4 Networking Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

Daily Muse, Contributor , Forbeswoman, 9/30/11

Whether you’re looking for a job or not, you’ve probably been encouraged to “network, network, network!” more times than you can count. Are all those conferences and

Photo courtesy of Jodi Womack.

events you’re attending leading to new connections or opportunities?

No? You’re not the only one. Many networking newbies have tendencies that actually inhibit building real relationships with their new contacts.

The good news: it’s not that hard to fix. Here’s what you might not even realize you’re doing wrong—and what to do about it.

Mistake #1: Talking about Yourself—All the Time

You’re talented! Eager! Ambitious! You have lots of ideas to share! And you want to make sure that every person you meet at the event knows who you are and what you do!

We get it. And yes, sharing your story with new contacts is important. But sharing your life story is overkill: Nothing can set a person off more than an aspiring professional who takes no interest in anything beside her own ambitions.

The Fix: Take Some Interest.

Stop highlighting your latest accomplishment and start listening instead. Find people with industries or careers of interest to you, and ask them questions: How did they get their start? What do they love about their jobs, and what do they wish they could change? By taking an interest in your contact, you will make her feel valued—and hopefully interested in continuing the relationship. And you’ll likely gain some new insights, too.

Mistake #2: Expecting a Job

You’re looking for a new job, so you hit the circuit of industry events every week, asking every person you meet to help you find your new gig—after all, it’s not what you know, it’s who.

Well, yes. But give people some credit: If you pursue networking opportunities purely for the job prospects, your contacts will figure you out. You will leave them feeling used, and they will be less likely to recommend you for an opportunity.

The Fix: Provide Some Value.

If you’re looking for a job, don’t ask for it—work for it. Do some research into what your contact does both in and out of work and find ways that you can contribute your time or support.

Perhaps you could volunteer your expertise in social media for the big convention she’s heading up, or offer your accounting knowledge for her non-profit. Provide some opportunity for contacts to see you in a working light, and you’ll be that much closer to a good referral.

Mistake #3: Not Saying Thanks

You attended a large event last week and grabbed coffee with one of your new professional contacts afterward. And then—the week got busy, and you didn’t get around to saying thank you. She’ll understand, right?
Maybe. But if you don’t show gratitude, even in the smallest (or largest) event, you risk leaving a negative impression—probably not the desired outcome of your meeting.

The Fix: Just Do It.

Whether you pack notecards in your purse for post-meeting scribbles, set yourself a reminder on Gmail to send off a quick note, or just insert a quick “thanks for taking time to meet with me!” at the final handshake, you must say thank you. Not only will you solidify your reputation as a courteous individual, but you won’t be leaving your contacts with a bad taste in their mouths. Always say thank you, and your good impression will last until your next meeting.

Mistake #4: Forgetting to Follow Up

You meet someone over a networking happy hour and tell her you’ll send her your portfolio. But as the night goes on, she has a few drinks and meets a few dozen more people. You’re sure she’s forgotten all about you, so you decide it’s not even worth emailing her the next day.

Bad idea. Meeting someone is just the first step in networking. In order to forge a lasting relationship (and make sure people don’t forget you), you need to follow up, every single time.

The Fix: Stay Accountable.

If you told a networking contact that you would do something, do it. Even if you’re not sure she remembers you, you can bet that she will be grateful that you took the time out of your day to send her what you had discussed. If you’re worried about forgetting, keep a pen near your business card holder to quickly scribble out what follow-up actions you have for that contact, and review your cards after the event.

Above all, keep in mind that networking isn’t about short-term gain, but about learning, growing, and forming connections. Adopt good social habits, and you’ll see your skills and comfort improve, your opportunities increase, and your relationships grow—for the long haul.

4 To-Dos for the “Someday” Entrepreneur

By Adelaide Lancaster, Forbeswomen, 3/7/12

I talk with a lot of people who want to start a business “someday.” And as a result, I often think about the factors that determine which “someday” entrepreneurs will actually become business owners, and which will continue to say “I wish” for years to come.

