Quick Tips to up your networking game ASAP

My Journey to Alignment.png

If you’re job searching or business building, you’ll find yourself at a lot of networking events this Fall. Just about every group I participate in LOVES hosting events where guests have a chance to mingle and meet each other. Whether you’re new to town or looking to improve your skills, networking can feel tedious at times, and even exhausting. If you’re looking for a reason to brace the cold, perhaps it’s time to sharpen your skills to get the most out of that time. With your calendar fast piling up this fall, it’s a GREAT time to remind yourself of the quick tips to help you network like a Pro and get the right connections you need.

Here are my top tips for upping your networking game ASAP:

1. Make sure you define what success looks like before you head into the event.

If you need to meet at least two new prospects or connect with someone who knows someone at a particular organization, know that ahead of time. By knowing what your goal is, you’re much more likely to walk in with a plan, and have a more focused (not narrow) conversation with the person you meet. This isn’t to say the whole conversation should be focused on your goal - but in case you find yourself forgetting what to bring up or what brought you to the event - make sure you come prepared!

2. If you’re walking into a room cold, meaning you don’t know a soul in the room, you’re doing it wrong.

Look up the attendees or ask the host for a list of attendees ahead of time. You’ll have a much easier time thinking of what to say and to who before you get there.

3. Walking into a room and moving from group to group can seem daunting but it doesn’t need to be.

When you walk in, take note of the room, where the bar/food is, other tables, and take note of how the crowd is dispersed. If you’re a fan of talking to groups, focus on where those groups are, or if you prefer one on one conversation position yourself accordingly. When the conversation ends, know where to head next, even if that means the bar or the bathroom!

4. The biggest failure point for people is following up.

Pro-tip to try at your next event: Tell the person you want to genuinely connect with how and when you plan to follow up by. By directing the follow up and action you are essentially committing yourself to the follow up - and much more likely to remember it. Use that momentum and follow up with them exactly as planned to remain reliable and courteous of your time and energy.

Share your experiences in the comments below!


The two words you need to banish at work

My Journey to Alignment (2).png

This week’s post hits VERY close to home. I come across people who overuse this phrase time and time again. It used to irk me every time I heard it, then I started to hear my clients say this to me, and I would make it a point to coach them through this habit to help them see how this one small phrase is getting in their way at work....

"I'm late, I'm sorry!"

“That shouldn’t have happened, I’m sorry!”

“That’s all my fault, I’m sorry for that”

In the workplace, there are everyday occurrences that can spur the line, “I’m sorry”. What you may not realize, is that by using that phrase, you’ve given your boss and coworkers reason to look down on you. It may seem hard to believe, saying I’m sorry is undermining your credibility and your confidence.

There are two types of work situations where you may find yourself saying (or wanting to say) I’m sorry.

1.     When it isn’t really your fault – Say the metro was delayed, your dog ate your powerpoint slides, or maybe you woke up with the biggest migraine this side of town – all of these things are part of LIFE, and not a reflection of your ignorance. For times when life just seems to throw coffee on your white shirt, or a giant puddle before you even step off your curb, this is called life, and it isn’t something you brought upon yourself!

2.     When you dropped the ball – If you work on a team, there are going to be times when you are passed a task to complete, and somehow someway you forgot one small detail and the project got delayed. Although you are the one who missed the step, remember that you’re also learning, and not always fully aware of when you make those slipups. Being extra hard on yourself for forgetting doesn’t change the past (but we will save this for another blog post!)

3.     When it’s a serious issue that you objectively see – serious workplace issues happen, and by saying “I’m sorry” before you explain what you’ve witnessed, you are taking the hot air out of your balloon. There’s nothing to apologize for when it comes to reporting HR related issues at work!

You may be thinking, well if it’s my fault, I SHOULD apologize for what happened. Not necessarily. Rather than think of apologizing for a mix-up or act of God, turn your mind towards the other person. Instead of saying I’m sorry, say “thank you” to them. Thank them for being understanding or covering you when you needed to run inside and change your shirt with the coffee stain, or when you forgot to add the updated text to the bottom of your report.

