Tag Archives: Networking

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You Are Your Brand, Your Company’s Brand and Your Client’s Brand

Posted in Best Practices, Susan's Posts, Tips and Tricks

 

You are a brand, and at all times, you are an extension of your brand. Not only are you a brand for yourself, but you also represent the brand reputation of your company and your clients. That’s a lot to take in, but as a professional in the always evolving and incredibly active world of PR, communications, marketing and advertising – we know this fact to be true. What you do, say, post, wear, etc., speaks for more than just you.

Heavy stuff, isn’t it? But, if we already know this, why blog on the topic? Because time-after-time I witness painful personal fails as people get a little too comfortable or have a little too much fun, seemingly not aware that they still represent their team, their company and their clients after 5:00 p.m.

We’re fortunate to work amongst exciting, innovative industries – industries that allow us to step away from our desks to attend networking events, client happy hours and trade shows and events in great locations. We work in a fun industry, so by no means should you eliminate fun from this job – it’s one of the best parts.  In fact, our clients often like working with us because we’re an enjoyable group.

It’s important to simply balance having fun and enjoying yourself with the knowledge that you’re representing your company and clients at all times. Remember: you are always on, and people associate multiple brand reputations with you as a person whether you’re at your desk or not.

So, what can we do to ensure we’re on top of our game as professionals while still enjoying the perks of the industry?

Act with tact: Just as your mother told you: be tactful, considerate, perceptive, polite and responsible. Easy enough, right? Keep in mind that your actions and your words both speak loudly. Keep simple courtesies in mind when networking, when engaging on social media sites and especially when sharing opinions or advice. Keep it clean and don’t be sloppy. Ensure your behavior matches the image your company and clients want portray.

Don’t get too comfortable: Whether you’re with colleagues, clients or other contacts, it’s typically a good move to leave the dire personal stories and experiences to yourself. In short, be friendly, but don’t be too friendly. It’s wonderful to love your clients and associates, but lines can be crossed. Don’t let what you intend to be a private joke or silly, personal story turn into a nightmare after the fact. Word gets around, and you want to come off as professional, even after hours. Don’t permit your actions one night to jeopardize the respect you’ve earned over time. Although you feel comfortable in good company, be careful not to release private information that was intended to be strictly between you and a client. Don’t give your associates and clients a reason to think you’re anything less than fabulous all around. A drink or two might be a great bonding experience, and silly stories can be fun for all – but just keep them clean and appropriate.

Prep as much as possible: It’s fair to say that in this industry, things come up. On any given day you might rush out of the office to assist a client with an interview or meet up with a journalist at an after hours event. So be prepared. Before you leave, take time to think about why you are going, and keep those goals in mind. Pack your business cards, brush up on recent articles, trends and general news that pertain to the industry and your client. Being perceptive and tactful comes in here once again – but so does being fun. You want people to want to work with you. So, before you run out the door in a hurry, take two minutes to think about with whom you’re going to spend time. Maybe you’ll find a funny meme on their Twitter account you can bond over. Who knows? Little things like this make you memorable and enjoyable. You’re more likely to get somewhere with a journalist or a business partner who knows you’re not only intelligent and poised, but also generally informed and fun to be around.

Attitude is everything:  For the most part, we’re a bunch of Type A people in this industry. Type A to a T. Don’t be a wallflower when there is fun and networking opportunities to be had. Ask questions; compliment someone on their fun shoe selection, whatever it takes to strike up a conversation. Smile, talk about your company, your agency, your client, the news, the latest autotuned news piece – establish relationships, that’s the kicker. You might be at a party, but you’re there for your company or client. Word will get around that you’re the person always sitting in the corner or that you’re the person everyone wants to talk to.

Know your limits: In this industry, you may find yourself at a good party from time to time. Alcohol is typically present, and often free flowing. At these events, you are often, “Mrs. Smith representing (insert fabulous client name here).” Mind your P’s and Q’s and know your limits. Don’t be the person your client mentions Monday morning while discussing people who went too far at the party, and certainly don’t be the person your associates have to carry out.