Surprisingly, the ability to take the plunge has a lot less to do with people’s personalities, and a lot more to do with how accessible and familiar the experience of entrepreneurship is to them. Those who can picture themselves running a business often do. And those who continue to think of entrepreneurship as a big, scary thing that other people (perhaps more gregarious, sales-oriented, or risk-tolerant people) do tend to never move forward.

So, if you, too, dream of someday being your own boss, an important first step is just getting acquainted with the nature of the beast. Here are four things that will help you do just that.

1. Make New Friends
One of the best ways to learn what entrepreneurship is really like is by getting to know some entrepreneurs. Not necessarily the fancy, media darling types, but just normal, low-key people who work for themselves. To start, connect with entrepreneurs who match your own demographic—it helps you to start thinking “hey, if they can do it, so can I!” But be sure to branch out from there, and also to meet people in a wide variety of industries. There are lots of styles of entrepreneurship, so the more diversity you can experience, the better!

If you don’t know any entrepreneurs, just start asking people to make some introductions. Or, join groups on LinkedIn or Facebook, and start paying attention to the discussions that are happening. Ask someone you find interesting to have coffee and take it from there. Pick their brain about useful resources, groups, or meetings, and see if they can introduce you to even more entrepreneurs.

2. Pick Some New Role Models
In addition to making some new pals, it’s important to identify role models who are a little more established in the business world. You might not be able to take them to coffee, but you can learn a lot by observing them and their companies from afar.
Select three brands or companies that you like and admire. Find as many ways to follow their leaders as possible—be it their blogs, articles, or Facebook profiles. Read their books if they have them. Read their press and interviews that they’ve done. Think about how their personalities and leadership styles have shaped the brands and the companies they run. Stay abreast of their company news, and take note of what they share about their own experience.

3. Fall in Love with Small Business as a Customer
There’s a certain romance to small business. As a customer, there’s always something more special about the experience. Sometimes it’s witnessing changes over the years, other times it’s the connection to the owner, others it’s the attention to detail that’s given to the product or service.

And there’s a lot to learn from that! So, in addition to making friends with entrepreneurs themselves, it’s important to also make relationships with some actual businesses. Think about the small businesses that you currently patronize, or the new start-ups whose products you love. What do you know about their owners or story? What are their goals and where are they going? What do they do that’s memorable, distinct, or unique? What do they do particularly well? Thinking about your own experiences as a customer will give you tons of insight into running your own show.

4. Demystify “Business” Speak
Most would-be entrepreneurs get scared off by the “business” side of things. They overestimate the skills and knowledge that are needed to run a business and assume that there are huge mountains to be climbed and learning curves to overcome before even getting started.

But it’s important to confront the monster under the bed—it’s not as hard as you might think, and you certainly don’t have to have an MBA to do it. Pick a small business magazine like Inc. or Fast Company and invest $15 to get a subscription. Peruse it each month, but feel free to read only what’s interesting to you. You’ll soon see how un-mysterious business can be. From behind-the-scenes business profiles to questions about how to handle particular challenges, you’ll begin to learn a lot about the experience of entrepreneurship.

As you start talking to people, expanding your reading list, and thinking more and more about the what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, you’ll soon see that it’s not as big and scary as you might think. And that “someday” will inch a little bit closer to today.

How to Manage a Micromanager

Deborah L. Jacobs, Forbes Staff 5/07/2012

If you’ve ever worked with a micromanager, you know how unproductive and demoralizing it can be. This control freak is reluctant to delegate, may second-guess everything you do, and can shake your confidence in your own abilities. Simple tasks that you could accomplish quickly if left to your own devices take twice as long. Your efforts may be reduced to dust as the micromanager completely re-does your work.
Sure, you may be tempted to bolt, but at a time of high unemployment, you might not have that option. So better to master the art of managing the micromanager.
Start by understanding what causes someone to act this way. Often it’s a need for control that stems from insecurity: lack of confidence, workplace instability and pressure to produce–both individually and as a team. Deep-seated psychological issues and problems at home can also influence the way people behave at work. Many of us have the propensity to be a micromanger, but some of us rein it in better than others.
With this in mind, here are eight practical steps you can take.

