Why networking is the most powerful ingredient for success

Networking ¬ (noun)interact with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.

You hear the word networking bandied about with great regularity.  Everyone always talks about the importance of building networks.

But what exactly does it mean?

Yes, yes. You and I both know it means making connections.

You meet people all the time. Attend formal networking functions.  Join groups. Connect on LinkedIn. Maybe even become friends on Facebook. Yet somehow, the connections are just not working the way you want them to.

You’ve exchanged business cards, and got lots of ”connections”, but still, something seems to be missing.

What is frequently overlooked is that networking is all about maintaining as well as making connections.

It is not enough to just use a speedy few moments to get out your elevator pitch.

To build an authentic network, you need to do more than just an exchange business cards. Business cards are not the be all and end all.

What is important is knowing how you can contact the person you are talking to and remembering some key points about them.

Things like  – what do you have in common? Do they have a problem you could help them with? Can you introduce them to someone who could be of value to them?

DO NOT just give them your card and hope they’ll get in touch. That is not networking – it’s more like a face to face letterbox drop.

You need to nurture your connections. Offer support and help where you can, with no expectation of gain.

When you next turn up to a networking function, be sure that you’re ready to create and maximise all opportunities. You never know who you will meet!

Do not consider what they can do for you – it’s about what YOU can do for them. And I don’t mean it’s about what you can sell them. That’s just icky, and pushy!

From personal experience, I can honestly say, that some of my very best opportunities have come from the least expected places.

As you build the relationship,  you gain trust.

When trust exists connections start to open up, referrals happen and business starts to flow your way.

I love referring people to others in my network.

But…… I’ll only do it when I know the person I am referring is trustworthy.

By that I mean, I know they’ll be upfront about what they can deliver. They’ll be professional.

This will in turn build further trust in me.

Why? Because I have referred the right person for the task at hand. It’s good for my own networking.

Can you see how this works?

Referrals are a privilege awarded when you are an authentic networker.

With a strong and authentic network, you have a powerful tool. These are people you can turn to in your times of need. But, not until you’ve built a solid foundation of trust.

Networking is something that is ongoing. It needs to be valued and nurtured. It’s part of being a great Smarketer!

To your success!

Michelle

Michelle Hanton is a multi-award winning bespoke business strategist, working internationally as a consultant, coach, speaker and writer. She has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is the former CEO of Lifeline Top End, and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia, a national charity dedicated to the promotion of breast cancer awareness.

 

Feeling scared of going on Facebook Live?

Okay – so you know that Facebook Live is a pretty hot trend.

If you’re feeling a little bit scared (ok, maybe a lot!) – don’t stress. You are not alone in the fear.

Fear is not a bad thing as it can often help to keep us laser focussed on the task at hand. It’s pretty amazing what we can do when there’s no second chance.

What’s the worst that can happen?

Freeze up? Make a few bloopers? That’s okay. We all have to start somewhere.

Remember, people buy people. That means authenticity, not something all slick and flash. That’s the beauty of Facebook Live – it’s so authentic.

You also know it can only be done from your phone – right?

Wrong!

You can now record live from your computer.

My very clever friend, Ludwig Linnekogel has discovered how. He’s created this great FREE course on how to do it and I just had to share with all you guys. I also thought it could only be done via the phone.

Recording via computer is going to mean a lot less stress than using an itty bitty phone.

If you’re out and about, you’ll still need to use your phone. Here’s the link to my original blog post 7 Tops Tips for Using Facebook Live.

And here’s (the middle bit) of my first ever attempt at Facebook Live -it was an adventure to say the least, but I do practice what I preach!

So what are you waiting for? Go for it!

Love you to drop me a note, or a link to your clip and let me know how you went.

Here’s to your success!

Michelle

PS – if you’ve got a great product, but not just getting the results you want and deserve, our ebook – The Number One Barrier to your Business Growth will be  helpful. It’s FREE – click here for your copy, and yes, you have to put in your email address, but I promise no spam!


How to Effectively Communicate with your VA

Editors Note: The following article, a guest post, appeared in August 2016. We were saddened to hear of the passing of  Bibi Van Heerden in January 2017 – Vale Bibi.

