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5 ways to suck less at networking events

(Business News) Business networking is a tremendously valuable tool for growing your personal and professional brand, but do you suck at it?

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Building your network without blowing it

Networking is an essential part of building big business. Although social media has enriched our lives by allowing us to connect across vast distances almost instantly, there is really no better substitute for building in-person connections and powerful relationships than face to face in-person networking.

As long as you’re going to events to build your network, here are some helpful tips over how to be more effective with your in-person networking efforts.

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1. Pick the right group to network in.

Although there are many networking events available it can be challenging to figure out which ones are useful for you to go to. Select a networking event that has lots of high quality people you want to meet already attending. Facebook, yelp, twitter, LinkedIn, eventbrite.com, all have events happening every day. Some of these events you can see how many people are attending and what kind of people are attending.

Save yourself some time and go to events that look like they have a good crowd that you would find benefit in meeting. If you select an event where you’re unable to see the attendees you are taking a risk that the event may be hyped up by a marketing team and unable to deliver the value you’re really looking for.

2. Help others.

Many people attend networking events looking for something. When they find what they are looking for, whether it’s a business referral, a new connection, or the answer to a challenge they are facing in their business, they appreciate and remember people that helped accelerate their progress in the challenges they face. Make sure to figure out quickly what other people are looking for and search your resources for that.

They will more than likely return the favor many times over when you least suspect it at a later time. One key aspect to receiving a return is maintaining your relationship to that person so they at least remember you.

3. Introduce people to others.

Lots of people attend networking events for the primary purpose of meeting other people. I know that I’ve figured out that I usually meet about six quality connections per networking event. I meet less people because I feel spending quality time with people is important to me and it helps build stronger relationships.

If you introduce a person to another, you accelerate the amount of people they are meeting in a shorter period of time, which is usually a good thing. If you introduce a few people to others around the event, soon you will develop a reputation that night as the person who you have to meet.

Others will start introducing you to key people they meet and this greatly accelerates the quality of people that you will meet that night.

4. Chat about family.

Sometimes conversation gets a bit stale. The key to developing friendship and business relationships is to find commonalities as quickly as possible. Most people have families. More importantly most people are fond of their families and enjoy talking about them.

So if you occasionally hit an area where the conversation is about to drift off and become boring because you don’t know what to chat about next, bring up the subject of family such as, do you have any kids? Do you go on any vacations and maybe bring your family ever?

If the person you’re talking to says yes, then bring up and share similar stories of your own and it will quickly help you seem like you’re old friends. Your new connection will enjoy talking about subjects that interest them and after they’ve decided they like you, you can then switch the conversation to business.

5. To get over anxiety, focus the conversation on others.

Not all of us are social butterflies. It can be intimating going to a crowd of strangers and talking to all of them. Sometimes all you have to do is think about good questions that focus on other people and the the conversation develops itself from there. You can ask questions about your new connection, about their life, or why are they there at this networking event?

You can also make comments or ask their opinions even about the environment such as, do you know if this event always gets this packed? What kinds of people do you think usually attend these events? Keep the conversation going with good questions and the relationship will take care of itself.

Matthew Winters is the owner of Austin Visuals 3D Animation Studio , a Full-Service 2D & 3D animation studio, advertising agency, and video production studio. As one of Austin's movers and shakers, he also founded Speed Friending Events which produces networking mixers and social events in over 14 cities nationally. Matthew is dedicated to providing solutions to social and technology related issues in the industry.

Business News

Why the world is looking at HEB as the model for preparedness

(BUSINESS NEWS) HEB didn’t react quickly, they had been planning and putting processes in place for years. Businesses that want to live through hard times need hard plans.

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HEB store front

In the midst of COVID-19, there seems to be a grocer retailer that should be recognized for how they quickly adapted their processes and supply chain as it relates to providing one of the most essential items we all need: groceries.

HEB is a regional grocer with over 400 stores in Texas and Mexico. In January 2020, they were recognized by Business Insider as being one of the best grocery stores in America. Now if you live in Texas for example, you probably have your own reasons why you love HEB (based in San Antonio, TX) but here are some reasons to truly appreciate their leadership, management and partners even more.

