Category Archives: Networking

Career Planning: All you need to know (part 2)

By | Career, Motivation, Networking | No Comments

Remember my post about Career Planning?  I was talking about what makes up an effective Career Plan:

          • Who am I?
          • What do I want?
          • What options do I have?

and taking you through how to find out who you are and what you want; so now onto the third step!

What options do I have?
  • How can you improve your current role and raise your potential? Could you take on a new project? Offer to peer coach? Take on new responsibilities? Experience of taking on any change makes your CV shine more. What training and development you can optimise? Do you want to be mediocre or demonstrate excellence asks Brian Tracey, an Achievement Psychologist? If the latter you will always have good employment. Who can help you? What networking can you do?

TIP How can you anticipate future changes and trends in your profession or sector to stay ahead?

  • Change role same employer?
    • TIP Find yourself a mentor to guide you and offer impartial advice about the organisation. Who else can you influence, as people give opportunities to those they like best?
  • Leave your current employer for other options? This involves research, research and more research! Internet, trade journals and fairs, plus networking events all provide up to date information.  If you want a big change, work on a transitional plan to ease you through and manage the risk. Who can help you? Is it worth investing in some professional guidance and support? What can go wrong and how can you plan for that?
How to harness your motivation

Lets be honest here, finding another job is a slog so how do you find the energy to do this? One way of looking at this is to understand where your source of motivation is coming from. Is it that you are motivated by moving towards the excitement of a new job, the extra benefits, the challenges, new opportunities etc; or the good feelings about moving away from your current job, boss, team, commute, or location? With the former (a moving towards goal) be clear about not only the benefits but the costs (energy, money, effort, emotion) too. Allow the pull of a new job to drive you forward, recognising that energy source and consider the bigger picture. If you are more the latter (a moving away from goal), see the benefits of leaving your current role and how it can solve all your problems; but be realistic. Is the grass greener? It’s a bit like doing a cost benefit analysis and remembering where your source of motivation will come from when it’s tough going. You can then hold onto that source to drive you on. 

How much will networking help?

Often when we mention the term networking a look of horror creeps across our client’s faces. They imagine selling, cold calling and all that embarrassing awkwardness of being rejected. Stop there! Think of networking as building relationships, about listening, asking questions, being interested, building trust & rapport in addition to developing contacts. This comes more naturally for some, in others, in true emotional intelligence terms; it can be learned like any skill.

For more on this take a look at one of my previous posts. 

How can Personal Branding help you work out what you are selling and who wants to buy it?

By working out your personal brand it enables you to target, having given you focus and clarity. Armed with your CV and having worked through your personal brand you can feel confident about interviews and becoming close to your next job. See our post about  Personal Branding for more detail.  

Thinking of self employment?

Self employment … 37% of people running UK companies wouldn’t start another business according to a survey by Sage. Government red tape and lack of innovation and passion were cited as the main reasons. Research every angle before you launch into something new like this. 

So is career planning all that it is cracked up to be?

It is not the most qualified people who get the best jobs – it is those who are most skilled at managing their skills and finding opportunities. If you don’t invest in your career who will?  

Career Planning: All you need to know (part 1)

By | Career, Managing Strengths, Motivation, Networking | One Comment

career-planningIn this post I focus on career planning. If you work as an employee this is definitely for you. If you’re self employed does this have any relevance? Well yes, as you still want to develop yourself and continue to grow the business and take it to the next stage.

So do you really need to plan your career?

As a salaried worker if you don’t plan your career who will? Will your manager take as much time, effort and energy in working out career moves for you as well as you could for yourself? Probably not! What about if you are self employed – perhaps it is even more important to plan your development, to have a mentor and take some external frame of reference to be proactive about your business and skills. Will your competition be doing this?

Benefits to you

By planning your career you can:

  • increase your sense of control and become less reliant on others to achieve your career goals
  • enhance your self awareness about what is possible and how your unique mix of skills and strengths changes over time.
  • provide clarity so that when opportunities emerge you are able to make informed decisions and so avoid taking high risks
  • monitor progress against a realistic and achievable plan, leaving scope for change

If you are a business owner you can also maximise potential by succession planning.

Timing: When to do the Career Plan

Imagine a ski slope and at the bottom of the slope is the equivalent of the place where most people begin to look for another job. At the bottom of that ski slope you run out of steam and have enjoyed the thrill and buzz of getting there! Similarly, looking for another job when you are at the bottom of the slope, is when you are most likely to be bored, unchallenged and unexcited. This is hard work and a slight feeling of desperation can creep in. Imagine though looking for that role when you are at the top of the peak, you are confident, motivated and energetic. How do you hide those feelings in either situation to a potential employer? They will seep out and help or hinder you. The time to job search is when you are at the peak not the bottom! If you are self employed the time to review your role, skills and development is annually as part of your business review.

What makes up an effective Career Plan

The plan has 3 parts to it:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I want?
  • What options do I have?
Who am I?

By understanding who you are and what has shaped you so far and what is important to you in the present you can begin the process of planning and decision making for the future.

  • Work out your satisfiers and dis-satisfiers at work. (You may want to add in outside work too).
  • Be honest and identify what you really want to do. Go for the most likes and fewest dislikes.
  • What are your strongest skills? Develop any skills gaps but do please recognise your talents!

“Unfortunately most of us have little sense of our talents and strengths, much less the ability to build our lives around them. Instead guided by our teachers, parents and managers we become experts at our weaknesses and spend our lives trying to repair these flaws, whilst our strengths lie dormant and neglected.” writes author Marcus Buckingham in his books “First break all the rules” and “Now discover your strengths”.

  • How to identify your talents

Ask yourself these questions:

    • What do you most appreciate about yourself?
    • What do people repeatedly seek you out for?
    • Where do you feel you contribute most?
    • What legacy do you want to leave?
  • What values were you satisfying in jobs in the past that have been a real “high”?
  • What existed in the “highs” that were missing in the “lows”?
  • Think about settings where you flourish? Where do you feel most energised? Why? When you were growing up what activities, experiences and people were you most drawn to? When you feel most creative what are you doing?
  • Consider your commitments, duties and obligations.
  • Draw your life line in 5 year intervals and identify the achievements and any issues. Ask are there any themes? What has triggered moves in the past? What have been your successes and failures?
  • Factor in your values which give you motivation. Sometimes these are known as career drivers.
  • List your skill set, both technical and managerial as well as capabilities. Are there any underdeveloped talents? Define your reputation i.e. how others see you? How can you check this out? Who will give you honest feedback?
What do I want?
  • Draw a mind map of your future options. Where do you see yourself in 2, 5 and 10 years? What are the likely barriers and how can you overcome them?
  • If you want to move into senior management positions in addition to a track record and conventional intelligence do you have the following attributes:
    • Emotional Intelligence
    • Learning Competence
    • Strategic Thinking
    • High Motivation?
  • Write your life stage predictor – predict the future likely stages of your life – what you want to do with any large purchases and their funding, factor in pensions and other commitments.
  • Write your retirement tribute to crystallise what you will have achieved.

Next time, I’ll talk about your Career planning options – or, if you can’t wait, get in touch!

Personal Branding: Essential for Running a Business Today

By | Career, Networking, Productivity | No Comments

Customers are demanding more; they want the promise of value that you offer.

This is largely due to the change in our culture – we are now information-rich and time-poor. We have altered the way we buy products and services and no longer rely solely on judgements based on features and benefits, as they don’t have the same impact as they did in the past. People are overwhelmed by the choices they face. “We are now more likely to purchase if we feel an element of trust and have an emotional attachment to a product or service”, says Dawn Winder. As I described in my last post, a strong, powerful and dynamic Personal Brand will communicate exactly these values.

A strong Personal Brand will attract people and opportunities to you, as it increases your confidence and communication skills. It inspires loyalty and respect in your target market and establishes you as an expert in your chosen field. It is the foundation of any marketing of yourself or your business.

Authenticity and Business Success

Once you have identified your Personal Brand values – what you stand for, your vision and purpose – you will find that you will be able to communicate this with ease to your prospects and clients. In building a strong Personal Brand you are saving not only your clients’ time, but also your own, and reduce stress and frustration into the bargain. You will stand out for the uniqueness that you offer and able to therefore enjoy a competitive edge. Marketing that really makes sense.

So, can you afford to ignore your brand, whether planned or not?

Get in touch for help on creating your personal brand.

Personal Branding

By | Career, Networking | One Comment

You may think that Personal Branding has nothing to do with you but read on and consider whether you can afford to ignore it!

What is a Personal Brand and why do I need one?

A Personal Brand is the thought or expectation that comes into someone’s head when they think of you, writes Dawn Winder, a communication coach. It is the powerful way that you express what you stand for – your vision, values, beliefs, skills, passions and attributes.

Personal Branding is about what makes you unique.

In marketing terms it is your unique selling point or USP. It relates to how people view you, what you project to others, and their perception of you. So why would you need a Personal Brand in your career or business? Let’s look at how the celebrities do this to maintain their personal success to really understand what is transferable to the everyday world!

Celebrities are increasingly turning themselves into brands, using their fame to succeed in business or attract lucrative advertising deals. Whether they are selling underwear or leading a charity campaign, they are in demand because, just like a top brand of trainers or a leading mobile phone, they are instantly recognisable.

According to personal branding consultant Gabriella Goddard, celebrities build up their brands by sticking to a few key attributes they want to be known for and making sure everything they do reinforces the image. She says: “Through circumstance you gain visibility and from there you create recognition. And if you are consistent, the brand comes across. Whatever your brand is, you need to paint everything you do with that brush.” For celebrities, this includes being careful what products you let yourself be associated with.

Personal Branding in your career

In “normal” careers, working on your personal brand can gain dividends in terms of business success or climbing the corporate ladder. This does not mean you need a brand name, branded stationary or advertising about yourself, just a clear idea in your own mind of how you want to be seen.

If you can put across a clear message about what “talents” you are “selling”, you are more likely to be hired or promoted. When you write your CV understand and emphasize your talents. Make it obvious what they are by being explicit.

Ms Goddard says it is important to decide what makes you different and what you want to be known for. Then you can concentrate on making sure everyone associates you with those qualities.

You might want to be seen as a stylish and innovative artist, or as an authoritative and decisive manager. It is a good idea to focus on any particular area of expertise you have, or anything you are passionate about. If you are not sure what you are valued for, ask for feedback from friends and colleagues to find out how others see you. Keeping your skills hidden will not lead to new opportunities. Work out with your boss or mentor how you can maximise your talents.

Top Tips for branding
  • Networking, building contacts in other departments and companies.
  • Joining trade organisations to gain credibility and recognition.
  • Writing pieces for trade journals in your field of expertise to help promote yourself whenever you can.
  • Start showcasing work and building a fan base on social media sites like Twitter or Facebook.
  • Taking part in charity events, gaining publicity through local media, doing work experience and voluntary work. It is important to act professionally, with business cards at the ready, and to dress the part.

For help on working on your Personal Brand, please get in touch.

More Networking Tips

By | Networking | No Comments
Networking for Trading Knowledge

Following on from my previous posts, trading knowledge can provide golden nuggets of information.

Networking with Professional groups provides ideas you can access and give opportunities for genuine collaboration with real mutual benefit. Specialist networks offer the chance to develop state of the art thinking: networks across complementary talents can share common problems.

To get started, attending conferences and seminars in your field targets the right people. Start asking questions in the queue for coffee. Exchange business cards and keep in touch.

Tips and Tools
  1. Do introduce people who you think may have a connection.
  2. If you are right handed wear your name label on the right lapel and when you shake hands the line of vision travels up the arm to the lapel.
  3. Follow up conversations with any action points, thank yous, good to meet you within 48 hours if possible.
  4. Be specific about the introductions that you want. Keep in touch with your network via calls, email, newsletters, meetings. Around 140 people are the ideal number for your network. Too many more and you cannot stay in touch frequently enough.
  5. Be memorable, image is important. The slob look is out!
  6. Send articles…I saw this and thought of you.
  7. Carry business cards: they can start the conversation. Collect business cards sparingly. It is not volume you are after. You don’t want to be accused of meeting, greeting and deleting.
  8. Ask questions and be curious. People are interested in people who are interested in them. Talking about yourself only is limiting.
  9. Prepare your 60 second elevator speech and your 3 minute tell me about yourself answer.
  10. Don’t interrupt two people already talking, wait for a pause. Perhaps offer to get a drink when you are getting yourself one.
Can you afford not to network?

You can see the intention is not to make networking smooth talking but more about creating lasting relationships to help people both personally and professionally; both in the corporate world and the SME market.

It is a skill to develop and practice.


Not New Year Resolutions…

By | Motivation, Networking, Productivity | 4 Comments

xmas tree made from alignments of bacterial genomesIt is a busy time of year so I decided to write a brief post and send my best wishes for a peaceful, healthy and prosperous New Year!

I don’t recommend New Year’s resolutions to be launched upon in January but in the Spring instead when change is a bit easier … however I do recommend a time for reflection and planning.  To assist you in this, here are some questions to ponder…

Consider each question and jot down your answers to gain the maximum learning:

  1. Recognise your achievements:
  • My 3 biggest achievements in 2011 were…
  • How I feel about this is…
  • Some of the things I wanted to achieve but didn’t were…
  • What stopped me was…
  • What I have learned in 2011 is…

2. Plan your future – imagine you’re 1 year on from now – finish these statements:

  • My talents are being used by…
  • Networking I have done is with…
  • Development I have completed is…
  • I have made more time to…
  • The one thing I changed was…
  • The people that work with me are…
  • I feel…

How could you plan in your 2012 diary, time to work on the important aspects of your professional life that may have slipped or that you want to do more of? Will they happen if you don’t plan in time for you? Do you have a choice?

