Intentional Networking: 9 Effective and Efficient Steps to Success (925 Words)

By Patti DeNucci and Ed Rigsbee, CAE, CSP

Ever wonder why some people are so powerfully connected, are the first to hear about great opportunities, and earn more quality referrals? The answer may surprise you. To attract more success in business, you don’t have to network more; you just have to network more intentionally. This means becoming more focused, engaging, trusted, and memorable. And not necessarily with more people, but with “your people”—meaning the people who naturally bring the most value into your world.
After years of experience and study, we’ve discovered your networking success boils down to nine critical steps. Here they are for you, presented in their most basic form and derived from Patti’s award-winning book The Intentional Networker: Attracting Powerful Relationships, Referrals & Results in Business.
1. Know yourself. It truly is not selfish or narcissistic to practice self-awareness. This involves knowing your strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, passions, preferences, and traits. Fact is, knowing yourself is a key component to creating success and building connection. It breeds authenticity, enthusiasm, and discernment, which helps others see and “get” the real you more readily.

2. Know what you want. If you are vague, ambivalent, scattered, or unsure of your vision, intention, and goals, then you are likely drifting along, preserving the status quo, and possibly even invisible to others. Clarity and focus go a long way to helping you become more memorable, which in turn means others are clearer and more focused on how to help you.

3. Show up in alignment with the above two points. Everything about you, from your attitude and appearance to your correspondence and conversation, gives off messages. What’s more, you have mere seconds to make a first impression. If your image doesn’t line up with whom you say you are and what you aspire to, then confusion, disengagement, and distrust can result. Be sure everything associated with you and your career or business is congruent with who you are and what you want.

4. Focus on quality, not quantity. People often believe that doing lots of networking and having hundreds of contacts and connections equal greater success. Not so fast! Rather than adding more new people to your network, invest some time identifying your most valuable connections; the ones who not only bring you referrals and opportunities, but also provide you with valuable insights, information, and support. Focus on these top connections for a while. The same goes for your networking activities. Which ones really bring energy, value, and results to your career or business? Next, make a list of the traits that make these top people and events valuable to you. Note for future reference how you originally met or heard about them. This information will help you recognize and attract more of the same. You’ve just created a faster track to your success!

5. Say no with grace. Once you identify your top contacts and networking activities, you’ll start to see who and what no longer serves you. It will be easier to prioritize, which is crucial to your networking efficiency and success. Figure out who and what needs to be edited out (or given less attention). Gradually—and graciously—back away from those who drag, drain, and disenable you.

6. Focus on your best connections. Stay in touch with your best connections. This means reaching out and staying top-of-mind on a regular basis. Invest a few minutes each day to sending friendly, helpful, grateful, congratulatory, or supportive notes to your valued connections. Set up one or two weekly strategic coffee or lunch dates. Attend a few targeted business or association events each month. Organize and make time in your weekly routine to follow up and succeed utilizing the above. The key is doing these things regularly and consistently.

7. Stand out in the crowd. You just never know where or when an important conversation will take place, when an opportunity will arise, or when you will run into a valued colleague or customer. Be ready, alert, and aware. Live your brand and allow it to guide how you show up and conduct yourself. Show genuine interest in other people by being the first to say hello, offering a professional handshake, and engaging in friendly conversation. Ask questions that show interest. Then take the time to actively listen to what others have to say. With a little extra effort and courtesy you can make connections and meetings so much more memorable and valuable, for you and for others.

8. Give first. This isn’t about giving away your expertise or time randomly. It’s about offering a positive attitude and a willingness to listen and offer ideas to those you meet. This dramatically separates you from people who focus only on themselves. Certainly it’s okay to be purposeful and focused on what you’re seeking, but sincere acts of generosity are rare and endearing.

9. Reap your reward. Consistently practice steps 1 through 8 and you’ll be on your way to making more powerful connections, earning more likability and trust, and attracting more referrals. But add one more step: thoughtfully, concisely, and most of all humbly (and without assumption) educate others on what you’re seeking and what constitutes good opportunities and referrals for you. If you are generous in giving to others, help them respond in kind.

These are just a few basics that can help you slow down, get focused, and sow the seeds of more powerful relationships and quality referrals. Take the next step to learning even more by requesting your free sample chapter from Patti’s book The Intentional Networker. Email her at Patti@IntentionalNetworker.com today.