By shifting yourself to thank you, you’re the team player- you’re showing that even mistakes deserve some wiggle room. If the roles were reversed, you would be the one understanding of the other person’s predicament – and it’s much easier to be understanding when you know the other person appreciates you.

Take the I’m sorry’s and make the decision to leave them out of the workplace, you’ll feel more confident, happy and build a much stronger team in the long run!


Happiness & Grit

My Journey to Alignment (1).png

Some of us develop a personality that attaches itself to goals, whether personal or professional. There’s something about goal setting, knowing where you’re heading, that gives you drive, purpose, and a sense of achievement when it’s been done. What falls off of our radar, is how to let go of the path we think we need to take in order to be successful.

They say the key to achieving your biggest goals is breaking everything down into smaller steps, that are time bound in order to measure and track your progress- what they don’t tell you in this theory is how to account for the sways in the process. Once something in your life goes wrong, i.e. your schedule shifts due to competing demands it can feel devastating and make you even feel guilty for not staying on track with something. It’s funny how for millennials we are known as the generation to do things the way we want them, yet we stick to rigor and effort much like the previous generations.

If our parents are telling us to be happy, how can life, constantly being thrown at you, actually make you happy along the journey?

Think rebellion. That disruptive movement that hyper alerts you to an issue, problem, challenge, and aligns your thinking and focus on something that really matters to you. I like to think of our distractions and life happenings as the moment for a little rebelling.

Here’s a great example, I run my coaching practice on top of my full-time job, and with a new house and new baby due this Winter, my priorities went from balancing sessions and meetings to a whole new number of planning activities and a body that simply cannot keep up with the physical demands of getting it all done. All of the activities, goals, and milestones I aimed to hit this Fall are basically up in the air.

In many ways, my inner critic is quite unhappy with this – it’s been telling me that things need to go a certain way, and sometimes getting gritty and getting the job done is what’s needed. The voice can get so loud that it creates bubbling frustration, and I need to simply write in order to get ideas out of my head when I can’t execute or do something.

When you have a lot going on in your life, it’s easy to buy into this voice – after all you’re used to achieving, getting what you’ve worked so hard for, and nothing can stop you if you put your mind to it.

What I’ve loved about having all of this happening at the same time is that it’s given me a lot of permission to have fun and disrupt everything in my life for the better.

It feels like a rebellion from the “typical” in my life – the constant good habits, predictable outcomes, and rewards. Now I have a whole new set of challenges and priorities that I need to work through – and choosing to have fun rather than to be overwhelmed.

Choosing to be happy is choosing fun, rebellion, peace, moments, distraction, and giving yourself what you need to feel human. When we give ourselves permission to step away from the original goals, you may find that your new ones are even more important. For me, I’m transitioning into a whole new world of goals, responsibilities, and that requires a lot of mistakes and distractions. I open myself up to these things by inviting the change and choosing to have fun with it – once habits have been disrupted you have the opportunity to have fun, to loosen yourself up to stretch into the next part of your life, no matter how big or small it is.


Is your Career Brand a Yaris or Tesla?


So many times when I go to networking events, I meet young talented professionals who have a resume of achievements and when I asked them about who they are- they give a lackluster response. Why do many of us feel proud of our accomplishments yet shy away from talking about what makes your brand unique? Yes, I said it- your brand.

Not to put a superficial title on it, but we all have a personal brand that combines our unique gifts with where we want to take our careers (whether in a small business or working in a particular industry). Knowing what your brand is and learning how to communicate that to an audience can help you stand out from the crowd and connect faster with opportunities and connections that you’re looking for. One of my clients described her challenge with branding as knowing where to start- she wanted to reframe and create a new brand to help her with her approach for finding a new job. At first, she described it as superficial, but as she learned more during our session, she began to see that it’s really being about your truth, and learning more about who you really are.

