Networking for the Future

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Networking is a term that many fear and avoid yet it’s essential for business growth. The negative connotations rise from the riff raff who prey on people during professional networking sessions. They are in it for themselves and have no comprehension of how powerful maintaining a network of courageous professional relationships are to their future.

Others become disenchanted by the process due to those who immediately escape a conversation the moment they determine you aren’t a potential customer. They are short sighted, not realizing you may know a dozen perfect customers in your circle of influence that will add to their business growth.

After participating in numerous networking events, I’ve learned that there are three things all business people can use from the experience to grow their business.

Great Courage

It takes a lot of gumption to enter a room of strangers. The initial atmosphere causes many to connect with those they already know rather than exploring the unknown. No matter how skilled the person is they find themselves digging deeper into their soul for the strength to put themselves into the vulnerable realm of possibilities.

Courage is not about being comfortable, but about the choice of facing fear head on. We tend to forget that the courageous around us feel just as vulnerable as we do, but they’ve taken the further step of pressing through the fear courageously. It is merely a choice to take action, while feeling exposed.

This ability to choose courage over fear is a tool that will always force a business to land upright regardless of any temporary setback it might endure. It’s also the formula used by most businesses to grow. We know that businesses are either shrinking based on ignorance and fear, or they are growing because someone was courageous enough to take a risk.

Listening Skills

No one cares if you have a solution for their business unless they first learn that you care about them. Taking time to meet someone in a networking environment requires huge listening skills, especially in the din of most rooms designed for socialization.

Selective listening isn’t considered listening at networking events. The person only listening for a potential buying signal is shortchanging their future. Listening is a tool to learn about the person first and their needs second. Anyone who doesn’t take time to first learn about the person will never care about his or her customer.

The old saying about having two ears and one mouth gives us the perspective of talking a little and listening twice as hard, which actually helps at networking events. It’s also an asset for the person that wants to grow their business. A customer that feels like the vendor understands their need will always be a happy customer.

Clarifying Pitches

Noisy rooms force a person making a pitch at an event to be concise and understood at the audience’s level. Using jargon and rambling on about what you do is a sign that you may not know your core business or what value your current customers see in you.

By sharing your core competencies you avoid using stereotypical phrases, which stops the person listening from lumping you into a group of all others that do the same thing. Your razor sharp focus helps the person understand what differentiates you from the others who carry a similar title.

Setting yourself apart from the stampede of cookie cutter functions is critical to be noticed over the marketing noise that permeates the Internet, business market and event space. A quality pitch is one that is all about the uniqueness that makes you who you are, which can’t be replicated by any competitor.

Having the guts to meet new people, taking time to really hear about who they are and what they are trying to accomplish, and fine tuning your presentation so its easy to distinguish you from others, helps develop long term relationships that will eventually pay off.

Networking is about surrounding yourself with quality people and developing those relationships so you can help them when needed and they can reciprocate when you’re in need. These lifelong skills always drive business growth and force us to continually better ourselves for the next great adventure we face.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

Braving Social Media at Award Ceremonies

Actors are great at developing hype to draw their fans to anticipate the results of an award announcement. They bring their fan base into the ballroom vicariously through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Periscope. The progressive evening puts fans on the edge of their seat and then…nothing. The actor stops the stream of updated posts because he or she doesn’t know what to do when the award goes to another artist.

Publicity boutiques coach their talent on how to push through the loss with skills that increase their fan base. That’s right, the loss can increase the actor’s fan based when it’s handled properly. Here are some of the points taught:

KNOW HOW FANS THINK
Fans love to follow their favorite actors down the red carpet and into the ballroom. Why? Not to watch them win or lose, but to watch them interact with other stars. Fans love to know that “their” star is well connected. This sense of ownership generates compassion and pride every time their actor chats or poses with another. And, if the actor is at a table of stars, all the better. One thing is certain; it’s not about the win. Only the actor is concerned about who receives the statue.

CROSS PROMOTIONS
Networking with other actors that promote through social media increases both actors’ fan base. “Reconnecting” at a ceremony increases the interests of the fans to promote the actor through word of mouth. The more connections made at the ceremonies, the wider the distribution of word of mouth advertising.

THE HUMAN FACTOR
Fans want to be there for the actor’s win, but more importantly they want to see the human experience played out. The fan wants to know the star is just like them – disappointment and all. Fans want to learn how to handle those same types of responses in their own life and they want to learn it from their role model.

BUDDY SHOTS
Taking a great photo with each of the nominees in the actor’s category is a golden opportunity to share respect with peers before the winner is announced. It’s also an ideal moment to snap a picture of the actor sharing a smile with his or her winning “friend.” After all, promoting a congratulatory picture of the actor smiling with the winner will get massive traction in social media – Extremely valuable promotions. And, knowing that the actor’s circle of “friends” are award winners, means it’s only a matter of time before the fans see their actor make it to the big time – Instilling greater loyalty.

There are many more tips given by PR coaches, but the above will greatly accelerate the career of the average actor. It’s all about entertaining the fan base, while revealing the human condition. There is no better set of circumstances for developing true loyalty in fans. Actors must embrace and get excited about the great benefits of a well-promoted loss.

Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers

 

Building an Entourage

EntourageThere are two types of entourages: those made up of yes men that eventually take you out of the game; and, those who work with you to build mutual success. The motion picture star and his entourage is the first that pops into mind, but the Ford, Edison, and Firestone entourage was legendary.

Thomas Edison encouraged his employee Henry Ford, an engineer at Edison’s Illuminating Co., to build his horseless carriage on weekends. Ford was a devoted employee until he was fully funded for his automobile. During his tenure, Ford was the recipient of Edison’s numerous introductions to all kinds of businesspeople, including Harvey Firestone who owned a rubber company. All contributed to the development of the automobile and benefited. Firestone’s most noted benefit was the launching of his tire company. Edison’s provisions included the alternator, wire and lights.

The best entourages in Hollywood provide mutual success to all involved. Every member is trustworthy and paid for his or her workload. Mutual respect positions the team for success, as everyone handles his or her portion of the business with excellence. The best teams are made up of people that work “with” each other and not “for” anyone.

While some entourages are first staffed with friends, most are staffed with experts that soon become friends. There is also a form of like-mindedness involved in the decision making process that moves the team in a unified direction. Dan Aykroyd’s entourage shares his vision with fervor, and all have become motorcycle enthusiasts that dress in black and ride together.

The first person to join an actor’s entourage is typically an agent. The publicist is the second to get on board, followed closely by the personal assistant. Soon a business manager is required, which forces the need for a personal manager. Next is security, if a hint of over zealous or crazy fans get involved. Make-up, wardrobe and a hair stylist also plug into the mix when the timing is right based on the type of work generated. If success continues a producer is added. This is then followed by the necessary connections needed to support a development team.

All above line cast and crewmembers pull entourages together. Some times department heads follow suit with smaller or department based entourages. The number one purpose is for mutually beneficial networking. It is not for narcissists. A person who sets out to create an entourage for their own benefit rarely finds success. However, leaders who pull people together to help those on the team, finds even greater rewards flowing in their direction.

Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers