Friday, March 24, 2017

The 5 Least Important Skills for Networking Success

Recently, I wrote about better ways to network, based on a survey I conducted of almost 3,400 people around the world. In the survey, I asked participants what they thought the top characteristics of a great networker were. However, knowing what not to do can sometimes be as important as knowing what to do in developing a skill. In this article, I will walk you through the five least important skills needed to be a great networker, according to the respondents of this survey.

Over the last 30 years, I’ve found that most people assume that being an extrovert is an advantage in networking. But let’s take a good look at the bottom five characteristics. Four out of the five least important skills to be a great networker had something to do with being outspoken or bold -- characteristics more aligned with an extrovert than an introvert.


Based on the survey, the fifth least important skill for networking was being fearless. Extroverts tend to be more fearless and confident, but when it came to identifying the skills of a great networker, this was not very important to an overwhelming majority of people.

Asking for the sale.

The fourth least important skill was asking for the sale. Extroverts almost always ask for the sale quicker than an introvert does. Yet, this is a skill that most people think is not very important in order to be a great networker.


The third least important skill was being a self-promoter. This particular result seems completely counter-intuitive at first. How can self-promotion not be an important skill for great networkers? Well, the answer to that is easy. In order for networking to be effective, it has to be about the relationship, not the transaction. Many, many people get this one wrong. I think it is the single biggest reason why some people hate networking. They go to a networking event and have one person after another try to sell to them. Very few introverts can be called self-promoters, so this is one more example where being an introvert may not hurt your chances to network well.


The second least important skill was directness. This is an interesting one because being direct in your business dealings is often considered to be an attribute. However, when it comes to networking, it seems to be viewed more as pushy, which is clearly not a strength in building relationships. Again, extroverts are more inclined to come across as direct than introverts are.

Social media savvy.

The least important characteristic of a great networker, based on this survey, was in many ways very surprising. It was an attribute that could easily apply to both introverts and extroverts. It was being social media savvy. I included this in the survey because I have found that many people think that networking online is pretty much all they need to do to network effectively. I believe that online networking has great value, but it does not replace face-to-face networking. However, even I was surprised that it ranked dead last by 3,400 business people all around the world.

After viewing this data, I thought surely, millennials would rank this characteristic much higher. So, I compared the survey responses of people under 30 to this result. I discovered that there was in fact, a difference. The under 30 crowd ranked this characteristic second to last! Seriously, second to the last. Even millennials understand that social media skills are not an indicator of great networking ability.

So, if you want to be a great networker, understand the essentials of better networking as well as these much lesser important skills. The combination of knowing what to do, and what not to do, will help you to network like a pro.

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Image Credit: Shuttershock

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
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Join WNFP Communities!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

6 Things You Must Do Before Your Next Networking Event

Selena Soo is a publicity and business strategist who helps experts, authors and coaches, build their brand and increase their influence. The founder of Impacting Millions was on a recent episode of Pat Flynn's Smart Passive Income Podcast, where she shared her top tips for networking with influencers, but these tips merely scratched the surface of her deep knowledge of networking, relationship building and publicity.

Below are some of her top tips for preparing for a networking event in order to maximize the number and quality of connections you make.

1. Write Down Your Goals For The Event

Before you head out to a meet-up or happy hour, get clear on your objectives so you can optimize your actions both before you go and once you're there. "Take time to think through why you're attending, who you want to meet, and what you'd like to achieve," Soo says.

Write down what you're hoping to accomplish, and the types of people you're hoping to connect with. If there's an attendee list, you can note specific individuals you want to meet, but even without a list, you can create "types" of people you want to connect with; potential clients, local media, fellow podcasters, etc. Consider exploring why those goals are important to you to make sure your objectives are clear. Without clear goals, you won't be able to measure if you've been successful.

2. Research The People You Want To Meet

If you're able to find the names of speakers and fellow attendees that you'd be interested in meeting, you need to do some homework so you have a basis for those introductory conversations. Arming yourself with information maximizes the chance that those conversations will be productive and memorable.

"Google them. Look up their LinkedIn page. See if they have a personal or business website. Look at their Facebook page or profile to learn about what's important to them or what they're working on," Soo suggests. "Knowing even just a few tidbits about their lives and business will help you spark a connection right away."

3. Reach Out In Advance

"No need to wait for the event to start connecting," Soo says. If you've researched the folks you're most interested in meeting, you can send them a personal email to let them know that you'll be there as well, and you're interested in connecting.