1. Look for patterns.

As annoying as micromanagers are, they’re incredibly predictable. Watch for behavior swings. There will be certain situations, times of the day or week, when they get especially agitated. Knowing their pressure points can help you ease them.

2. Anticipate needs.

Once you know what triggers them, you can stay ahead of those stressors and ease the tensions early on. Flag potential problems before they escalate and offer solutions. Always have a stockpile ready of new initiatives and demonstrate that you are proactive. This helps them curb their responses to the pressure points without slipping into micromanagement mode.

3. Show empathy.

Remember, the micromanager is under pressure to produce. Show that you understand his or her plight and are willing to share the load. This could be as simple as offering to help. Tomorrow might be the day when this colleague has to take a child to school but also has an early meeting. So today ask what you can do to make life easier tomorrow.

4. Be super reliable.

It’s much easier to manage an office where everyone turns up on time and meets work deadlines. This goes back to the fact that a micromanager hates feeling out of control. If some members of the team don’t deliver, the micromanager gets aggravated and makes unfair demands on everyone else. Discuss as a team what you can do to coordinate things in such a way that there’s no need for the micromanager to fret about how everything is running.

5. Be a role model.

Treat the micromanager the way you would like to be treated. Give the micromanager space. Don’t smother or micromanage back. In working with other people, show how your management style is different –and gets equally good results.

6. Speak up—gently.

Often micromanagers are oblivious to the effect they are having on other people. They actually think all their micromanaging is producing a better work product. Show encouragement and support for the micromanager’s strengths. Then, without being confrontational, find a way to let this person know how micromanagement affects you. A little levity could diffuse the tension. Or you might just ask how he or she thinks it feels to be second-guessed and mistrusted all the time.

7. Enlighten others.

It’s not just you who should be shouldering the responsibility of neutralizing someone’s instinct to micromanage. And chances are you’re not the only one suffering either. Explain to others on your team what you’re doing to ease the micro-manager’s anxiety and encourage them to do the same.

8. Run interference.

If a micromanager reports to you and has a detrimental effect on other team members, be a sounding board. Often the micromanager has a skill or quality that’s important to the organization. But it’s up to this manager’s boss to play a leading role in preventing other team members from getting squelched.

“How to Get What You Want at Work – 1st Tip For The Work Place

“How to Get What You Want at Work – 4 Tips for Dealing with the Opposite Sex at Work”. These tips are based on the fascinating online video eWorkshop: Mars and Venus in the Workplace. There are 4 unique tips for women and 4 for men that when practiced reduces gender conflict and will have the following benefits:
• Higher productivity and creativity
• Greater cooperation and collaboration
• Decreased loss of personnel, which leads to decreased cost & time spent on recruitment and training
• Better understanding of the needs and concerns of your customers (regardless of whether they are internal or external customers), and
• Better decision-making… a competitive advantage for the company as a whole when it maximizes masculine & feminine skills
Here is the first tip for both a woman and a man…

Tip For Women
Women need to practice letting others know of their achievements, their results and their ideas. Do not wait for someone to ask you for your ideas or what you’ve been up to – let them know. Men do not see this as bragging. What they see is a competent and capable person. Women need to remember that men are socialized from an early age to suppress doubts and maintain, either a façade or, a reality of self confidence. This is a great skill and essential in a situation where it is necessary to maintain status within a group. Being confident in promoting yourself will only improve levels of communication with men in the workplace.

Tip For Men
For men dealing with women, building rapport is a very easy and important way to improve your work dealings with women. Because relationships are important to women, if you make the effort to get to know them, or if they feel they have something in common with you, they are more likely to positively respond to your requests and ideas.

A female manager will typically tend to discuss a challenge or situation with others, seek their input and feedback from the team before making a recommendation to senior management. She thinks it’s important that everyone feels they have contributed to the decision and therefore are more likely to support it. This is her style of management. It is based on cooperation and collaboration (and a whole stack of other C words – conversation, connection, commiseration and compassion).When a man values and frequently practices building rapport another C word will be realized and that is COOPERATION.

