With a career in sales or business, is networking an art or science? My response is, “A little bit of both.”
The old saying in any sales career is, “people buy from people.” That is more important today than ever before. The most successful people in sales and business are those that make a personal connection to others. As a Business Development Executive, I focus on establishing my relationship with clients and business partners. That is why it is so important to have a strong network of trusted people throughout your career.
Some best practices that I have found helpful in developing and sustaining a strong network is:
Maintain names and contact information in your personal contact application, such as Contacts on your iPhone or Microsoft O365. With business cards a thing of the past, I post my contact information in the chat during online meetings and virtual conferences. Connecting on LinkedIn is also a good follow up after meeting with someone for the first time.
Connect on a personal level. Ask, “what can I do to help you”? Networking is about collaborating by giving something to the network, which will enrich the relationship(s) and support the common goals and interests.
Take notes. I usually ask, “Do you mind if I take a few notes?” The response that I always receive is, “No, I don’t mind.” Taking notes has several benefits when networking. It shows that you are genuinely interested in the conversation, and it also draws others into the topic. Note-taking is also very good for any recall later or follow up needed. Sometimes, I even share my notes after the meeting or call.
Send annual card/email during holidays or special events. When it comes to making the yearly connection with family, friends, and colleagues, I still send holiday cards by mail. Mailing cards is undoubtedly becoming less popular with digital communications and the expense of printing, and mailing the cards is not economical. However, I still feel connecting to those on my holiday card list as part of my annual tradition. There is usually a text message back from someone I haven’t heard from in a while that will comment on my now-adult children or our dog. It is a small gesture that goes a long way.
Participate in digital engagement and social collaboration. Online networking in 2021 is what we do, like it or not. Yes, “Zoom” meetings and happy hours are what we do in 2021. I do miss early breakfast meetings, crowded trade shows, and just talking to strangers while on “booth duty.” Social and digital networking is not new but learning how to interact and present yourself online is more important than ever. Some people are just naturals. When I participate in an online meeting, I focus on the speakers and the content (no multi-tasking), and I try to engage everyone on the call by asking a few open and closed questions. Bring energy and your online persona to the meeting and be “webcam” ready at all times.
Volunteer. Some of my most rewarding personal and professional achievements have come from volunteering. My time spent with my teams and peers at local non-profit organizations brought both a sense of accomplishment and team building. In my personal life, I contribute to my local communities with many of the same skills I use in my professional career. The purpose of giving back for the greater good is priceless. The networking is secondary to the overall experience.
Engage in professional organizations. Professional organizations are practically synonymous with networking with peers in a sales or business development role. Often, the organization will call for members to support committees and leadership roles on topics or planning conferences.
If you have other networking best practices, please post your thoughts and ideas. The exchange of ideas and points of view is the ultimate outcome of networking!
“Hello, step up to the blue circle on the floor. I need you to do three things before going into the room for vaccination. First, take off your jacket. Second, roll up your sleeve. Third, take all of your belongings into the vaccination station where you will receive your COVID shot – and don’t forget your CDC card!”
That was my script as a Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteer at the Arlington County COVID Vaccination Clinic last week. The day started early with a 30-minute briefing by the Point of Dispensing (POD) leaders. Promptly at 9:00, everyone was in their assigned location as we started with the first set of Group 1a appointments for the day.
The POD was Arlington County employees collaborating with Arlington MRC volunteers and representatives from the Arlington County Police Department. Our goal was to administer 150 vaccinations for the day. The process was efficient and well managed from the steps of initial temperature screening at the door, registration, ID validation, staging or “flow” before entry into the vaccination station, and finally, the observation area. The observation area is a 15-30 minute post-vaccination waiting room in the event anyone had any adverse reactions to the vaccine.
By 5:00 PM, we met the mission – 150 vaccinations in healthcare professionals’ arms. It was the end of a long week, but just the beginning of an immunization program to help the community get back to some sense of normalcy that we all miss. To learn more about volunteering with the Arlington MRC, check out the website at https://health.arlingtonva.us/medical-reserve-corps/. The plan for Arlington County’s COVID Vaccine Plan is available at https://www.arlingtonva.us/covid-19/vaccines/.
On February 2, 2021 Arlington County published a YouTube video: COVID-19 Vaccinations: Inside an Arlington County Public Health Clinic. Check it out at https://youtu.be/atlQ6-iiMnw
Let me know about your COVID vaccination experience, and remember to “spread the word, not the virus”! Mask up and stay safe.