Copyright © 2013 by Patti DeNucci & Ed Rigsbee

Patti DeNucci is a business networking and referral attraction expert, professional speaker, and award-winning author of The Intentional Networker: Attracting Powerful Relationships, Referrals & Results in Business. She is a founding board member and current president of the Austin chapter of the National Speakers Association. www.IntentionalNetworker.com

Permission to reprint articles by Ed Rigsbee, CSP, CAE & Patti DeNucci is hereby given to all print, broadcast and electronic media provided that the contact information at the end of each article is included in your publication. Organizations publishing articles electronically, a live, click-able link to http://www.rigsbee.com and http://www.intentionalnetworker.com/ must also be included with the body of the article. Additionally, please mail one copy of your publication to:

Rigsbee Enterprises, Inc., 1746 Calle Yucca, Suite 200 , Thousand Oaks , CA 91360

1. Permission to reprint articles by Ed Rigsbee, CSP, CAE & Patti DeNucci, at no charge is granted with the agreement that:
o a. Both author bios are to be included following each article used.
o b. One copy of the publication in which the article is published is to be provided to Rigsbee Research.
o c. A fee per article will be expected for articles published without the closing bio and contact information; $300.
2. Permission is also granted for reasonable:
o Editing content and industry specific example exchange.
o Length.
o Article title change.
3. Electronic publishing of articles must include a live, click-able link to http://www.rigsbee.com/ and http://www.intentionalnetworker.com/.
Any questions please email to Ed@Rigsbee.com. Thank you.

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A Happy Worker is a Productive Worker (870 words)

By Marilyn Tam, Ph.D. & Ed Rigsbee, CAE, CSP

Unhappiness among workers in America is costing a shocking $300 billion per year in lost productivity, the Gallup-Healthways estimates. Their recent Well-Being Index shows that Americans are increasingly unhappy with their jobs and work environments. When people aren’t happy about their jobs or their employers, they don’t show up consistently, they produce less, and their work quality suffers. A recent Harvard Business Review article stated that the level of happiness has a profound impact on workers’ creativity, productivity, commitment and collegiality.

Current American Psychological Association research findings show that people want contentment, love and happiness derived from meaningful work. They want nourishing personal relationships, a healthy mind and body, a spiritual core, and a reason for living. But with only 24 hours in a day and all of the competing demands of modern life, the question is–how? Is it even possible? How can you as a manager facilitate your employees’ happiness and consequently increase your company’s success as well as your own?

First you as well as your company need a defined mission/reason for being. With an established purpose, you can manage and prioritize the energies and resources to best fulfill the mission. Work and life have meaning when we feel what we are doing creates worth and is in alignment with what we value. There are five life factors that need to be kept in dynamic balance to achieve and maintain happiness and productivity. Understanding people’s motivators will help you structure the work environment and to develop products and services that truly serves your customers.

  1. Money and other Means of Value Exchange

In today’s world, money is the primary, and sometimes the only form of work compensation. Yet surveys have now shown that the most effective motivator for increased performance and creativity is when one feels that their work have meaning and value. Understanding what drives people is helpful in the design of incentive programs to increase satisfaction and consequently performance. Show people how their jobs impact the overall success of the company’s mission, and tie their remuneration to their contribution to the objectives of the organization. That way they can comprehend how their efforts are intrinsic to the wellbeing to company and be motivated to fully contribute to its success.

  1. Relationships

Human beings are inherently social, we need honest and positive connection with others to survive and thrive in the workplace as well as in our personal lives. Healthy relationships will build trust and enhance openness and collaboration instead of fear and reluctant compliance. Structure a participatory workplace environment and allow for some flexibility in work hours so that your associates have the ability to adjust their schedules when it is needed. When people feel that they are respected and trusted to perform at a high level, it encourages them to strive to do even better. Understanding human relationships we can plan and act accordingly in business and life for greater productivity and satisfaction.

  1. Body

The American Psychology Association tells us that stress is the biggest cause of illness today, and oftentimes workplace stress is the primary culprit. Sick or unhealthy workers are unable to function optimally and their performance suffers. Unhealthy workers also cost the company more in healthcare costs and absenteeism. Encourage everyone to take their allotted vacation days; time away rejuvenates the mind and body, and they will return refreshed and energized. Ensure that the mission of the company is clearly shared with everyone so that they understand that their work has meaning. People are happier and can do more when they feel that they are contributing to a worthwhile purpose.

  1. Community

Human beings need community in order to survive and thrive. When your company is actively involved in the surrounding community you have a source of local support. Your community is also an excellent place to get input and feedback on your products and services. In today’s global economy, your community encompasses the whole world, and that perspective will help you develop your company’s offerings to best suit the market. Encourage and support volunteerism in the communities your company works in. Connect with nonprofits and other organizations that serve your market. For example, if your company sells products or services to small businesses, volunteer and affiliate with SCORE, the SBA’s non-profit consulting arm to small businesses. This will contribute to the wellbeing of your community, and also give you valuable input about your customers’ needs and concerns while strengthening your business network.

  1. Spirit

A belief in something greater than ourselves sustains us when we are in pain, scared or in dire need. That same power enhances positive experiences and gives us more joy, compassion and energy. Recognizing the power of beliefs can guide your work policies to honor others’ beliefs and facilitate their practice of them. When people feel respected for who they are and what they believe, they are happier and more productive individuals.