The whole premise of our “Mars and Venus in the Workplace” online video eWorkshop is that we are different and equal – not that one is better than the other – different and equal. Through awareness and understanding of some basic gender differences we both can learn some simple, yet practical solutions… making it much easier to interpret each other’s behavior correctly, act accordingly and ultimately get the outcome we desire.

If you found this information helpful, click the link below to learn more about the complete online video eWorkshop, “Mars and Venus in the Workplace”. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE COMPLETE ONLINE VIDEO eWORKSHOP NOW

“Mars and Venus in the Workplace” is the same life-changing, career-changing workshop that John Gray and his team of Mars Venus Success coaches have given in-person throughout the world. And now you can benefit from this workshop in the comfort of your own home.

PURCHASE TODAY! “MARS and VENUS in the WORKPLACE” ONLINE VIDEO eWORKSHOP

The Relationships You Want. Start Here.

Sincerely,

Mars Venus Coaching Team

Are You a Skilled Social Actor or a Social Chameleon?

We all engage in impression management – trying to put our best foot forward and “fit in” in social situations. Two psychological constructs address how people “perform” in social situations, and there are subtle, but important, differences.

The first construct is called Self-Monitoring, and it is the ability to read social cues and alter one’s behavior in order to try to “fit in” to a specific social situation. Often the high self-monitor controls his or her behavior in order to impress others or to receive others’ social approval. Low self-monitors, on the other hand, are less concerned with self-presentation and are more likely to express their true attitudes and feelings, regardless of the social circumstances (think about someone who expresses their true political feelings regardless of who they are interacting with, versus the high self-monitor who sizes up the crowd [liberal vs. conservative?] before sharing, or not sharing, political opinions).

The second construct is called Social Control, and is skill in social acting. Persons high on social control are also able to control and manage their impressions, but they are not as highly affected by the social situation. Instead, the high social control individual possesses a social self-confidence and poise that allows him or her to be effective in a wide variety of social situations. Instead of the high self-monitor’s tendency to “blend in,” the person high in Social Control tends to stand out in a positive manner.

Our research has found that individuals who possess a great deal of Social Control, and who are also expressive and outgoing, are more likely to be perceived as potential leaders, and to lead social groups. High self-monitors are also likely to be chosen as leaders because they represent the “prototype” of a group leader (because they fit in).

One problem with the high self-monitor is that in the desire to fit in with the group and gain their approval, the person may become a sort of “social chameleon,” changing attitudes, opinions, and feelings in an effort to fit in and be accepted. From a leadership perspective, this can mean the leader is highly sensitive and responsive to the social climate (and the leader changes views depending on the crowd, and may appear “wishy-washy”). Socially, the extremely high self-monitor fits in, but we never get a sense of who the social chameleon really is or what he or she believes in and stands for.

On the other hand, the person who is extremely high on social control moves confidently forward, and works to bring others along with him or her. The downside of too much social control, however, can be a sort of arrogance born of the supreme self-confidence that the individual possesses. Social control thus needs to be balanced with a sensitivity to others, and consideration of their opinions and feelings.

So, where do you fall on these two dimensions?

Here are some sample items from the Self-Monitoring Scale (agreeing suggests high self-monitoring):

• In different situations and with different people, I often act like very different persons.

• Even if I am not enjoying myself, I often pretend to be having a good time.

• When I am uncertain how to act in a social situation, I look to the behavior of others for cues.

Here are some sample items from the Social Control scale (again, agreeing suggests high social control):

• I can fit in with all types of people, young and old, rich and poor.

• People from different backgrounds seem to feel comfortable around me.

• I can very easily adjust to being in almost any social situation.

Published by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D.

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References

Riggio, Ronald (1987). The Charisma Quotient. New York: Dodd Mead.

Riggio, Ronald, Riggio, H., Salinas, C., & Cole, E. (2003). The role of social and emotional communication skills in leader emergence and effectiveness. Group Dynamics, 7, 83-103.

Snyder, Mark (1987). Public Appearances/Private Realities: The Psychology of Self-Monitoring. San Francisco: Freeman.

Snyder, Mark & Gangestad, S. (2000). Self-monitoring: Appraisal and reappraisal. Psychological Bulletin, 126(4), 530-555.