Avoiding Negativity Online

Avoiding Negativity Online

Networking online is a great thing. It helps you stay connected with your peers and can make working from home a little less lonely. However, there are some pitfalls to networking online.

On the internet you don’t have face-to-face interaction with people. You also have a larger amount of people to deal with at any one time. Most of the people you’ll meet are anonymous and this anonymity can often create a feeling of freedom in people. Meaning they may not moderate the things they say and often times may behave completely different to how they would behave offline. This can lead to a lot of negativity and often harshness.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid the negative situations that sometimes creep up in the online world.

#1 - Find the right networking group. If you love to visit a specific forum but find that you always leave there feeling worse than when you first logged in, it may be time to cut your losses and find a new group.

Some forums can be very exciting and fast moving but that also tends to draw a large variety of members. At the worst of times, people may get insulting or downright mean. This isn’t really a situation you want to be in, specifically when you need to stay positive in building your business.

The bottom line here is that if you don’t feel good, you should move on. Listen to your gut instincts about what you’re feeling and don’t worry if the specific forum seems to be “the place” to be – if the negativity is too much for you, you’ll be better off building your network elsewhere.

#2 - Read between the lines. Often times, when people write online what they say can be misinterpreted as “harsh” or “negative” when it may not be the case. Remember, online we can’t see people’s gestures or facial expressions so it may be worth not reading too much into what someone is saying.

If you’re in doubt you can always ask them to explain what they mean. You may find they didn’t mean to sound negative in the first place.

#3 – Find a mastermind group. Mastermind groups can be a comforting place to find support and build a strong network, as long as you choose a group of like-minded individuals. Researching and taking the time to find the right mastermind group is worth the time, as the right group may help your business grow in leaps and bounds.

A good mastermind group is worth its weight in gold. You’ll be able to connect with people who are positive and there to help each other. The negativity and playground games get left behind and you can get down to the business of building your business.

#4 – Ignore the situation. There is always someone who ruins it for others. Take the strength away from negative types by simply ignoring them. Enjoy your networking group and look over the few bad apples. With any luck, they’ll get tired and go find a different playground to spend time in.

#5 – Build yourself up. Negativity can be found everywhere we look for it. So perhaps it’s time to look the other way – to positivity. Work on yourself first by visualizing and living the life you want to live. Stay positive about your business and you’ll attract more like-minded people your way, making the negative ones seem insignificant.

Getting the Most out of Business Events

networkingAttending business events is an important aspect of boosting your business's profile. Business events give you the opportunity to meet potential customers, clients, partners and more. It's important to keep in mind how to get the most out of business events as you choose the events to attend.

Remember Why - It's important to remember why you are attending business events. Knowing why you are attending will go far in helping you choose the right events to attend. Not all events will be right for your goals.

Don't Be Cheap - Take business cards that accurately reflect your business. It's not the time to get the free cards or to be cheap. Once you leave that event, all the people you make contact with will have to remember you from that card.

Be Prepared - Practice your 30-second elevator speech so that you can accurately, and on the spot, tell people what you do such that they understand what it is that you do. If you can come up with a memorable way to explain your business, all the better.

Take Control - They say that the person in the power position is the one who is going to put out their hand first and meet people. Not only that, it's important that you be the one to ask open-ended questions to the people that you meet. The more you let people talk about themselves, the more they will remember you.

Make Meetings Purposeful - Meeting fewer people is better than meeting a bunch of people that you won't remember. Try taking some notes on the back of each business card that you receive so that you can use that later to jog your memory.

Dress the Part - Each event has its own style, so it's important to do a little recon to find out how people normally dress. If this is an often-repeated event you can likely find photographs of others who have attended. For the most part, business attire is expected at business events. Dress to make an impression.

Be a Resource - One of the best ways to ingratiate yourself to those that you meet is to become a resource for them. If you can recommend another person to do a job for them, even if you can't do it yourself, they'll call you again.

Follow Up - After each event, always follow up with an email, note or card. Find them on LinkedIn.com, or other business-related social media. Googling people you meet is not stalking; it's going to help you learn more about them so that you can know how to approach them when it comes to getting business.

Evaluate Yourself - After each event, look back on your performance and write down what went right and what could have been better. This is an important component of any business event because it will make you better.

You cannot understand the value of attending business events unless you can understand the value of networking. You also need to understand the market you are in and the value that the people within that market place on business meetings.

There are so many different business events today to choose from, so be sure to do your homework before attending just any meeting. Find out if your target audience is there, or if there are people there who offer complementary products or services to your same audience before you bother wasting money on attending. If you do all that, you'll be successful at every business event you attend.

