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High Performance Business Networking February 17, 2010

Posted by David Dirks in Networking.
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Advanced Business Networking Webinar

Please download the above link to access the Webinar Outline PDF.

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Using LinkedIn for Business June 21, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in Networking, Relationship.
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David DirksI’ll tell you flat out: I love Linkedin as a business networking tool.  Each week I devote some time to reviewing what some of my network contacts are doing and look to add additional contacts to my base.  In a few short months I’ve been able to add several hundred contacts to my LinkedIn network…and these are people that I know already.

I also see a number of people I know, people who have established businesses, using LinkedIn as well.  A few seem active and engaged with LinkedIn.  Many others seem to start and then stop.  They lose faith in the art and science of networking.  They might gather a few names but they don’t seem to be adding any contacts.  Is it because they just ran out of contacts and stopped at let say , 20?  Not likely.

It’s more likely that they just don’t invest the time that it takes to grow and engage a group of contacts.  It is often difficult to see any results as you are building your network.  Some people will stay stalled because they cannot see the value of online social media platforms like LinkedIn.  What’s the point?  How will it help them grow their business?  Will it make them money?

High performing Big Dogz, both individuals and businesses, understand the value and power of social networking sites like LinkedIn.  They get the point.  They seem to understand better than most that business networking is an investment of time that will pay off if you do it effectively.

Social media platforms like LinkedIn are another way to communicate and engage many different layers of business contacts.  Look at it this way: LinkedIn is a very efficient and effective tool for acquiring and managing business contacts on a far wider and deeper basis.

I’ve been working with LinkedIn for a few years now and I keep learning more everyday.  Here are a few things I’ve learned so far that might make your experience more fruitful:

  • Invest a consistent amount of time each week to working your LinkedIn account.  I’ve learned that investing my time in smaller doses on a consistent basis is all I need to keep my network growing and maintaining it.
  • Engage your network.  With LinkedIn, you can poll your network on any question you want.  What better way to get a read a critical issue facing your  business or industry than to ask your trusted group of network contacts?  That’s just one example of engaging your network.  Another is just updating them on a regular basis on issues or business events, ideas or needs.  Use the “What are you working on now?” section on your home page to alert/inform or ask your network for some help.
  • Keep adding new contacts each week.  One of the best ways to do that is to look at one of your contacts and see if you know anyone that’s not already in your network.  Invariably, I’ll find a few people each week and send an invitation to them.  Almost all accept and my network grows.
  • Both quality and size of network count.  LinkedIn is built on the concept of only including people you know and trust into you network.  It’s what makes LinkedIn more discerning as a social network platform than others.  But as your network grows, both the quality and size of your network give you an advantage.  It’s simple math.  Having 200 trusted and known contacts gives you greater reach and depth than having just 20.

If you are engaging your network both in giving and receiving information, ideas, etc., you’ll find over time that your network will become a contributor to your business.  You just have to stay with it and have a little faith.

Building rapport in a global environment June 20, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Building rapport, Building trust, Communication, Global leadership, Knowing your people, Leading globally, Management, Networking.
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Building rapport with global team member is a daunting task for most global team leaders.  The Big Dogz know that using a structured approach and a consistent information capturing tool goes a long way toward helping you be effective at building rapport over the chasms of time and distance.

In building rapport, the first thing all effective leaders focus upon is the people. What do I want to know about my team members? What information would be useful for me to customize my approach and interactions with the team member? Actually, the techniques for building rapport over time and distance are no different from building rapport face to face.

Create a list of topics that would be useful for you.

Here are some work related examples:

What job experiences do they have?

What are their career objectives?

What is their preferred communication style?

How do they like to receive feedback?

What is their favorite (most and least) work assignment?

What are their strengths?

What skills would they like to acquire?

What is the anniversary of them joining the company or your team?

Here are some personal related examples:

What is their commute?

What hobbies do they have?

What pressures do they experience outside of work?

What is their family situation?

When is theiur birthday?

Who are the people they admire?

What is their favorite television show?