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1 Comment Posted on by Susan Hinds

How Social Media Networks Can Step Up Their Games in 2013

Posted in Social Media

This isn’t your typical 2013 blog post, folks.

Everyone is blogging about how companies can prepare for the New Year, whether it be embracing new technology, adopting new practices, etc. Instead, I want to share some thoughts on how Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram can step up their games in 2013. While these social media network giants probably won’t read this, here are some ways they can better engage and serve users:

Note: I’m sorry to all you Pinterest lovers. I am aware this network can be extremely addicting and time-consuming, so I have been trying to refrain from it despite my creating an account over the summer. I know, I know. I’m missing out on all the fancy art projects and delicious recipes, right? Perhaps one of these days…

By the way, according to a December 2012 social media report by Nielsen, Pinterest boasted the greatest increase in the number of audience members and time spent interacting with its boards. However, I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you that Facebook is still the largest, most-visited social networking site.

FB

There have been instances when I’m killing time on Facebook, and I think to myself, “I wonder if anyone has seen X movie in theaters yet, or if anyone bought Y’s new album?”

Facebook should allow people the option to search for key words they want to know more about. So, I realize this would somewhat be ripping off Twitter, but it would be different because users would be filtering through friends only. Facebook revealed that any given post (whether by an individual or company) reaches approximately 16 percent of its audience. If Facebook added this extra search option, that percentage could increase, based on your friends’ and fans’ interests and how you cater to them.

Another thing – I was thrilled when the timeline came out. I had always wanted to look back on what I was saying when I first created a Facebook account as a high school student in 2007. However, it would be nice to have an easy-to-access calendar to seek out past interactions rather than having to scroll and scroll to get there.

TwitterMake it easier to access trends from country-to-country, or city-to-city. Twitter should allow up to two or three windows open with different locations’ trends.

When national news explodes in the U.S., I’m anxious to see whether other countries are talking about it. When my favorite professional athlete pulls off a ridiculous play, I want to see if another distant city recognizes my pro sports team. Not only would it be easier to check these other locations I may be interested in, but I could also compare the trend rankings across the board.

linkedin_logo

I’m impressed with LinkedIn’s upgrades to users’ profiles. It looks much more modern and polished. I applaud the people of LinkedIn, because the new layout just might attract users to interact more often. It’s important for LinkedIn to stay fresh, and I think they need to make these kinds of “look and feel” changes more than any other network to keep people coming back. Some professionals look at LinkedIn as a chore, especially if they’re happy with their careers and aren’t seeking a job. Nevertheless, it’s important to stay relevant within your industry and show your connections that you are – no matter how content you are with your job.

I just have one minor suggestion: Allow bullet points to be formatted into resumes once it’s been imported. Most resumes I’ve seen coming out of college have bullet points. It makes for a cleaner, more organized look.

Instagram-logo

Much to my disdain, Instagram wasn’t included in Nielsen’s report. I tend to think of Nielsen as a credible source, but perhaps they define social networking differently. This blogger compiled a report of the most-visited global social networks to the best of his ability. When discounting the other networks belonging to other countries, Instagram makes the top 20, but just barely misses the top 10.

Still, a lot of people haven’t caught on to the photo sharing application just yet. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, considering I have found myself trying to recruit my friends to it (with some successes, some failures). I do think there are some stigmas attached to the network, but I foresee its popularity increasing come 2013.

Instagram, I still have a message for you, as I announce my fandom: Stop cutting off my pictures! It’s frustrating when I’m eager to share a photo with friends, and it won’t fit to the screen. I always have to zoom in on an image (and therefore crop sometimes necessary objects out) so it doesn’t have black around the edges. There are times I try to settle for the black edges; and I’m serious when I say this – it’s a less than attractive border.

Instagram should also take Twitter’s approach in allowing lists to be made. I love browsing through Instagram when I have five minutes to do so, but having to keep scrolling gets tiresome, especially because I’m the type of person who I doesn’t want to miss a thing. I follow 143 users, and I’m hoping to limit it to that until a change is made. I know people who follow up to 500 users! It would be nice if users could separate followers into lists – from closest friends to acquaintances to celebrities.

What do you think about my suggestions? Are they realistic? Do you envision them being implemented at some point over the next year? What changes would you make to social media sites?