Brilliant – you finally decided to get a VA! You might be terrified of letting go – don’t be. When you delegate, delegate fully. Make it work seamlessly by following these steps.

1. Make a great start

  • Don’t even consider getting a friend of family member as your VA – get someone who runs her own VA business. You will get a committed level of service, plus you get the benefit of her business experience. Win-win.
  • Don’t base your decision on cost. Think of it as an investment in your business – spend a little more to get more.
  • Get to know each other – mind-set & personality is half the relationship won. If you’re a little quirky, let it show. Concentrate of the positives of the relationship; don’t dwell on language or cultural differences.
  • Share mutual expectations & goals.
  • Be specific on what you require, & confirm your VA has the right skillset. You need to be confident that s/he will do what needs to be done.
  • Discuss how you will delegate work, communicate, and require feedback. Include exceptions and urgent work.
  • Step 1, after the initial interview, is to get a contract in place. Mandatory – don’t try to “wing it” by skipping this step. Include confidentiality clauses – this is your business, after all.
  • Step 2 in working together is to draw up a communication plan – a great way to test the waters with your new VA!

2. Set up shared software

  • Virtual face-to-face communication and email are the minimum you require. In addition, you may add in workload management software, collaboration software, etc. Some ideas: Slack, Skype, Google Hangouts, Evernote, DropBox, eBuddy, Trello, Yammer, Lastpass, Google Calendar, etc.
  • Ensure you can both view the workflow, and agree on times for updates – especially if you are in different time-zones.

3. Keep communication lines open

  • Set up a daily stand-up to discuss the day ahead – a quick convo: a) What tasks are in progress? B) What new tasks will she begin today? c) Are there any obstacles?
  • Restrict each email to one topic, for clarity.
  • Clearly outline your requirements, expectation, time-lines, and deadlines. Don’t forget your budget.
  • Follow-up, and confirm everything in writing. Reconfirm understanding with each delegated task.
  • Bear in mind that your VA likely has other clients, as well – so ensure that she is comfortable with meeting your deadlines.
  • Be patient – it may take a little time for you to adjust to each other’s methods.

4. Track progress

  • Be prepared to step in to clarify your expectations, especially at the start of the relationship; it takes a little time for the process to settle in & run smoothly.
  • Review in-progress results where appropriate. It feels a little sad to be given a large chunk of work, and left alone until delivery – show interest in what your VA is producing for you.
  • Depending on the terms of your contract, get interim figures on your usage hours – you don’t want an unpleasant surprise at the end of the billing period.

5. Provide feedback & encouragement

  • Treat your VA as a part of your team – value his skill-set.
  • Express appreciation & provide positive feedback – in terms of productivity, efficiency, and your positive outcomes as a result of her efforts.
  • He should feel comfortable reaching out to you any time he feels stuck.

6. Have regular reviews

  • Your VA needs to know your level of satisfaction.
  • You need to know your VA’s level of satisfaction.
  • Discuss concerns, better ways of communication or delivery, or processes.

Fabulous – you’ve freed yourself up from repetitive tasks & things you hate doing – think of all the time you now have to spend on revenue-generating activities!

Let us know in the comments how your VA has helped you in your business. Or, if you don’t have one yet, what’s stopping you?

AbouBibit the Author – Bibi Van Heerden (dec)  founder of Small Business Crux. A dedicated Success Coach, she relied on her experience as an IT project manager to improve her clients’ profitability through focused productivity and time management tools & techniques. As a solopreneur, she understood the demands of running a small business, and provided support through her services and blog.

WHERE DOES CONFIDENCE COME FROM?

Do you remember when you first started out your career? How exciting it was, and also how scary?

Exciting because you were on the road to independence. No longer a student or dependent on someone else.  In charge of your own destiny!

But, I’m willing to bet that in amongst that excitement and enthusiasm there was also a tiny tinge of apprehension, or maybe even fear. A worry that you might not be able to deliver, might not fit in with everyone else in the firm. Perhaps maybe even a fear of saying the wrong thing.

Totally nerve-wracking! Right?

You’re not alone if you have ever felt any of those things. Heck, I can remember my first jobs in London.

First Job

I worked first for a private hotel chain with interests in the Middle East and then for a private Arab bank in the City. The receptionists and PA’s were always beautifully made up with never a hair out of place. Luxury abounded. Rich wooden furnishing. Plush carpets. The smell of wax polish combined with fresh flowers.