Do they like sports? What teams?

Another key set of information that may be useful in a global environment is cultural data such as:

National holidays

Tourist attractions

Key historical events

National heroes

National sports teams

Public figures

Geography

Climate

You can develop your own list of information that would be helpful to you. Try to fill in the information for each item that would be useful for you.

Acquiring this information is an art form in itself! I am not suggesting you conduct an interrogation to discover the answers to these or other questions you may have about your team members. An effective technique to help you discover both work and personal related information is to first share something about yourself. To discover someone’s hobby, you might mention that you went on a hike this weekend and enjoy hiking. They may respond that hiking is not something they do, but they prefer cycling. Or, they may not respond at all. The key is to listen for information that can help you build rapport.

Once you have acquired information that is useful to you, I suggest you put that information into a file related to this person. Sales people use this technique when acquiring information about key clients. Standard contact management software like Outlook and BlackBerry have specific places where you can store this information. I am not well known for my ability to recall information about people, so for me, this technique is quite useful. Prior to making contact with people, I frequently review my information file to allow me to customize my approach to them.

The Big Dogz also know that people are interested in them. Think about what you would want your global team members to know about you. Prepare a short introduction presentation and deliver it to any new team members. Periodically review the salient points of your introduction at team meetings. Give people an opportunity to build rapport with you.

Focus on what information is important, capture that information and use it to customize your approach to building rapport with global team members.

Instant messaging best practices for the global team leader May 12, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Communication, Global communication, Global leadership, Grow your skills, Leading globally, Management, Networking, Uncategorized.
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When the message is urgent and simple, the Big Dogz use Instant Messaging (IM) to communicate.

 Some of the advantages of using IM are:

  1. It is quick, saving time that can be used for other tasks
  2. Using an IM option, you can save the conversation for later referral. This feature eliminates the need to call someone back and ask the same question again!
  3. It allows people to work on important tasks while waiting for an important asynchronous interrupt from colleagues or clients.
  4. If a person is busy working on that high priority project you want done NOW, others know to leave that person alone.
  5. It allows you to communicate immediately to everyone at once.
  6. Studies have shown that when IM is used, email traffic goes down; sometimes significantly.

 Here are some tips to using IM to help communicate with your global team.

 Define a policy for IM use. You as the leader can establish guidelines on how and when the global team will use IM. However, do not be so inflexible that your people think you are inhibiting their creativity. Periodically review your policy to make sure you are getting maximum advantage of IM. A good starter policy is to use IM for quick information about project status, meeting times or if a person is available.

 IM should never be used to transmit confidential or sensitive information. This type of communication is high on the interpersonal scale and the complexity scale. Face to face communication is the most effective followed by the telephone call.

 Create criteria for people to be added to “buddy” lists. Separate business contacts from personal, clients from team members, etc. to avoid the possible conflict of interest in an IM situation.

 Make you team aware that all IM conversations will be recorded to facilitate archiving of essential information.  IM is not to be used to disparage others or to complain.

 If you decide to use the file attachment feature of IM, make sure you have the appropriate security measures in place. If you do not understand this comment, check with your IT support group before you attempt to allow file attachment. Failure to follow this tip could result in serious damage to your team.

 Depending upon the IM software you use, there is some exposure to non-intended people seeing your IM’s. Include in your policy a prohibition of using IM to send phone numbers, passwords or other sensitive information.

 Keep IM communication short. IM is an effective communication technology for urgent and simple information. If an IM session becomes more complicated, move it to another communication technology up the scale. A conference call would be an effective choice. With the communication technology awareness of today’s global worker, a virtual meeting might be even more effective.

 IM can be an effective way to set up a discussion or a phone call. A global team leader (GTL) in one of my workshops gave this tip about using IM to communicate with a global team member (GTM) about a complex issue. Here is the IM conversation:

GTL: Are you there?

GTM: Yes

GTL: Do you have 10 minutes to discuss “complex issue?”

GTM: Not just now, how about at 1030?

