Maximize Your Networking

It doesn’t matter where you work or what you do. If you’re not building a strategic network, you could be missing out on opportunities to advance your business and career. So how does one balance networking with an already unbearable list of daily demands? Set a plan and focus on quality rather than quantity.

Here are five easy steps for turning contacts into assets:

1. Make a Connection. When meeting someone new, establish a link back to you. Do you have a friend or colleague in common? Have you read an article in which the person was featured? If so, let them know. By warming the door, you immediately connect with them and lead them into a conversation.

2. Ease the Situation. Most people can detect the networking vibe from a mile away. Let your contact know right off the bat that what you’re looking for are ideas and advice. Professionals will feel respected, let their guard down and offer more valuable information.

3. State your Purpose. In two minutes or less clearly state your objective. Are you exploring ways to advance your career? If so, give a bit of information about your background and future goals. Are seeking out new customers? Talk about your current customer base, your success stories and how you’d like your business to grow.

4. Engage your Contact. Ask your client for feedback. Actively listen to what they are saying. If anything is unclear or if you wish to learn more, ask them. Now that you have them in front of you, make every second of their (and your) time count.

5. Get More Bang for your Buck. As you thank the contact for their time and exchange business cards, be sure to ask if there is anyone else they recommend you contact. Each contact you make should expand by at least one so you can continue to grow your network.
DiggIt!Add to del.icio.usAdd to Technorati Faves

Monday, January 26, 2009

Planning Pointers for a Great Event

With so many things to keep in mind when planning an event, it can sometimes seem insurmountable. Yet, when you have the right tactics in toe, planning a great event is not only possible, it can be enjoyable, too.

1. Make a plan. Your first step should be to clarify why your organization is holding the event. Once you determine the purpose for your event, set the goals and budget. With these elements defined, it is easier to extract all the details needed to achieve your aim and layout a timeline of the steps to get there.

2. Get people excited. Attitude is everything in event planning. The mood of the hosts, speakers and attendees will make a huge difference. Make sure the invitation and other correspondence attract, intrigue and excite guests. Generate buzz. Create a publicity plan where applicable and contact appropriate media to alert them of photo/interview opportunities.

3. Plan for the worst. Be sure to crash test the event. Scout the location beforehand, check all the equipment, confirm reservations, send a reminder to attendees and taste the punch. One of the best things you can do when planning a successful event is assume that nothing will go as planned.

4. Expect the best. Success requires a lot more than a smooth function. Sufficient parking, proper lighting, appropriate thanks, comfortable seating, a clear view of the speaker, and chocolates on the chairs are just a few of the accents that distinguish a good event and great event. These "little" things add up to make a big difference in making your event a hit.

5. Unwind. Evaluating the event while the details are still fresh is essential. Provide a questionnaire to attendees, and write down any pluses, minuses and insights of your own. Express your appreciation to all parties involved and as a final touch, send a picture, program or note to those who could not attend. After the clean up and lock down is complete, kick up your feet with some leftovers and congratulate the team on a job well done.
DiggIt!Add to del.icio.usAdd to Technorati Faves

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Give and Get of Corporate Philanthropy

Surviving challenging times requires a reliance not only on your own fortitude but also on your connections with community. Demonstrating support for others can improve your image, your attitude and your bottom line. Whether you call it social responsibility, philanthropy or community relations, consider giving back an opportunity to get even more.

If you're giving back in order to celebrate a milestone in your business or to foster greater teamwork among your employees, think about how you can connect your action(s) to your motivation(s). Perhaps you devise a fun way for employees to be part of the selection process or you set up a matching program where you'll do a dollar match for your employees' donations of time & talent. Maybe it's all about making the action a celebration in itself to bolster pride in the values of the business.

If you're giving back because of forces around you, think about ways you can integrate it internally and make it a big deal. When approached by nonprofits needing assistance, consider the request thoughtfully and be sure it aligns with your corporate ideology. There is nothing wrong with making sure that your charitable acts result in more positive thinking in, by and of your company.

Understanding your motive and clarifying your purpose allows you to be authentic in your actions -- and that's good for everyone.
DiggIt!Add to del.icio.usAdd to Technorati Faves

Monday, January 19, 2009

Let the Process Drive the Participants

Letting participants drive process can result in confusion. It can undermine the credibility of the very process that is needed to move the organization forward.

Set the tone from the beginning. Identify your list of participants. Make notes of their preferences for times, dates and the order of things. Then, stop. Take a breath. Contact your facilitator. Find out what dates work for him/her. Talk about the psychology of the meeting start times and ending times. Figure out how food and space do or don't play into your scenario. Identify 2 or 3 options that work for the purpose of the process and then contact your participants.

Putting their needs ahead of the needs of the process can actually diminish your (and their) overall effectiveness. Once the parameters are set, then let them drive the ideas!
DiggIt!Add to del.icio.usAdd to Technorati Faves

Thursday, January 15, 2009

From Ideas to Action

Two blips on our radar screen indicate we need to prepare for a shift from ideas to action. In November, this country elected a pragmatist. In December, Bruce Nussbaum declares the death of "innovation" and the birth of "transformation." As new values take shape, my hope is that we embrace that shift by respecting both ends of the spectrum -- by connecting ideas with action rather than simply throwing one out for the other. The process between each might be the riskiest and most rewarding opportunity we have.
DiggIt!Add to del.icio.usAdd to Technorati Faves

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A logo does not a brand make

Don't be confused that you are marking property when you think about branding for your organization. Your organization does not belong to you alone. And, a brand is not a logo.

An organization's brand is a collection of experiences. Since an effective brand is a collection of consistent experiences, set a goal to foster, nurture and shape that collection of consistent experiences across your targeted stakeholder groups.

Start from your ideology (mission, vision, values) to shape your intention. Nurture it through your identity (logo, tagline, messaging). Foster it through every interaction and every communication put forth by every representative.

From visible communication materials (brochures, reports, advertisements) to gatherings of all sizes (galas, events, meetings) and the things you can't touch (attitudes, tone, manners) -- it all matters.

Bring people into the process. Help them understand the value they bring and the responsibility they share. Engage them so they can engage others effectively to build your brand and advance your mission.
DiggIt!Add to del.icio.usAdd to Technorati Faves

Previous Posts