This year’s Christmas present from my son, Brendan, was a book titled: Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life https://speedbird.wordpress.com/my-books/ by Adam Greenfield. With a glance at the Table of Contents, I thought the book will be a resource for the NoSlackr blog.
The first chapter is the Smartphone – the network of the self. Since I use my iPhone a lot, it made sense to write about the technology I use daily. I am a big fan of apps with good design and practical use, such as paying for coffee, ordering at my favorite restaurant, or purchasing an airline ticket and boarding a flight.
The author, Adam Greenfield, states: “We find that a great many of the things city dwellers once relied upon to manage everyday life as recently as ten years ago have by now been subsumed by a single object, the mobile phone. This single platform swallowed most all the other things people once had floating around in their pockets and purses, and in so doing, it became something else entirely.” I agree. My large purse from 10+ years ago is in the past. I travel light these days – iPhone, keys, lip balm.
Adam also reminds us that there is a price for using this radical technology: sharing our data and privacy. So “yes,” my iPhone is too smart!
One of the hot topics that I am encountering these days in business is “personal branding” as digital selling is more critical than ever. So what is Personal Branding, and why is it important to your career in sales or business?
When I started my career in consulting years ago, one of my mentors suggested that I develop “my executive voice”. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, so I began looking for books and classes on the topic. After searching and asking colleagues if they had any suggestions or examples of executive voice, I discovered that I needed to communicate with confidence and speak with a point of view as a consultant. Their advice included not only my verbal communications but also how I presented my physical self. That was an “ah-ha” moment in my career that was instrumental in discovering my personal brand.
Today, personal branding is who we are in the digital space. We interact and engage personally and professionally via text messaging, social media, video conferencing, blogging, vlogging, podcasting, and more. Our audience is now broader and more transparent than ever before. So it is more important than ever before to be authentic with your brand. Shelly Lazarus, Chairman Emeritus of Ogilvy & Mather, said it best in this article in Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2014/07/the-former-ceo-of-ogilvy-mather-on-personal-branding Shelly’s recommendation to “be yourself” is solid advice to anyone in business, sales, or even in our personal lives.
As an emerging blogger, I look forward to engaging with the online community with authenticity and enthusiasm to share. More to come in 2021!
It is a Saturday morning in December and two weeks from Christmas. Usually, I would be shopping at the mall for gifts and having a nice lunch at one of the restaurants. But not in the year 2020. I just completed Zoom training as a Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteer. The Commonwealth of Virginia is preparing for the mass COVID-19 vaccination efforts as part of the national plan submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
During this training today, I learned that Virginia would manage the statewide vaccination via the local Point of Dispensing (PODs) efforts. PODs are community locations where state and local agencies dispense Medical Countermeasures (MCMs) to the public during a public health emergency. To aid in rapidly dispensing MCMs, the local public health department will use two types of PODs, open and closed.
The first type of POD is a Closed POD. A Closed POD will collaborate with hospitals and other health care facilities to vaccinate health care workers and staff. Other Closed PODs include private employers such as those that employ essential workers, etc. A Closed POD is not open to the general public.
The second type of POD is an Open POD. An open POD is available to anyone. Open PODs are community-based with locations in public buildings or outdoor settings such as parking lots.
In Virginia, the first COVID-19 vaccination efforts will deploy Closed PODs at hospitals. Healthcare workers are the population vaccinated in Phase 1A. As stated during the training, there will be more to come as plans evolve with the nationwide planning and supply chain logistics. To stay informed of the latest, I plan to follow the social media updates via the Virginia Department of Health Twitter Account @VDHgov and the hashtag #VaccinateVirginia.
I’m looking forward to working in the PODs over the next few months. With the success of these efforts, let’s hope December 2021 will be full of shopping and good cheer. In the meantime, see you in the POD!
As a new member of the WordPress.com community, I will repurpose the prompts from the Blogging for Beginners course.
Whyare you blogging publicly instead of keeping a diary?
I have been a consultant for 30+ years and most of my writing has been for business purposes. As I prepare to transition to life after a corporate career, I plan to write and share my interests with others that engage in digital collaboration.
What topics do you think you’ll write about?
Nothing specific comes to mind right now. I need to identify who my audience is and how I can promote engagement and value with my writing. I enjoy collaborating with people with a positive and constructive message.
Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
Great question. I am still in the exploration phase with my blog. It will be interesting to see how this blog progresses and evolves.
If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what do you hope to accomplish?
The plan is to engage with a broader community of writers and perhaps clients that need support with digital communications and marketing. Success will be measured by number of followers and quality of online interaction.
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