What Kind of Networking is Right for You?

Business NetworkingNetworking is an important aspect of business, yet most business owners become wary of networking events and wonder if the time set aside to attend these functions is worth their effort. From my experience, a shift in how we look at networking is required in order to see a return on your investment by way of new business and increased professional contacts.

In order to reframe your experience with building your professional network, there are a few things to remember that will help keep your perspective:

Find your Fit: Whether you participate in Boards of Trade or groups based on your industry or the size of your business, be prepared to take some time to understand what networking avenue is best for you. Networking is not “one-size-fits-all”, and what works for a B2C company may not work for your B2B enterprise. Do your homework and find the right fit for your business goals.

Commit to it: Business owners are busy. If networking is a priority for you, you need to be prepared to invest the time to commit to your networking goals. Attending an event once every couple of months may not yield the results you are looking for because successful networking requires regular contact and attendance. Make a commitment that works with your schedule and understand that the process of networking will be slower if you have less time to devote to it.

Quality vs. Quantity: When you do attend a networking event that you think is a good fit for you, avoid the impulse to talk to every person in the room and collect as many business cards as you can. In an hour or two, you are only capable of making quality connections with a handful of people. Instead, ensure you spend your time making a deeper connection with a few people, asking questions and learning about their business. By focusing on conversations with just a few people, you are building a foundation from which you can uncover how you can each benefit from the other.

Helping vs. Selling: Remembering to focus on mutual benefits cannot be overstated when it comes to networking successfully for your business. You do not want to go into a networking event with the sole purpose of trying to sell your product or service. Instead, try to uncover how you can help the people you engage with. Once you have a built a relationship, it is much easier to bring business in because your contacts will be that much more willing to work with you as a person.

Don’t discount informal networking: Networking doesn’t only occur in a formal structured setting. As a business owner you meet people in social settings and using the “helping vs. selling” approach you can develop new contacts and opportunities.

What kind of networking works for your business? How important is networking to your business, and how do you plan on including it in your schedule? I look forward to your thought below.


Generations Working Together in the Workplace

workplace_generations-442x305How many different generations are represented in your workplace? Depending on size and industry, it is possible for some companies to employ personnel from up to five different generations! Growing up with vastly different value systems and qualities of life, employees from each generation have distinct strengths and challenges, so how do you leverage the skill sets of your team to be as productive as it can be?

Identifying and understanding the profiles of the generations in your workplace is a good place to start:

The Traditionals (born 1933-1945): Employees in this generation were raised in the aftermath of the Great Depression, where they understood how hard work led to increased financial stability and survival. Traditionals embody discipline, self-sacrifice, loyalty and are respectful of authority.

The Baby-Boomers (born 1946-1964): Baby-Boomers were born into a culture of prosperity and affluence after World War II, valuing achievement and embracing an “anything is possible” attitude. Baby-Boomer employees in the workplace are perceived as hardworking and productive and value strong nuclear family life. Perhaps because of their more rigid upbringing, both Traditionals and Baby-Boomers are often rated low in adaptability to change and are highly motivated by health and retirement benefits.

Generation X (born 1965-1979): The first generation where more children grew up with single parents or blended families, Gen-X’ers are known for their independence, resilience and adaptability and are excellent problem-solvers. Because of their independent nature, Gen-X’ers are less likely to be regarded by their peers as team players. This generation also values work flexibility, especially with regards to family and vacation time.

Generation Y/Millennials (born 1980-1995): Highly socialized, technologically savvy and always multi-tasking, Millennials are entering the workplace in droves. This generation often prefers the group setting to individual work, and is most enthusiastic about being promoted and moving up in the ranks. This group is sometimes criticized for being entitled, especially as the world becomes more and more reliant upon technology that Millennials grew up with.

Linksters (born 1995-present): You are less likely to see this generation in your workplace just yet, as they are entering young-adulthood, post-secondary education or the workforce. Even more so than Millennials, Linksters were born into a world where technology was entrenched in their education and where they have known what a smartphone was since they were old enough to walk.

Now that you have a better sense of some of the strengths and challenges of the different generations in your office, how do you manage your team so that your business is the most productive it can be?