Increased productivity through happier employees can be realized with a modicum of energy exerted, by you and your organization’s leadership, in the above five areas. To help you better achieve success and balance for yourself and for your organization, several resources have been made available to you at no charge, please visit http://www.marilyntam.com/gift.aspx

Copyright © 2013 Marilyn Tam & Ed Rigsbee

Are Your Corporate Policies Up to Date?  (1024 words)

By Ralph G. Martinez, Esq. & Ed Rigsbee, CAE, CSP

If your employee is punching in a telephone number or raising their cell phone to their ear while driving, you might be liable.  A growing number of states in the USA and several foreign countries are making it a crime to use a cell phone while driving unless one’s cell phone operates “hands free” or has a “hands free” device.

On July 1, 2008 law enforcement officers in two more states, Washington and California, begin writing citations to drivers who do not comply with the “hands free” cell phone law that became effective on that day. In California, a ticket now costs a driver that violates the law $25 for the first offense and $50 for each violation thereafter. Drivers that are minors are prohibited entirely from using a cell phone or a “mobile device” while driving. What is your company’s current, and written, policy on cell phone use while driving on the job?

States Adopting New Laws

California and Washington State join Connecticut, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York, and the U.S. Virgin Islands in completely banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Even more states prohibit minors from using a cell phone at all when driving. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia in the United States have adopted laws that deny cell phone use to driving minors.

If you travel outside of the United States, you will recognize a similar pattern. Twenty-five foreign countries have laws that restrict or completely ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Australia, Austria, Britain, Brazil, Chili, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Israel, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Philippines, Romania, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden,Switzerland, Taiwan, and Turkey have taken action to restrict the use of cell phones in cars.

If your state or country does not restrict using a cell phone in cars, you can anticipate that soon they will.

The trend across civilized society is to consider hand-held cell phone use a driver distraction and a contributing cause of many accidents.Many states that have not enacted a “hands free” cell phone law have been gathering collision data where cell phone use was involved. It is a reasonable that law makers will use this accumulated data to sell the need for a restriction or ban of hand-held cell phones in cars. Some states have declined to enact a restrictive use law, but have defined the use of cell phones in cars as a “careless driving”[1] or defined the use of a cell phone while driving within the definition of “distraction.”[2]

Productivity and Connectedness

Technological advances improve our productivity and connectedness.  Drivers across the United States redeem some of their driving time each day by staying connected with parents, children, and friends during their commute. Many also conduct business by telephone during these long commute or travel times. In decades past, you would have to pull over to the side of the highway when you found a telephone booth or a pay telephone. This may return as the preferred way to stay connected in route, particularly for driving minors. Technology may give us advantages, but they sometimes bring unexpected changes in our lifestyle. The law all over the world is responding to the increased number of accidents that involve drivers being distracting on a cell phone. The law is merely catching up to the new risk introduced by new technology that has been embraced and exploited by all of us.

Higher Potential Liability for Employers

The protection of these new safety laws also creates new risks for you, the businesses owners and leaders in the United States and elsewhere.  In most areas of the United States , if an employee violates a safety law while involved in a car accident on the job, they and their employer may be held negligent, even if they are otherwise driving well. Generally the concept is referred to as negligence per se.Lawyers use the principle of negligence per se as a shortcut to establish liability in law suits to win damages for people injured in accidents. The new wave of cell phone laws are safety laws designed to eliminate distractions and prevent accidents. Depending on the extent of the injuries, this financial risk to an employer could be very substantial. If the cited employee driver has violated the cell phone law before, significant punitive damages could be assessed against the employer. Negligence per se as a principle will be used more frequently in personal injury cases when a driver was using a cell phone.

Employee Handbook and Written Policy

As an employer, you should adopt a written policy and/or amend their employee handbook to require strict compliance by their employees with the “hands free” cell phone law that is adopted by their country, state, county or township, or city by all employees. Many businesses may instruct their employees not to use cell phones while driving and to let incoming calls go to voicemail to be returned outside of the car in a safe area. If your business issues cell phones to its employees, or necessarily requires the use of a cell phone by its employees, make sure that the cell phones can be used “hands free.” Note that a cell phone that has a speaker phone function will not necessarily comply with the law.  Employers who hire employees under age 18 should prohibit their use of a cell phone in a car. The policy should be acknowledged by employees in writing and enforced by the company. An attorney can help your business assess the specific risk to it and how to protect against that risk with an appropriate policy and implemented management practice.  We have developed a policy and are helping many businesses protect against this new risk from this new safety law. Adjusting to these developments not only will allow you drive more safely on the highways, but to continue with your business efforts – in both cases, undistracted.