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Comments Off Posted on by Hannah Babcock

Establish Win-Win Connections

Posted in Best Practices, Community Leadership, Tips and Tricks

I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the Shawnee and Kansas City Kansas Area Chambers of Commerce Joint Luncheon on how to establish and strengthen lasting connections through intentional networking. This opportunity helped me better define networking and re-think how to make lasting connections in today’s day and age. Here are a few highlights:

What networking is all about

I often see people go to a networking event for the purpose of receiving career advice. While receiving career advice is beneficial for the person on the receiving end, it’s not the same as networking.

Here is my preferred definition of networking:

Networking – Building or strengthening personal relationships with no pre-determined end-in-mind, which becomes a win-win for both people.

You might be thinking, “Where do we start?”

Start with the concept of ‘Share/Get’

Come prepared when you attend a networking event. Knowing what you want to share and what you want to get will help you succeed at making connections. (I’ve written about this in a previous post on networking.) Walk in with three things you want to share. That way, when someone asks, “How are you?” you will have a better answer than, “Fine.” I usually reply with, “Excellent,” then say something interesting to spur conversation – “I just went to Seasons 52. Have you been there? It’s great!” The topic doesn’t have to be business-related – you may be looking for a house painter, or want information about where to take your teenage niece when she visits. It’s easy to get to know someone when asking for referrals and suggestions.

Make one stretch networking goal each month

We all like to socialize with friends, but networking requires us to get out of that comfort zone. To truly make the most out of networking, we should give ourselves a stretch goal. Make a list of key people you want to get to know, and then have the courage to reach out to them one at a time. Make sure you think in terms of quality, not quantity. It’s all about making a few really good connections, not just gathering 30 business cards.

A lesson learned on being memorable

Once when I was at a networking event, I met a lady on my target list I really wanted to meet. I was so excited to finally meet her. I followed up with a phone call the next day and said, “Hi, this is Eric. It was so nice meeting you last night…” And she stopped me to say she didn’t remember meeting me. I was hugely disappointed. However, it taught me a lesson that you must be memorable. And be memorable for something good.

It’s not who you know…it’s who knows you

We hire people we know. For everything else, we seem to listen to other people. When deciding whether or not to see a certain movie, we used to listen to two people – Siskel and Ebert. Now we use Rotten Tomatoes, Trip Adviser, Urban Spoon etc., and we’re listening to recommendations from hundreds of people we don’t know. Yet, when it comes to hiring, we still hire people we know.

Lasting connections generate referrals

At Morningstar Communications, all it took was an Excel spreadsheet for us to track all of our new clients to see 94 percent of our new business comes to us through referrals.  Build relationships, and when someone needs something, they’ll call you. When networking, realize the relationships that matter go beyond the initial interaction. They offer lifetime value. That’s why we work with each other to accomplish goals.

Bonus tips

  • Send hand-written notes. Your mom was right! Even with the power of the Internet and social media, sending a hand-written note is still the single best relationship building and strengthening tool you can use. For example, when I take someone out to lunch, I often send them a hand-written note thanking them for their time and attention. All it takes is 45 cents and two minutes of your time.
  • Use LinkedIn. It’s your personal billboard – it’s there all the time. Think of it as your personal Rolodex. It keeps your contacts current and allows you to strengthen your connections.
  • Get involved in your community. Show up. Volunteer. Lead. The more you put in to it, the more you’ll get in return. It will make you feel good, and you’ll form connections along the way. It’s a sure way to expand your skills and open the door to new opportunities.

Intentional networking is essential to establishing and strengthening lasting connections. It builds your personal and company brand by helping you expand your reach and connection to potential partners and clients.

Onward and upward.

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2 Comments Posted on by Eric Morgenstern

Building Networks Leads to Professional Growth

Posted in Community Leadership, Tricia's Posts

As those who live in KC know, we work in a small business community where connections are invaluable. Your network can lead to new business, job opportunities and personal fulfillment. The key is finding the right networking opportunities for you.

I found an incredible opportunity in the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Centurions Leadership Program. Each year Centurions welcomes a new class of business professionals into its close-knit organization. I was one of those lucky people last year and I’m excited to see who will join as a member of the Class of 2014.

