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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

This web platform for cannabis is blowing up online distribution

(BUSINESS NEWS) Dutchie, a website platform for cannabis companies, just octupled in value. Here’s what that means for the online growth of cannabis distribution.

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A small jar of cannabis on a desk with notebooks, sold online in a nicely made jar.

The cannabis industry has, for the most part, blossomed in the past few years, managing to hit only a few major snags along the way. One of those snags is the issue of payment processing, an issue compounded by predominantly cash-only transactions. Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon company, has helped mitigate that issue—and it just raised a ton of money.

Technically, Dutchie is a jack-of-all-trades service that creates and hosts websites for dispensaries, tracks product, processes orders, keeps stock of revenue, and so much more. While it was valued at around $200 million as recently as summer of 2020, a round of series C funding currently puts the company at around $1.7 billion—approximately 8 times its worth a mere 8 months ago.

There are a few reasons behind Dutchie’s newfound momentum. For starters, the pandemic made cannabis products a lot more accessible—and desirable—in states in which the sale of cannabis is legal. The ensuing surge of customers and demand certainly didn’t hurt the platform, especially given that Dutchie is largely responsible for keeping things on track during some of the more chaotic months for dispensaries.

Several states in which the sale of cannabis was illegal also voted to legalize recreational use, giving Dutchie even more stomping ground than they had prior to the lockdown.

Dutchie also recently took on 2 separate companies and their associated employees, effectively doubling their current staff. The companies are Greenbits—a resource planning group—and Leaflogix, which is a point-of-sale platform. With these two additions to their compendium, Dutchie can operate as even more of an all-in-one suite, which absolutely contributes to its value as a company.

Ross Lipson, who is Dutchie’s co-founder and current CEO, is fairly dismissive of investment opportunities for the public at the moment, saying he instead prefers to stay “focused with what’s on our plate” for the time being. However, he also appears open to the possibility of going public via an acquisition company.

“We look at how this decision brings value to the dispensary and the customer,” says Lipson. “If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”

For now, Dutchie remains the ipso facto king of cannabis distribution and sales—and they don’t show any plans to slow down any time soon.

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Business News

Ford adopts flexible working from home schedule for over 30k employees

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ford Motor Co. is allowing employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic winds down. Is this the beginning of a trend for auto companies?

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Woman in car working on engineering now allowed a flexible schedule for working from home.

The pandemic has greatly transformed our lives. For the most part, learning is being conducted online. At one point, interacting with others was pretty much non-existent. Working in the office shifted significantly to working remotely, and it seems like working from home might not go away anytime soon.

As things slowly get back to a new “normal”, will things change again? Well, one thing is sure. Working from home will be a permanent thing for some people as more companies opt to continue letting people work remotely.

And, the most recent company on the list to do this is Ford Motor Co. Even after the pandemic winds down, Ford will allow more than 30,000 employees already working from home to continue doing so.

Last week, the automaker giant announced its “flexible hybrid model” schedule to its staff. The new schedule is set to start in the summer, and employees can choose to work remotely and come into the office for tasks that require face-to-face collaborations, such as meetings and group projects.

How much time an employee spends in the office will depend on their responsibilities, and flexible remote hours will need to be approved by an employee’s manager.

“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent — you need to be in the physical space to do the job,” David Dubensky, chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, told the Washington Post. “Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful. … It’s up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their people leader to determine what works best.”

Ford’s decision to implement a remote-office work model has to do in part with an employee survey conducted in June 2020. Results from the survey showed that 95% of employees wanted a hybrid schedule. Some employees even reported feeling more productive when working from home.

Ford is the first auto company to allow employees to work from home indefinitely, but it might not be the only one. According to the Post, Toyota and General Motors are looking at flexible options of their own.

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Woman working in office with remote team

Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

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