GTL: Great, I will call you at 1030

GTM: OK

It is simple and it is really effective. Using an IM in this manner demonstrates respect for peoples’ time and still communicates the urgency of the situation.

 One of the most effective features of IM is the ability to set your status to “busy” or “not available”. When you send an IM and get one of these responses, leave a short message stating your purpose and when you need a response. When you can not be interrupted, set your presence indicators accordingly. When you do become available, reset your indicator.

 Always check to see if someone has the time to chat with you. If they don’t, respect that judgment and make an appointment.

 When you are engaged in an IM session, give the other person(s) an opportunity to respond. This conversation is just like a face to face conversation; people need time to process your requests.

 Use proper English. IM has spawned a whole new language complete with emoticons, abbreviations and jargon. This is fine when communicating with friends but is not effective in a business environment. Of course, the use of common terms within your global team is appropriate and can facilitate quicker communication.

 I ran across an excellent article on using IM. The article is written by Stowe Boyd and is useful for the novice as well as the expert IM user. It is worth a read:

 http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/files/EIM.pdf

 The Big Dogz know that with the global distribution of team members, global team leaders need to take advantage of fast and effective communication technology like Instant Messaging.

 What are some of your tips for using IM? What things do people do with IM that drive you nuts? Please respond to this post or send me and email at rbronder@gmail.com

Are you networking? January 20, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Changing behavior, Networking, Relationship, Self assessments.
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How networked are you? The Big Dogz know that before you can achieve a higher level of networking, you need to know how networked you are right now. Here is a self-assessment to evaluate just how networked you are.

 

How true is each statement for you? Rate your self on a scale of 1-10 where 1 is almost not true at all and 10 is almost completely true.

 

I understand specifically what I need to get from my network.

Having defined specific needs for your network will allow you to identify potential networking sources. It will help you decide where to spend your time and energy

 

I can articulate what value I bring to a networking relationship.

Knowing what you have to offer allows you to be more assertive in developing relations. You can start the exchange of support by offering something of value. Have a consistent “elevator speech” that you can deliver comfortably when you meet someone new.

 

I have an effective strategy for networking.

The basis of an effective strategy is the identification of your approach to networking. What do you want to achieve? How will you achieve it? Networking without an overall strategy is just not as effective.

 

I contact the people in my network frequently.

Networking is not just calling people when you need help. Cultivate key relationships using periodic contact such as face-to-face, telephone or even an email.

 

People in my network contact me frequently.

When people are contacting you, it is a clear indicator that people in your network value your opinion and the relationship they have with you. If you are not getting frequent calls from people in your network, start calling them!

 

I belong to professional and community organizations.

These types of organizations offer a target rich environment for networking. Usually members of these organizations are movers and shakers in their field or in the community.

 

I am active in volunteer task forces or committees at work, in professional organizations and in the community.

Volunteering to serve on these committees often allow you to meet other people who are in positions of power or may have something of value to you. It is always an effective action to give back to your profession or community.

 

I have at least three people in my network with whom I have constant interaction.

Pareto’s Law says that 20% of what we do has 80% of the value to us. The same principle is true of networking. Cultivate a small number of key relationships that are of mutual high value.

 

I use technology to leverage my network.

There are many websites set up for networking. Make sure you are using one of them. Make frequent updates to your entry. Try to select a networking site that aligns with your networking strategy. If one that supports your strategy does not exist, select the one with the broadest appeal.

 

I am confident in my ability to network.

Self-confidence is the key to building effective networks. It takes confidence to approach a senior person to create a connection. The most effective way to develop your confidence in networking is to practice your interpersonal skills.

 

There is no passing score for this assessment. Set your own targets for your scores based on what you believe to be effective. The assessment is a tool for you to determine the strengths and areas of improvement of your networking. Look at the statements you rated yourself low. More focus on these actions can help you build a stronger network. The Big Dogz know that having a strong network is a major contributor to success.

 

To make sure you get a valid self-assessment, please see my July 30, 2007 entry on calibrating your self-assessment skills.

  

https://growingmybusiness.wordpress.com/2007/07/