Networking Tips for Introverted Entrepreneurs

Written by: Milissa Harding

Although networking is an important aspect of building a business, many quiet-natured entrepreneurs cringe at the thought of attending networking events, and would actually prefer to skip out on going to another event instead of enduring the uncomfortable, awkward and sometimes "fake" atmosphere that many of us have experienced.  I know, because I used to feel this.  One of the reasons why introverted entrepreneurs dislike networking events is because there are simply too many people! There's the pressure to talk with everyone, get to know everyone, "work the room" and collect all of these business cards, but it can feel so inauthentic and pretentious.....UNLESS you know how to navigate the scene in the right way that feels good, and most of us haven't been taught how to do that.

This week, I want to invite you to let go of the need to interact with everyone you meet at a networking event.  You don't need to have a conversation with everyone. You don't need everyone's business card.  You don't need to end up exhausted and drained from trying to connect with everyone.  All you need is ONE.  All you need is to connect with just one person, and to feel good about that connection.  That's it.  Imagine creating a community over time of people that you have come to know very well, as a result of investing your time and energy wisely in those relationships.  I don't know about you, but I would prefer connecting deeply with one person at a time instead of casually getting to know a whole bunch of people. Here's how you do it...

1.  Before attending your next networking event, create an intention around how you want to feel during and after the event.

2.  Get clear around the type of person you would enjoy connecting with at the event.  This could be a referral partner, potential client, a service provider you need, etc.

3.   Remind yourself that you are focussing on connecting meaningfully with just one person at this event.  Of course, this doesn't mean that you're planning to ignore everyone else 🙂  , but having this intention will allow you to feel more in control and confident, which in turn will help you to enjoy getting to know this person much more.  Positive connections are key!

To receive the rest of the 5-part series on this topic of Networking for Introverts, sign up at www.embraceyouandyourbiz.com.

Milissa Harding is a Mindset Coach for Introverted Entrepreneurs. She supports shy and introverted entrepreneurs through her step-by-step system which shows them exactly how to grow a business in a way that fully aligns with who they are, instead of what they've been taught that they "should" do. As a result, her clients experience the ease, joy and success in their business that they truly deserve. Learn more at www.embraceyouandyourbiz.com

Effective Networking

by Lori Padgett

According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, a network is a “group, system, etc. of interconnected or cooperating individuals.”

Choosing An Event/Group

  • Visit as many groups as possible that spark your interest. Notice the tone and attitude of the group. Do the people sound supportive of one another? Does the leadership appear competent? Many groups will allow you to visit two times before joining.
  • Attend events consistently. Going just once every few months is almost a waste of time for networking purposes. Building business relationships takes time and patience.

Being Prepared

  • Have a clear understanding of what you do and why, for whom, and what makes you special or different from others doing the same thing. You must first have a clear understanding of what you do before you can articulate it to others.
  • Establishing and building relationships, not hard selling, is the key to successful networking. Be prepared to share your expertise and contacts.
  • Crucial to your success is that you treat networking as an exchange of ideas, information and experience. You are not selling or simply telling or “sponging” off of others for your own benefit only. Be generous in sharing your talents, experiences, and ideas, and always be respectful of those around you.
  • Keep in mind that networking is about being genuine and authentic, building trust and relationships, and seeing how you can help others.
  • Make people feel important, in order to make yourself important to them.
  • To avoid being tongue-tied when you try to start a conversation with someone you don’t know, prepare a self-introduction that is clear, interesting, and well delivered. It shouldn’t be longer than 8-10 seconds. Although practicing your introduction might at first seem silly and artificial, it will eventually help you make an introduction that sounds natural, confident, and smooth.
  • Dress for the occasion. This could mean dressing the way that your customers dress or dressing the way that they expect you to dress. First impressions are made in a matter of seconds.
  • Have your own name tag with business name made up – it’s inexpensive and shows professionalism. It also shows that you are prepared and pay attention to detail.
  • Organize yourself. Always carry a pen and paper with you during an event to jot down miscellaneous information that you may need to remember. (i.e.: a reminder to send a contact further information about your product or services). Never, never, never, write on a business card that a contact has given to you. Many people view this as disrespectful and bad manners, and you can never tell if the person that you have just met will be someone who views it this way.
  • Never leave home without your business cards!

Prior to the Event

  • Let preparation and practice be your guide. Spend some time planning your conversation generators.
  • In many networking events, you will find yourself with time to “mingle” among the other attendees before the formal program begins. It may be beneficial for you to spend some time planning and preparing how you will “work the room” to get the most from your efforts.