Look out for next time for advice on career planning.

Have a fab Christmas and New Year! 

Networking Tips

By | Networking | No Comments

social-networkNetworking for new clients/customers/prospects

Networking is a well established method of meeting people in business. It is essentially marketing and should be viewed in this way. When you meet people you are your product or a diplomat for your organisation. The objective with business networking is to give and receive referrals.

This is the best value marketing.

Think of it on a purely personal basis. You probably ask family, friends and neighbours to recommend different trades and services. Word of mouth recommendation or referral is highly effective. Formal business forums for networking include: IoD, Chamber of Commerce, BNI, BRE, Missing Link. After a networking event follow up with the people you have a connection with to develop the relationship further. Online international networking forums also have their place such as Ecademy and Linked In. Create your own networking group or attend a group based on your interests. Here are some ideas:

  • wine-tasting
  • gyms
  • community groups
  • politics/action groups
  • sports clubs (e.g. golf)
  • charity group
  • gourmet group (dining club)

Getting Started

To kickstart the networking and referral process contact the people in your acquaintances, allies, & advocates categories as mentioned in my last post, but instead think of using the ‘cold’, ‘warm’ and ‘hot’ labels. Ask for introductions and follow up leads. Try out lots of different events and then be selective.

Have an objective if you are investing money in membership. After a while review success and be focused. When at events don’t waste time with people with whom you have no connection, politely move on. To minimise this, plan ahead using delegate lists and then target your best fits.

Next time, tips on networking for trading knowledge.

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Networking: What is it and do I need to do it?

By | Networking | 3 Comments

networkingSo how can we cheer you up in the chaos before the Christmas holidays?  Read on about the art of networking!

Networking: What is it?

Often when we mention the term networking a look of horror creeps across our client’s faces. They imagine selling, cold calling and all that embarrassing awkwardness of being rejected. Stop there! Think of networking as building relationships, about listening, asking questions, being interested, building trust and rapport. This comes more naturally for some, than for others, in true emotional intelligence terms; but it can be learned like any skill.

Why bother?

Networking can help you in the following ways:

  • Creating opportunity for a new job now or in the future
  • Finding new clients/customers/prospects
  • Trading specialist knowledge in your profession, industry or sector

Let’s look at these individually. This time:

Networking for a new job

Research from Henley Business School identified that people were promoted based on 3 key factors: 10% on their technical competence & skill, 30% on their image and 60% on their exposure to the right people…in other words on their ability to network.

So how can you afford not to develop this skill set? It is widely claimed that up to 70% of jobs are secured through networking. So, as a process to find work, networking is more significant than on-line recruitment ads, agencies, media ads etc. Again, how can you afford not to use this process?

A career networking conversation focuses on asking for advice, tips and information in an organisation, profession or industry. Other benefits are soliciting feedback on career goals, finding support for career development, gathering referrals to others who could be helpful and generating and uncovering future possibilities and options.

Whether you are looking for a new job or not, creating a networking plan is a valuable investment of time. It’s easier in the long run if you don’t leave long gaps in talking with people and then appear to only get in touch when you want something.

Getting started

If every person knows about 200 other people, how can you tap into that pool? Think of this pool as contacts. Divide the contacts into 3 groups.  Acquaintances, allies, & advocates.

Acquaintances are friends, neighbours, customers, colleagues with whom you have had minimal interaction. They know you by name and if you requested will probably do a small favour.

Allies are those who know your talents and aspirations. They will go the extra mile to give you names, resources, feedback etc. You respect the advice they give you. They know your expertise and you know theirs.

Advocates know you really, really well and believe in you. They trust you and your reputation and are very willing to speak on your behalf. You are equally supportive of them.

Prioritise your contacts under the 3 headings based on the likely help you can give them and vice versa. Plan regular calls/ emails to stay in touch. Remember small details about them to kick the conversation off. If you have been made redundant, planning a certain number of networking calls is highly effective. If you do feel awkward think how you would feel if someone asked for your advice, you would probably be flattered.

Next time, more tips on networking for:

  • Finding new clients/customers/prospects
  • Trading specialist knowledge in your profession, industry or sector

If you found this useful, please mention us on Twitter.