Why does branding matter?

Have you ever been to a networking event and the person you are talking with starts to drift off from your conversation? Maybe they look around the room (as if looking for their long lost friend), and it seems difficult to hold their attention - you aren’t imagining things, it’s their attention span. In a city like Washington D.C. (or another metropolitan area) people are constantly distracted even when they are in a conversation- their phone is buzzing with alerts, the room is loud, other people are walking around, t.v.’s are on, and there’s a lot of items on the to-do list! In order to engage someone quickly and effectively, using a branding statement can help you stay on that person’s mind long after your conversation ends. Branding in and of itself is catchy and interesting, so it’s about taking your achievements and ambitions and packaging that into a bite size sentence or two that can help you communicate with ease.

What is a personal brand?

Everyone has a brand - it’s what makes up our professional career and our unique talents. What we don’t do is clarify this brand and use it to our advantage. Many people get the impression that a brand is something superficial, or reserved for people in the media/communications industry. This simply isn’t the truth- anyone in any industry can craft a brand that clarifies their message and invites people to learn more about you and stay connected with you.

The clearer your brand, the more connections you gain.

What kind of brands are there?

Small, big, short, long, brand can encompass any length or scope of resume and interest area of just about anyone! The limits that you create for your particular industry/sector or interest area can be broken down into the following:

You either have a Tesla or a Yaris brand

What in the world do I mean by that? It means that across every type of job, interest area, level of experience, knowledge, it all boils down to being flavored or plain. Every person has the ability to create an engaging branding statement that shows off their unique abilities and their personality. The reason I use this reference is simple: Tesla and Yaris are two completely legitimate cars that serve basically the same principle- they help you get from point A to point B. The similarities, however, stop there.

From a branding perspective, Tesla stands aside as a specific niche car for certain types of customers. The brand itself relies on its niche market- it is successful because it is only marketed and branded towards specific individuals. Their target audience is defined narrowly, and no matter who they are talking to- you know how Tesla is marketed and branded, regardless of whether or not you actually want to purchase the car.

That’s the advantage of the flavored brand- it doesn’t care if the intended audience is always reached, it intends that when someone who IS their target audience hears it- they will know how, when, and where to buy the car.

On the other end, your brand can also be plain, or a Yaris (no judgment to the Yaris!) it is a car that’s marketed and branded as an everyday car with a very little monetary entry point that almost anyone can buy. Without the special flair and niche branding, those who buy the Yaris are buying it simply for the convenience and the price. There aren’t long lines of people looking to reserve a car before it comes out- they are widely available, online and in stores. The plain branding of the car makes it attractive for those who prioritize the key attributes that the Yaris has- but it isn’t sold as exclusive.

What makes your brand flavored, similar to the Tesla, is to not shy away from describing who you really are- and what you do. Whether it’s moving into a new interesting career, or boosting your brand to be more exciting, look at Tesla as an example of how to market yourself at events. Exclusivity, confidence, and passion are the key traits of a flavored brand.

So how do I bring your brand to a networking event?

The next time you are out networking, remember your unique Tesla brand:

  1. Don’t be afraid to use exciting words when you talk about yourself

  2. Be sure to include both a professional reference as well as a personal one

  3. Less is more- leave room when you are talking for the other person to ask you questions, get them involved in the conversation

  4. Practice your branding statement- write out what’s unique and interesting about you and say it over and over and over and over again. And then again :)

  5. Don’t shy away from your unique traits and personality quirks- these are relatable, interesting, and help connect you to like-minded authentic people- focus on the quality of your connections rather than the quantity

The next time you are out and about, pay attention to those networkers who are rocking the room, listen to what they say, how they engage, and especially listen for their brand. Those who are building successful networks will have an engaging and unique branding statements. Continue to build on yours using your own truth and share it with me on social media and look for upcoming workshops where I talk about all things career branding and networking using @leaberrycoaching.