At the Event

  • Arrive early. It’s much harder to break in on conversations when you arrive late.
  • Wear your name tag on the right side to provide an easy sight-line to your name when shaking hands.
  • Not sure how to approach someone? Simply smile, nod your head, walk forwards with hand stretched out and say, “I just wanted to come over and say hello.” (Sounds daft but it works.)  Say your name clearly. “My name is (your name in full). It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
  • Approach and introduce yourself to people standing alone, or groups of three or more. When two people are talking together, there is a possibility that they know each other and are engaging in a personal conversation. However, their body language (i.e.: are they facing each other as they talk?), will give you a good indication if they are approachable.
  • Have an effective handshake. You’ve probably been on the receiving end of at least one “bone-crusher” and one “limp fish.” Practice your handshake to avoid giving one of those yourself! Also, always keep your right hand free, and hold drinks in your left hand to avoid cold, wet greetings.
  • Start with small talk.
  • Use an “elevator” speech: describe who you are or what you do in ten seconds or less
  • Ask open-ended questions in networking conversations. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. This form of questioning opens up the discussion and shows listeners that you are interested in them.
  • Ask “feel good’ questions like, “How did you get started?” or “What do you consider a challenging project?” You will learn a lot about your contact’s business, while showing interest in them as a person.
  • LISTEN CAREFULLY, and don’t monopolize the conversation.
  • When appropriate, offer a business card, and ask the other person for one of his or hers. Sometimes, it is more appropriate to exchange business cards only when you depart from one another. Whenever you give a business card, ask for a business card. When given one, don’t just take it and place it in your pocket. Make the person feel important by looking at their card for a few seconds. You might see something that could be a topic of discussion. . Confirming the information is a nice way to engage. Then place it in your wallet or in your jacket pocket.
  • Some people give 2 business cards as standard practice. That way, their contact has one card to keep and one card to pass on to someone else, or perhaps to keep in a different location.
  • Don’t stay too long in one place. After eight to ten minutes of conversation with a contact, excuse yourself with a pleasantry such as, “It was nice meeting you …
  • Again, take your business cards absolutely EVERYWHERE! Maximize every “per chance” meeting. You never know when you might meet someone who can help you. Family or friends social events could produce unexpected encounters with people. So you’re going to a birthday party for your friend’s child. You never know who you might meet there.

After the Event

  • Once the event is over, your networking doesn’t stop! Be sure to follow up with those people you’ve met, keep in contact, share information and offer to help in any way you can.
  • Be sure to send a written acknowledgement or “Thank You” note to your networking contacts.
  • It’s also a great idea to send a “Thank You” note to the host or sponsors of the event. You will be remembered for it.
  • Call those you meet who may benefit from what you do and vice versa. Express that you enjoyed meeting them, and ask if you could get together and share ideas. You want to build the relationship, so take the first step!
  • Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honor that and your referrals will grow.

Tips For Sit-Down Events

  • Some networking events will provide a meal. It is crucial to practice good table etiquette to make the best impression.
  • At a sit down affair, don’t sit as soon as you get there. Keep moving around and networking as long as possible.
  • At the dinner table, introduce yourself at the beginning of the evening to everyone at your table.  If you are familiar with the others at the table (whether you knew them previous to the event, or have just met them), make the introductions. Proceed as if you are the host of the table.
  • Listen to learn. Start the conversation by asking questions, such as why people are there, what they hope to gain, how they found out about the event, etc.
  • Keep your business cards handy, but not on the table. Do not deal them out impersonally.

Additional Thoughts…

  • Consider volunteering to help out at various networking event. This puts you in a better strategic position for meeting people and passing your business card along. Others might view you differently, if they know you are willing to go the extra mile in helping them. This is a great way to stay visible and give back to groups that have helped you.  Zig Ziglar, one of the most successful sales trainers in the world says “if you help enough people get what they want in life, you will get what you want in life”.
  • Risk rejection – it’s not the end of the world.  Rejection happens to everyone at one point or another. Some individuals may not respond to your introduction in the way you would like. If that happens, don’t take it personally. Politely move on. Maintain an outgoing and friendly attitude and always keep your sense of humour!
  • Never make assumptions about the person you are talking to. Everyone has friends, colleagues, relations and contacts, and one of them might be just the person you need to speak to.
  • Do not hand out anything other than your business cards at an event. If a contact is interested in more information, send them a brochure or other information after the event. This provides you with a great opportunity for a future follow-up with them.
  • Networking involves WORK. With preparation, effort and enthusiasm, you’ll get a great deal out of it.
  • Don’t feel intimidated. It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is. You are dealing with a person. They have the same hopes and fears that you have.
  • Remember you have one mouth and two ears. Use them proportionately and you’ll be well on your way to being a successful networker!