Invest in Training: In order to help your employees understand where they fit within your organization and with each other, Personality Assessment Training and Team-Building Training can provide a great outlet for communication and promoting self-awareness. Personality assessment encourages your employees to be aware of their own strengths and challenges and fosters an environment where emotional intelligence is as highly valued as intellectual intelligence. In combination with team training, your employees understand how they can leverage their strengths and weaknesses with those of their peers.

Forge connections: As you can see from the profiles above, some of the traits specific to one group can be highly complementary to another’s, such as the Baby-Boomers’ productivity and the Millennials’ technological knowledge. Try creating an environment for strategic mentorship, matching personalities that you believe would learn well from each other, where both employees feel like their skills are respected.

Assign tasks strategically:  Passionate employees are productive employees. When it’s possible, assign tasks that tap into what they love doing and what they are good at. Communicate openly about why you chose them for a specific task so that they are consistently made aware of their value in your eyes.

Find the appropriate motivation: If Baby-Boomers and Gen-X’ers, for example, value work-flexibility, family life and benefits, these are tools you can use to motivate their performance and achievements. For Millennials, make sure you communicate what they can do to improve in their role and how they can earn that promotion they are looking for. Try adjusting your style to tap into the distinct motivations of each group.

The whole is always greater than the sum of its parts, so no matter how much changes across the decades, collaboration will never be outdated. Invest in your employees and promote an environment of mutual appreciation for what each individual brings to the organization. Do you know of any other ways you can support your employees with regards to generational differences? I look forward to your thoughts below!

Sources:

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/183720

http://www.reliableplant.com/Read/26581/Five-generations-work-together

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-millennials-gen-x-and-boomers-shape-the-workplace-2013-9

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21586831-businesses-are-worrying-about-how-manage-different-age-groups-widely-different


How Social Media Savvy Are You?

social-media-jigsaw-via-greyweedWith some platforms celebrating almost a decade in existence, it’s safe to say that Social Media is here to stay. Not only has it connected us to friends and family all over the world, it is now engrained in business practices and has become an essential part of connecting with our audiences.

How familiar are you with the different social platforms, either personally or professionally? Do you have a LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter account? Do you post or search for videos on YouTube? Does your company post a corporate blog?

To have a little fun, and show us where the gaps in our understanding may lay when it comes to this new medium, try your hand at the quiz I’ve assembled that asks, How Social Media Savvy Are You?

  1. According to Business Insider, 5 million affluent investors are using social media to research financial decisions. True or False.
  2. Which day is the most popular day for tweets: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. (Choose one)
  3. What is the symbol for hashtag?
  4. You can use a hashtag to mention another user on Twitter. (True or False)
  5. What is the maximum amount of characters you can use in a Tweet?
  6. A live-tweet is the action of sending tweets in order to comment on an event happening live. (True or False)
  7. Google is the most popular search engine. What is the second most popular? Yahoo, YouTube, Bing or Vista. (Choose one)
  8. Which social media platform tops Google as the most trafficked site? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube. (Choose one)
  9. A Facebook Page is a profile specifically made for businesses, brands and celebrities. (True or False)
  10. Someone who likes a Facebook Page is called a: Liker, Follower, Fan or Connection. (Choose one)
  11. You can permanently erase a social media post. (True or False)
  12. LinkedIn is NOT:
    • A) The leading online professional directory of individuals and companies
    • B) An online resume
    • C) A platform to share online photo albums
    • D) A networking tool

Quiz Answers:

  1. True
  2. Tuesday
  3. Symbol for hashtag is #
  4. False. Use their handle @User to mention another Twitter user
  5. 140
  6. True
  7. YouTube
  8. Facebook
  9. True
  10. Fan
  11. False
  12. C: You cannot share online photo albums on LinkedIn

How did you do?

If you didn’t do as well as you hoped, don’t write off your social media skills just yet! There are plenty of articles and YouTube videos out there that can take you through the ins and outs of each platform so that you can make use of each tool effectively. Ultimately, your engagement with these tools will support your brand’s online presence so that, at every touch point, your audience receives a consistent message.

If anything, the growth and prevalence of social media in business has shown us that our learning is never done – we must constantly be adding to our inventory of knowledge and adapting with the times, even if it is uncomfortable at first.

Has your business fully incorporated social media into your business strategy? Are you still struggling to see the value of social media to your business? I look forward to you thoughts below.