Centurions opened many doors for me, both professionally and personally, over the last year. In addition to gaining a network of some of the most talented professionals in our area, I’ve been exposed to Kansas City’s elite business leaders and given an insider’s perspective on the issues facing our bi-state region.

Some of my favorite memories from the year include:

  • Learning from Saint Luke’s Heath System President and CEO, Melinda Estes, M.D., in a small group setting.
  • Touring Shatto Milk during our Agribusiness Task Force, where I had the opportunity to check milking a cow off of my bucket list.
  • Our Centurions Benchmarking Trip to Boston where we heard from top individuals, including Mayor Menino and Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, and learned valuable lessons we can implement in KC.

If you are passionate about Kansas City, leadership, service and learning, I encourage you to apply for the program. Application packets are due by end of business on Friday, June 1, 2012. To learn more about the program and how to apply, visit http://www.centurions.org/Join-Now.aspx.

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Comments Off Posted on by Tricia McKim

Making the Most of LinkedIn

Posted in Social Media

LinkedIn is an excellent business tool. It may not get as much of our attention as some other social media platforms (yes, I’m looking at you Facebook and Twitter), but it definitely is a valuable resource, especially in the workplace.

According to a Forbes article from last summer, the top activity on LinkedIn is industry networking. Being able to network in new ways is an amazing benefit to the social media revolution.

Photo courtesy of www.blog.pardot.com.

Here are a few tips on how to keep your LinkedIn presence in tip-top shape so your virtual networking experience is as valuable as your in-person networking.

Don’t cut and paste your resume

LinkedIn hooks you into a network. You wouldn’t hand out your resume before introducing yourself, so don’t do it here. Instead, describe your experience and abilities as you would to someone you just met.

Write a personal tagline

That line of text under your name is the first thing people see in your Profile. It follows your name in search hit lists. It’s your brand. (Note: your email address is not a brand!) You might need to refine your professional personality into a more eye-catching phrase that describes who you are at a glance.

Put your elevator pitch to work

That 30-second description, the essence of who you are and what you do, is a personal elevator pitch. Use it in the ‘Summary’ section to engage readers. You’ve got 5-10 seconds to capture their attention. The more meaningful your summary is, the more time you’ll get from readers.

Point out your skills

Think of the ‘Specialties’ field as your personal search engine optimizer. This searchable section is where that list of industry buzzwords from your resume belongs (but don’t use jargon or over-used business phrases). This is also the place to display particular abilities and interests, the personal values you bring to your professional performance, or even a note of humor or passion.

Distinguish yourself from the crowd

Use the ‘Additional Information’ section to round out your Profile with a few key interests. Add websites that showcase your abilities or passions. Then edit the default ‘My Website’ label to encourage click-throughs (you get Google page rankings for those, raising your visibility). Maybe you belong to a trade association or an interest group; help other members find you by naming those groups. If you’re an award winner recognized by peers, customers or employers, add prestige without bragging by listing them here.

Taking a few minutes to develop your LinkedIn profile and revisiting it regularly will be time well spent. It’s a valued resource in the business community and has a very real place in social media alongside Facebook and Twitter.

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Comments Off Posted on by Rachel Spear

Intentional Networking: 10 Easy Tips for Long-term Success

Posted in Best Practices, Executive Insights

During the past few years, the word “networking” has been translated way too often to mean “I need to meet with you so I can get a new job.”

However, the best definition of networking is developing mutually beneficial, two-way relationships, that develop over time. You plant a seed, water it, and perhaps, it sprouts someday.