Lori Padgett is the Owner of Apex Administration and can be contacted through her website at:  http://www.apexadministration.com

Fundamentals of Networking

by Sheri Andrunyk

There are so many aspects of personal growth and development.

Meeting new people always adds tremendous value and insight, whether in a personal or professional setting.

  • Building relationships!
  • Be genuine and interested in others!  People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.
  • Give before you get!  You may not be able to exchange business with everyone you meet; however, you can listen and learn about others, so you can refer them business when the opportunity arises.  Most will do the same in return.  You reap what you sow!
  • Set yourself apart!
  • Be willing to ‘share’ what you have to offer!  It’s not enough to say ‘this is what I do’… and ‘hope’ others get it.   Answer ‘why you’ … ‘why your business’? Your prospects and clients are saying “Sell me…! … Educate me; enlighten me… on the benefits… on you… on trying something new or attending an event…”  Make it easy!

People are busy.  They want to know that their business is very important to you; and that you respect their time and can relate to their life.  Strike a kind and effective balance in the way you communicate and connect with them.

Be a ‘breath of fresh air’!  Make her/him feel ‘taken care of’.

Isn’t this what ‘we’ want when we’re the client?

This way, you will enjoy making many new friends along the way…

Sheri Andrunyk is the Founder of Women For Women, Keynote Speaker & Empowerment Coach.  Sheri conducts a “Women in Business Workshop Series” that is open to all women; and also offers uniquely personalized coaching sessions, instilling further confidence and clarity for her clients.  In addition, Sheri is President of Sales for Aloette Cosmetics and provides support and training to her staff of Beauty Specialists.  www.womenforwomen.ca sheri@womenforwomen.ca

Networking 101

Lately there seems to be a lot of talk about how to get your business known and how to find clients. Since September is rolling around before we know it, this might be an opportune time to address networking.

Networking is such a vital part of growing a business, especially a VA business. So what is networking, how and where do you start?

First and foremost, networking is about building relationships. Think about it for a minute. If you were looking for someone to fix your computer or do some work in your home, where would you look? Would you go through the Yellow Pages and then hope that you found someone reliable, who knew their stuff and was the best person to handle your needs? Would you really trust someone that you didn’t really know?

This is what networking is all about. You need to get out there and get yourself known. Once people get to know you and your business then it is easy for them to refer you to others. Why? Because, they have built trust and a relationship with you. They know what type of person you are and what your work ethics are by how you present yourself. This works online and in person.

Now where do you go to network, what groups can I possibly look at and where do you find them?

Here is a few to get you started both online and off:

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The York Business Exchange (YBE) www.ybe.ca

Business Owners Idea Café www.businessownersideacafe.com

The Leapfrog Network www.leapfrognetwork.com

BNI Canada www.bnicanada.ca

eWomen Network www.ewomennetwork.com

Canadian Women’s Business Network www.cdnbizwomen.com

entreWomen www.entrewomen.ca

Canadian Association of Women Executives and Entrepreneurs www.cawee.net

Business Women’s Networking Association  http://www.bwna.biz

Women Entrepreneurs of Canada www.wec.ca

Small Business Forum  www.small-business-forum.com

Company of Women www.companyofwomen.ca

Wings Canada www.wingscanada.com

Ryze Business Networking  www.ryze.com

Linked In www.linkedin.com

International Association of Administrative Professionals www.iaap-hq.org

Canadian Virtual Assistant Connection  www.cvac.ca

Canadian Virtual Assistant’s Network www.canadianva.net

Virtual Assistant’s Networking Forum www.vanetworking.com

Women In A Home Office www.womeninahomeoffice.com

Canadian Federation of Independent Business www.cfib.ca

SOHO Business Group www.soho.ca Business Innovation Group (BIG) www.bignetworking.ca

Business Partnerships http://businesspartnerships.ca

Business Networks http://businesspartnerships.ca

Meetup http://smallbiz.meetup.com

ReferralQuest www.referralquest.net

For other groups, events, meetings and times check out this fabulous website by Jennifer Beale – the Queen of Network. You can even sign up to have meeting and events come right into your mailbox:

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http://www.biznetworknews.com

Remember that networking is an ongoing investment in your business. Think of it as courting your potential clients, it doesn’t happen overnight, it does take time but what lasting relationship doesn’t!  Happy networking!