If you aren't able to track down specific contact information (or even if you are!) consider posting to your social accounts using the event hashtag that you'll be attending the event and you're interested in meeting like-minded folks. If the event is a large conference with an app or a designated Facebook Group or other community, consider posting an introduction there as well, to maximize your visibility with fellow attendees.

4. Plan Your Outfit

Yep. You read that right. "Consider planning your outfit at least a day or two before the event so you can put your best foot forward," Soo says. "You want your appearance to send the right message about your business."

Choose something clean, professional, wrinkle-free and appropriate for the event theme and location. If your event requires travel, be sure to check the weather so you're properly dressed for conditions, and consider a removable outer layer, since many event spaces will crank up the air conditioning to compensate for having so many people packed into a small space.

"In today's social media-driven age, there's a good chance you'll get tagged in someone's photo or video," Soo notes, "So you want to look your best."

5. Create A Contact Information Strategy

"One problem that often arises from meeting new people is that their contact info ends up all over the place," Soo says. "You get a business card from one person, a scribbled name and number on a napkin from another, and you write someone else's info on a random page in your event binder."

If the information you collect is disorganized or inconsistent, it's unlikely you'll be able to do meaningful follow-up, so spend some time figuring out how you'll collect and keep track of contact information.

Soo suggested designating a pocket or envelope as the sole place you'll put business cards so they're all in one place, and using a single notebook or sheet of paper to collect any other contact information not on a business card.

6. Be Prepared To Talk About Your Work

"Because people will likely ask about what you do, it's helpful to have in mind three interesting or compelling talking points about your business," Soo says. "These should relate to your ideal client in some way and show them how you help people."

When compiling these talking points, focus on those things that make you and your work most unique and keep it concise. The goal is to be interesting and memorable, but not to give a monolog.

"You don't only want to talk about yourself," Soo advises. "You can use these as jumping off points for back-and-forth conversations. This means asking them questions about what they do, and what brought them to the event."

Image Credit: Getty images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

3 Common Email Marketing Mistakes

About half of all email marketing campaigns suffer from these easily avoidable errors.

I've been writing about email marketing frequently lately because email marketing is the last form of outbound marketing that still generates sales leads.

An email marketing campaign is useless, of course, if nobody opens your email. Thus it's important to know the five elements that determine if a marketing email is opened:

    1.    When it's sent. Emails sent during heavy working hours are less likely to be opened than those send off-hours.

    2.    Who's it from. Emails from strangers are less likely to be opened than those from colleagues.

    3.    The SUBJECT line. Emails with long, confusing SUBJECT lines are less likely to be opened than those with short, relevant ones.

    4.    The salutation. Emails that being with formalities ("Dear Mr. Jones") are less likely to be opened than those that begin informally ("Jane,").

    5.    The teaser. Emails where the first 10 to 20 words are meaningless are less likely to be opened those that begin meaningfully.

Those five elements are important because they're what appears in the INBOX in most email programs. The example below are screen-captured from Outlook, but the same problems were obvious when they appeared on my iPhone.

1. Meaningless warnings.

 In this example, the sender has wasted valuable "real-estate" on the INBOX display by displaying a message that's only meaningful after I've opened the email.

What's worse, the message implies that if I do open the email, I'll have trouble viewing it, which is not the best idea to plant in my mind when I'm considering whether to do so.

I'm pretty sure that this "If you're having trouble viewing" message is the default for one of the popular email marketing software vendors, proving that they are clueless.

I might also note that while the SUBJECT line is intended to be intriguing, it comes off rather hostile. The entire effect screams "Delete this and save yourself grief!"

2. Repeating the subject line.

In this example, the SUBJECT line is strong and compelling. Who wouldn't want to know how to create sales champions?

However, the example wastes the INBOX "real estate" by simply repeating the SUBJECT line. I already know that part. Do I really need to see it again.

In addition, the "Hello" is unnecessary and the "This is just a quick reminder about" message is uninspired and clipped off.

Yes, I might open this based upon the strong SUBJECT line (and the fact that I know the sender), but overall, the teaser is just being wasted.

3. Obviously fakery.

This one is truly lame. Notice the space between the "Hi" and the comma? That was where the email program was supposed to plug my first name.

Apparently the list this marketer is using didn't have my first name in a break-out-able field, so they just went forward without it.

That gaffe is immediately followed by a fake (and therefore insulting) statement of concern about my health and similarly fake enthusiasm about... whatever.

Combine all that an opaque and self-interest SUBJECT line and you've got an email marketing campaign that gives new meaning to the word "meh."

Image Credit: Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!