I recently had the honor of presenting, “Intentional Networking” to more than 200 women entrepreneurs as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week at the Kauffman Foundation. This speaking opportunity helped me hone my tips on how to effectively approach networking. Here are my top 10 tips:

  1. Place your nametag on the right side. You reach forward with your right hand to shake and this helps make it easy for the other person to read your name.
  2. Restate their name. Reach out your hand and say, “Hi, I’m Eric …” and then they say, “I’m Susan.” Then you say, “Hi Susan, nice to meet you.” When you restate their name, you have a much greater chance of remembering it.
  3. Share and Get. Prepare in advance by coming prepared with something to share at this networking event. Bring a tip, it’s even better if it’s not business related. A new handyman, a great restaurant … something universal to move the conversation forward. Then, think about what you need, so you can ask, “we’re looking for a great admin; know anyone?” or “I need a new distributor in Nebraska …” Knowing what you want to “Share and Get” before you arrive will enhance your success.
  4. Ask Questions. Albert Einstein said, “questions are the creative acts of intelligence.”   Ask great, open-ended questions, and your contacts will think you’re smart and a wonderful listener.
  5. Arrive Early. The early bird catches the connections. Relax, stake out your place, and start slowly. We all network better when we’re not frazzled.
  6. Stand by the food.  Important note: I didn’t say stand in front of the food. People will come by you, and then move on. Whether it’s the buffet or the bar, it’s best if people come up to you.
  7. Think quality, not quantity. Many years ago a young colleague told me she collected 33 business cards at a networking event. I said, “how many of these people did you really connect with … will they remember meeting you?” It’s much better to make three solid connections, than grab 30 cards.
  8. Write on business cards. After each conversation, turn the person’s card over and make notes …
    likes sushi, has two teenagers, previously worked at Sprint. Give yourself mind-joggers to help remember the person.
  9. It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. Many years ago, I finally met a person I really wanted to get to know better. I eagerly called the next morning, and she said, “I don’t remember meeting you last night.” I was crushed. I learned this important lesson – you must be memorable, but be memorable in a good way.
  10. Don’t say “fine.” When someone asks, “How are you?” develop a distinctive, authentic response. I always answer, “excellent” spoken with enthusiasm.  Say anything but fine.
  11. Bonus Networking Tip:  Your Mom was right … send hand-written notes.  Read more here, but the simple fact is that 44 cents and one minute of your time is the single greatest way to make a positive, lasting impression.
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4 Comments Posted on by Eric Morgenstern

“When walking along the edge of the ethical ocean, don’t let your knees get wet.”

Posted in Best Practices, Executive Insights

“When walking along the edge of the ethical ocean, don’t let your knees get wet.” This was the answer I gave the panel of very accomplished practitioners when asked how I define ethics as part of my “test” to get into to the PRSA College of Fellows. It worked; I was elected in 2001. I hope this concept works for you, too.

I’m leading a discussion tomorrow entitled, “Your Professional GPS: Navigating the Twists and Turns of Business Ethics at the Business Communicators Summit for KC/ IABC. I’m truly honored to serve both as a teacher (during my breakout) and a student (the line-up of speakers is terrific … kudos to Donna Schwartze and our local chapter).

I’ve been asked to share 10 real-world ethical case studies from my personal experiences during my 30-plus year career. I have so many stories, ranging from the time a job candidate sent me a dozen long-stemmed red roses with her follow-up note (she did not get the job) to learning how to work with colleagues who I’d seen steal, cheat, and lie (I left that job pretty quickly) to guiding clients to embrace transparency (not easy for privately-owned businesses, but worth it in the long-term.)

There are very few scenarios where murder, stealing and adultery can be justified as proper ethical choices. But most of the decisions that we make each day aren’t quite that simple.

For example, how many hours do we actually bill for a track-time project that took longer – or not as long – as we initially thought? Which employee gets to work on the cool, new client? Do we work for ABC Company, even though we don’t fully embrace everything they do? And the list goes on and on. We’ll discuss all of these – and more – tomorrow.

Photo credit: Webshots

Back to the ethical shoreline. Unlike simple binary choices, most ethical business decisions are much more like a shoreline – with a small area that’s both wet and dry, depending on the exact circumstances. So when working through those questions, don’t wait until your mouth is barely above water; once your toes, feet and ankles get wet, it’s probably time to step back safely onto shore.

How do you establish your own ethical code of conduct? Is every decision based on “situational ethics,” or do you believe there are straightforward rules that should be followed in every circumstance.

While I’m honored and humbled to lead this discussion, I’m eager to learn from my colleagues about exactly how they establish their personal ethical shorelines.

Onward and upward.