No one was called by their first name – I was Miss Van Buerle. People spoke in hushed and reverent tones. We even had a very fancy doorman to open the door to the building.

I wore high heels, kept my nails manicured at all times, even if it meant reapplying polish very late at night. I got up bright and early to put on my make up and carried a little kit for reapplication during the day. I also had a dry cleaning bill that was not funny!

The high heel shoes pinched my toes. I had to be careful on the London Tube escalators not to get the heels stuck between the grooves. I was never actually comfortable in that workplace. I felt that I was always “on”.

Fast Forward

Fast forward many years later.

Confident_Michelle_Hanton
ThinkLab, Darwin – polar opposite to City of London private banks

As I write this, I’m sitting in a co-shared workspace – The ThinkLab – dressed in a pair of jeans wearing a comfy pair of flats. Sure, I’ve got a slick of lipstick on, but the rest of my face and nails are bare today.

How do I feel?  Very comfortable. Not just in the physical sense, but also in the emotional sense. I feel confident. I am confident in myself and my abilities. I trust myself.

So where does confidence come from?

My first mentor was a most unlikely sort. We met when I started working at one of the oldest private Swiss banks (established in 1796).  She was the office manager, controlling everything that happened in that office, including the two bosses. She’d field calls from girlfriends, chastising over expense accounts being run up during weekends away in Europe, ordering flowers for the wife, and juggling everything else in that office. She was truly talented.

Lorraine was a Londoner. Born in the East End and a plain-speaking Cockney complete with accent. She also spoke fluent French, hence her role in a Swiss bank. She had no air and graces. Her hair often stood out like a bird’s nest, her stockings sometimes had a ladder in them. Her make-up was not immaculate.

Did she care? Not a fig! She was authentic and the absolute soul of discretion.

This woman was highly respected and trusted. From her, I learnt that it was okay to be who you really are and that confidentiality is a rare, but highly valuable commodity.  That being true to yourself is what matters. No matter where you are, or what the circumstance, unless you are in tune with your heart centred self, then you’re always going to struggle to feel comfortable and confident.

Gaining Confidence

Confidence should never be mistaken for bravado. Confidence is when you know your stuff and are comfortable with yourself.

Clothes can only do so much. They are actually meaningless, even though they can give you a quick confidence boost – I’m all in favour of power dressing when appropriate!

A spray of a favourite perfume.  Your best purple knickers.  Lucky earrings. Favourite cufflinks. Wearing your power colour.  All these little things can help you feel more at ease, especially if you’re nervous about an event. But they are simply props for the occasion. They are external.

Confidence comes from within

The fear of being rejected, of being thrust into the spotlight can be crippling – but, if you know your stuff you can overcome the fear.  Not easily, but it can be done. I am the living proof of that!

As I’ve grown older, I’ve become much more adept at going with my gut feelings. I have given up worrying about what other people may be thinking. I know that if I remain true to myself, I’ll deliver great outcomes.

When you take the approach that you want to help solve a problem, rather than simply sell a product, you’ll be surprised how that can turn around your business.  People buy people. They always have. There is a need for trust to be built.

Confidence is one of the key components of business success. It cannot be brash. It has to be authentic.

In my book, authenticity plays a key role in how confident and successful you will be. If you are genuine, you will be confident.

Look around at all the people you come into contact with. Take a moment to think about who you consider confident.

What is their magic ingredient? I’m willing to bet it’s the fact that they are comfortable in their own skin and authentic.

Confident people do not need public confirmation or affirmation of their value.

Confidence is a mantle that is easy to wear. It sits comfortably.

Confident people are frequently very generous people too. The SMART Circle closed group on Facebook has a great bunch of highly confident individuals in there who are 100% supportive and believe in paying it forward by sharing experiences and helping each other out with advice.

It’s by no means an exclusive group, and if you’d like to connect, share and gain support, you are most welcome to join us.

To your success!

Michelle

Michelle Hanton is a multi-award winning bespoke business strategist, working internationally as a consultant, coach, speaker and writer. She has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is the former CEO of Lifeline Top End, and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia, a national charity dedicated to the promotion of breast cancer awareness.