They actually have been working on their pandemic and influenza plan since 2005. When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and surrounding areas extremely hard in 2017, HEB was instrumental in helping the communities to rebuild. They have done an incredible number of things like:

  • Implementing a Director of Emergency Preparedness
  • Offering raises to their store managers and employees (called partners) as a great incentive to keep up their great efforts and work
  • Allowed the partners flexibility in sick leave
  • Worked with supply chains early on identify areas that needed additional attention and how to still manage daily shipments of food and other grocery items
  • Put in signage in stores and setting up lines to help manage the amount of people in stores and the guides for social distancing
  • Adjusted store hours so that there would be ample time to re-stock overnight to meet consumer demands
  • Set limits on some items early on so that more customers would have access to those that they need
  • Continue to monitor the situation and adjust as needed
  • Received praise even from the popular Bren Brown about their Daring Leadership

While we continue to navigate what our day to day looks like, it seems like a great idea to take learnings from who is doing it well and give praise to those that are aiding however they can in this current climate and we are forever grateful for access to groceries, toilet paper and other things – thank you, HEB.

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Business News

34 places to find open remote jobs available now

(BUSINESS NEWS) With everything seeming in flux and uncertainty, there are still companies with open positions who are looking to hire people right now, so jump to it!

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It goes without saying that these are difficult and unusual times. The number of Americans that have filed for unemployment has hit over 6.6 million and many more will be adding to that number in the coming weeks. In March alone, 701,000 jobs were cut by employers in the United States.

A Job Quality Index, developed by Cornell Law School and others, finds that 37 million jobs may be at risk. A

ccording to the study, “The list assumes that the COVID-19 crisis does not ultimately result in widespread, long-term, layoffs of goods-producing workers (i.e. that the crisis will be of modest duration). It focuses on those workers in sectors that are effectively being forced to shut down as a result of social-distancing recommendations or shelter-in-place requirements.”

While everything is changing around us every single day, something that remains a constant is a fact that people need money. Online businesses, delivery services, grocery stores, and the like are busy like they’ve never been before. As a result, a number of companies within these industries are looking to hire people immediately.

We even have our own Facebook Group dedicated to remote work, Remote Digital Jobs.

Check out the list below to see 34 companies or search sites that offer remote jobs currently open:

Aetna
Amazon
AngelList
A Place for Mom
Apple
BMarko Structures
Bellhops Online Service
Collage.com
CVS
Dollar General
Domino’s
DoorDash
GrubHub
Humana
Instacart
Intuit
Kelly Services
Kroger
Lionbridge
LiveOps
Nielsen
Outschool
PagerDuty
Papa John’s
Pizza Hut
PepsiCo
Publix
Redox
Rosetta Stone
UnitedHealth Group
Walgreens
Walmart
Williams-Sonoma
Worldpay
Xerox
Zoom

Additionally, Get Hired via LinkedIn is continuously updating who is currently hiring. According to the description from curator Andrew Seaman, “Companies from industries spanning from technology to retail are hiring to meet increased demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Below is a regularly updated list of companies hiring right now.”

As noted, the list above are all companies and sites offering remote/work-from-home positions. The Get Hired list may include positions that require on-site work.

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Business News

Debunking ridiculous remote work myths (and some serious survival tips)

(BUSINESS) People new to remote work (or sending their teams home) are still nervous and have no concept of what really happens when people work from home. We’ll debunk that.

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With an entire nation (or planet) moving to a remote workforce in the midst of a global pandemic, we’re hearing some pretty wild misunderstandings of what remote work is, and how it functions effectively. Bosses are scrambling to buy up spying tech for some good ol’ hamfisted enforcement.

For those of us who have been remote for ages, it’s fascinating to watch the transition. And also offensive. People tweeting about getting to take naps and not wear pants. That’s not remote work, that’s just you being unsupervised like a child for five minutes, KEVIN.

I was chatting with my buddy Michael Pascuzzi about remote work (full disclosure, he’s a Moderator in our Remote Digital Jobs group) and despite cracking many jokes, we realized there is a lot of noise to cut through.

In the spirit of offering meat for you in these hungry times, Michael offered to put his thoughts on paper. And why should you listen to him? It’s because he has worked for several tech companies, both startups and enterprises including TrackingPoint, 3DR, and H.P. He currently works remotely for Crayon, a Norwegian Digital Transformation, and Cloud Services company. He holds an M.B.A. in Digital Media Management from St. Edward’s University and a B.A. in Art History from the University of Connecticut. He’s also wonderfully weird. And a remote worker.