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2 Comments Posted on by Eric Morgenstern

Recognizing the Best in Communications

Posted in Community Leadership

As communicators, we know the importance of sharing messages in multiple channels with the goal of reaching people in ways that’s convenient for them. It’s an integral part of being recipient-oriented (one of the three key factors of effective key messages, with the other two being simple and easy to articulate).

A piece of my role here at Morningstar Communications is involvement in professional organizations. It gives me the opportunity to connect with other communicators to share ideas and gather best practices. The way I chose to be active is through a leadership role on the Board of KC/IABC where I’m planning the Bronze Quill Awards.

The Bronze Quills recognize excellence in communication. I encourage you to enter your best work from last year and strive for a Bronze Quill to place on your desk. Not only will it recognize your hard work, it also increases your credibility as a communicator. Winning a Bronze Quill is recognition you completed some of the best in business communications in the city.

So the reason I’m using my blog post to share this information is using another channel to spread the word about the 2011 Bronze Quill Awards and encourage people to participate. The online entry system is ready to accept your entry.

The award ceremony is May 6 at the Clubhouse on Baltimore and is a great place to network and see what others in the industry are have been up to. Hope to see you there.

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Comments Off Posted on by Rachel Spear

Brand Yourself

Posted in Social Media

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to hear Dan Schawbel, author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, speak at a PRSSA event. He spoke about the importance of personal branding and strategic ways to market yourself. He outlined easy-to-accomplish ways to control your reputation and image to develop a personal brand.

Schawbel talked about the importance of putting together a “Personal Branding Toolkit.”  Here are some elements Schawbel suggests including in your toolkit:

Business Cards

Everyone should have a business card. It doesn’t matter if you’re a college student, intern or CEO of a company. You’re more likely to be remembered by the people you meet. Tip: Bring them to interviews; they make a lasting impression.

Social Networking

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are three (free!) great ways to brand yourself. When creating your profiles, remember you are in control.

1. Do not post anything that could be considered detrimental to the personal brand you’re building. Keep it clean, simple and professional.

2. It’s called social networking, so network! Friend and follow people and companies related in your field of interest or career.

3. Keep your profiles updated. This is especially important with LinkedIn. It is easy for employers to find information about you. Wouldn’t you want it to be up-to-date and accurate?

Blog/Website

Today, people seek information by going online, so it’s important to have an online presence in order to stay top of mind. If you have a blog, you should be posting regularly.

Email address

It’s important not to overlook your email address. It poses a great opportunity for your brand because it is something people use everyday. Tip: For your address, use firstname.lastname@gmail.com. Refrain from using anything like beerguzzler11@gmail.com, it will no doubt destroy your brand.

So when I say brand yourself, I am certainly not referring to anything that includes a hot metal rod. Remember, you have the ability to control your brand. Stay up-to-date, consistent and most importantly, stay true to yourself.

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1 Comment Posted on by Sara Kiszka

Networking During the Holidays

Posted in Best Practices, Community Leadership, Online Marketing, Social Media

Networking opportunities generally slow down at the end of the year, but don’t let that stop you from making connections this holiday season.

Consider the following three avenues for cultivating your network this month.

Participate in professional groups:
If your professional organization doesn’t have its customary luncheon scheduled in December, keep your eyes and ears open for other networking opportunities. For example, look for holiday parties sponsored by the group, or volunteer opportunities during the month. This month the Kansas City IABC Chapter is offering a unique opportunity to network with local community professionals and help a good cause. During the organization’s December event attendees will brainstorm marketing, advertising, communication and public relations ideas for the Ronald MacDonald House.

Leverage online networks: Join the conversation in online social networks such as LinkedIn. Use downtime to expand your LinkedIn network by searching and adding individuals to your network.  Join a LinkedIn group that fits your interests. Or position yourself as an expert by answering questions posed on the site.

Volunteer: ‘Tis the season for giving.  You’ll find while giving back to those less fortunate, you’ll also gain yourself.  Volunteering is a wonderful way to do good and meet new people within the community. While volunteering, introduce yourself to others helping the cause. You may be surprised at the connections you’ll make.

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Comments Off Posted on by Tricia McKim
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