Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for July, 2012

Want to network more, but need a kick-start?

Whether you’re making connections within your organization, in your community, or globally, your participation in active networking outside of your normal circle of contacts is a powerful development strategy—for you and your organization or business.

My experience with networking and the power it generates towards success has proved to be both valuable and interesting. Valuable, because without fail, when I’m feeling confident and focused on actively making connections, I experience an influx of business or learning opportunities. And interesting, because I don’t necessarily experience the influx of business and learning from those I’m reaching out to! I received two phone calls just this week from professionals who very recently had similar experiences. I’m guessing many of you have, too. It’s pretty cool. This supports my belief in our ability to attract positive results when our intention is to actively participate in generating results.

If you want to network more, but you’re putting it off, or it doesn’t come easily to you, here are a few actions you can take to kick-start your networking intention and actions:

– Start writing down your personal and/or professional goals for networking. Why is it important to you? What do you want to learn? Whom might you want to get to know better? Where do you want to be better known?
– Make a commitment to identify just two new contacts who either work in an area you’re interested in learning more about, or who might be interested in exchanging ideas or expertise. Not ready to call them yet? Document their contact info so that you’ll have it when you’re ready.
– Set a target date to call just one of those contacts to schedule a meeting, coffee or lunch. Practice your request. For example: “I’m calling to see if you might be willing to meet for an hour. I’m on a quest to learn more about xyz, and I’d really appreciate hearing your experienced perspective.”
– Spend a half-hour perusing the sites of a couple of professional organizations that you’ve thought about joining. Perhaps this small step will lead to a stronger desire to take action and attend (physically or virtually) as a guest so that you can check it out more closely.
– Join a few applicable LinkedIn groups and make it your business to read and comment on discussions within the group. Or, you can start a discussion and invite comments. You may want to commit to participating in a specific number (two?) of discussions within a specific timeframe, to get you started.
– When you’re asked to sit down with someone who is seeking information from you, be generous with your time. Accept, and offer what you can.

If you’re looking to network at a specific event, you may be interested in one of my prior blog entries, where I share how I mentally prepare to attend a networking event in order to increase my enjoyment of the experience.

Happy Networking!

Flexibility can generate procrastination and a need for self-discipline.

Living in Upstate New York has its perks. One of them is that our summer season is so short, that a good portion of our business population’s pace slows down to seize the opportunity to enjoy the weather, family and friends. The best part? In many business environments, it’s downright acceptable.

After 22 years in business, I finally don’t freak out when business slows down in the summer. In fact, I enjoy it—most of the time. Certainly, there are days when I beat myself up for not being more productive or for not using the time to be more creative or to accomplish those administrative duties that are so tough to accomplish during crazy times. Then there are days when I’m totally centered on how fortunate I am to have the flexibility and time to do work that I love and pay attention to myself, and the people in my life that matter most. Those days are great.

I’m often asked how I stay disciplined working for myself and out of my home. The truth is that in general, deadline-driven client work demands productivity which doesn’t call for discipline. It calls for action. The real call for discipline is when I have ample time to plan and implement because when I have time to put things off, I assure you that I will! I’m guessing many of you can relate.

If and when you do find yourself with more flexibility and less productivity, having the self-discipline to generate and commit to target dates will minimize procrastination and generate action. If you’re delegating, require deliverables by specific target dates. If you’re serving a customer, client, or manager, self-impose and state specific target dates. Chances are specific targets are all you’ll need to generate more productive action.

It’s a beautiful summer day outside as I write this. I have several things due this week, but none that I’ve committed to for today—except for this entry. I think I’ll go sit on my porch for a while.