In his own words below:

So you’re working remotely now. Cool.

At first, it feels.. strange. But, as you get into it, you’ll get comfortable with your routine.

I’m sure you have a preconceived notion of remote workers. You probably thought this type of work was just for Unabombers and nomads. Maybe you don’t think you have a real job any longer because you’re doing it in your Underoos.

While, yes, working from home does allow you the option to work in your underwear, you still probably shouldn’t. There’s a lot to working from home and getting work done. You’re going to get a crash course in the coming weeks. I’m going to give you a leg up on your peers by telling you what you really need to know and what nobody else is telling you about remote work.

The following is a cheat sheet to getting ahead of your peers – and maybe make a case for you to continue in this lifestyle after the pandemic has subsided.

1. Working remotely doesn’t mean playtime

Right now, you’re roughly one week into your new working arrangement. You’ve got your table, your computer, and your whole set up. You’re also taking advantage of:
– The creature comforts of home
– Nobody looking over your shoulder

Irish coffees for breakfast, no pants-wearing, and naps during lunch are all available to you now that you work from home. And let’s not forget about #WhiteClawWednesdays!

These are all terrible ideas.

Here’s why:

If you come to a phone/video meeting drunk, we’ll know. If you’re on a video call with bedhead and a wrinkled shirt, we’ll assume you’re unprofessional. White Claw Wednesdays are probably okay in moderation, but taking a shot every time Karen says something annoying on a conference call is a bad idea!

Working from home should be an enjoyable and comfortable experience, but it shouldn’t be fun. It’s still work; and work sucks.

2. Working remotely should give you a better work/life balance:

Initially, you’ll find it hard for you and for your employer to separate your work hours from your life hours. Staying working only during your work hours is VITAL to keeping your sanity. Microsoft Office 365 has a tool that measures your wellbeing in “My Analytics.” Below is a picture of my wellbeing for this month. It’s not good.

digital accounting of wellbeing

The leadership team and managers at my company stress wellbeing. We take that chart seriously, and failing to have quiet days doesn’t make you look like a hard worker. Hard workers get shit done 8-5.

3. Working remotely also doesn’t mean firing the nanny

Working remotely doesn’t equal additional family time. Your work hours are your work hours. The pandemic quarantine doesn’t leave a whole lot of options for families to coexist without overlapping.

And it’s okay to occasionally have a “coworker.” But, you need to create your own private workspace within the hustle and bustle of homeschooling going on around you.

Here are a few more best practices you won’t read anywhere else:

You’ll need to learn to distance yourself from “work” when no longer at your “office.” This means powering down at the end of the day. Having a work/life balance when you work from home tends to swing in the opposite direction than you probably assumed; work can take over your life.

  • You’re going to have to turn off mobile notifications 100% of the time. It’s a pandemic, you’re not traveling; you don’t need them on – ever.
  • Turn off your computer at the end of the day. It’s good for your computer, and it’s fantastic for your mental health.
  • If your manager needs to reach you or you need to contact a direct report, just follow the wise words of Kim Possible: Call me, beep me if you wanna reach me.
  • You must wear pants. (FYI guys, dark leggings look like real pants and are super comfortable) Get ready for your day as if it were a regular office. Take a shower, shave, comb your hair, eat breakfast in the kitchen, wear jewelry. Look like you give a damn.

  • You must turn on your camera for video calls (and please don’t take your laptop into the bathroom. no field trips). Nonverbal communication accounts for 93% of all communication. We need to see your face, your posture, your eyerolls.
  • All of your calls should be video calls. You’ll find you’ll miss humans if you do not see them daily.
  • Clean the room (or at least directly behind you). We shouldn’t see laundry and quarantine snacks in the background. We absolutely should never HEAR you opening a bag of chips.
  • Close your door. Kitchen, office, bedroom… whatever you’re using needs to be YOUR space. It’s your office. Your clubhouse. Only one Homer allowed.

And for the love of all that isn’t COVID, please wear pants.

More resources:

I’m on a team at Crayon that freely consults on working remotely and cloud technology. This isn’t a sales pitch. If you have questions or need productivity tips, you can always email my team directly at contact.us@crayon.com.

Meanwhile, here are some additional resources to dig into:

  1. 20 tips for working from home
  2. Guide to engaging a distributed workforce
  3. Top 15 tips to effectively manage remote employees
  4. How to make working from home work for you

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