So we’ve recently spoken about How To Network, but what’s the point? Is there really any benefit. I’m not just going to tell you – Yes! Instead I’m going to list what I believe to be the four key benefits of networking. Whether you’re an intern, a CEO, a company director… Everyone should be networking!
While opportunities may only be one point in my list of benefits of networking, it could in fact be broken down to three or four.
I’m talking career opportunities – Information in regards to a new position opening up, someone retiring, looking for someone with particular skills.
I’m talking business opportunities – At IBM I was an account manager. I’d network with existing and potential clients to see how we can create new fulfilment opportunities. In turn this would help our client, generate income for the business and demonstrate that I can lead generate.
The important to think to remember is that with the amount of opportunities that come your way you’ll be unable to capitalize on them all. Not all of them will be the right fit, some might not suit you personally but perhaps someone you’ve previously networked with (a business partner or colleague etc.)
Don’t be afraid to pass on or share opportunities. This will demonstrate you as a key networker (someone who knows a number of influential people) and you can expect to receive information about potential opportunities from the people you share opportunities with… – Just be sure to ask the person you’re speaking with first. Some opportunities can be confidential or private.
Having people in your network to talk to also provides you with the opportunity to gain advice. This could be advice on how to use a particular piece of software, how to deal with a particular client etc.
Think of networking as a giant Google tailored specifically to your industry, company and / or situation. All of this information would be much harder – if not impossible to get a hold of if you didn’t network.
3. Increased Confidence
I remember when I first started networking. It was my introductory work with a number of other IBM students. I was nervous – and rightly so. I didn’t feel comfortable, social awkward I’d feel like I didn’t belong.
However, by networking regularly my confidence increased. Before long I was networking with senior clients and members of staff both inside and outside of my department.
This increased confidence is really important as you’re career development is going to be highly dependent on talking to the right people and making those all important connections.
Probably one you didn’t expect on this list – Friendship. One of the very true benefits of networking is gaining friendships. You’re likely to spend 100’s of hours with your key networking associates so it’s no surprise that you’ll be come friends.
It’s one of those dreams right? Winning the lottery… I think at one point or another we all imagine what it must be like.
My grandparents bought a lottery ticket ever single week religiously, however I’ve never really been a big lottery player. So when Lottoland got in touch and asked me what I thought of their website, I was intrigued.
In auto-response mode I quickly Googled ‘Lottoland’ and clicked on the first link, here are just some of the prize jackpots waiting to be won that greeted me back.
A chance to win £10 million every 4 minutes? Win £25 million with the EuroMillions or £143 million playing in my favourite country of all time the US?
All life changing amounts, once again I’m left thinking about what I’d do with the money…
Buy a house? A fast car?… or two… Travel first class? Buy an island?… Wait?How much does an island cost? I’d treat my parents, obviously. A suite in Vegas on the strip? Private jet? A cruise? – I REALLY want to go on a cruise. I’d give to charity, because let’s face it after all that self indulgence I’d need some sort of self redeeming quality.
I’m woken from my daydream to my girlfriend Helen waving in front of my face…
All this means is that you basically get a line of numbers in the same way, the prizes are the same too. It’s just a different way of placing the bet. All it really means is that you have lots more chances to win big jackpots that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to.
Lottoland offer various different ways to add credit to your account. In fact, if you add £100 to your account via bank transfer you get an additional 3% (you don’t see that kind of discount when you’re in the local shop getting your lottery ticket)
They also have fantastic player protection settings. I’m always keen to talk about gambling responsibility, even when discussing something as simple as the lottery or matched betting. So I really respect companies who look after their players well being and offer credit or time settings that help people stay in control.
So, with the chance to win millions of pounds while sitting on your sofa in your PJ’s I guess there’s only one question I need to ask… What would you do if you won the lottery?
During my short stint in the corporate world I’ve had it drilled into me. Network, Network, Network. At the time I was 19 so forgive me for not taking the whole topic oh so seriously. In fact, it was only when I moved out of the corporate world, past my job as a director and into my life as a blogger that I truly understood the importance of networking.
Many people believe that networking is all about knowing more people (or in some cases knowing everyone), however they are wrong. Which is why todays topic is not about networking but learning how to network effectively.
Who Matters Most?
At IBM we were told to network with EVERYONE. It could be the person sat next to you at a hot desk that’s doing something entirely different to you, in a different department etc. Even just the 200 other students who are on the same programme as you but in different departments.
Not only is this wrong, it’s also impossible.
Instead figure out the critical few. It could be a co-worker, customer, mentor, or someone who you’ll find knows just about everyone (often through their long history of being at the company). These contacts are the people who you believe are going to be most valuable to your career.
That’s not to say you should dismiss everyone else. There’s no doubt value in each and every person you meet. So ask questions, listen, and learn.
Remain In Contact
Once you have identified those critical connections you need to keep in regular contact. The amount you keep in touch and to what degree is likely to vary depending on your relationship however at a minimum I’d advise once a quarter.
Learn about the person, their interests, their goals, and follow up with them enquiring about those.
An I’m not talking about keeping contact on Facebook or Twitter. Real life conversations, make phone calls and send personalised emails. The trouble with social media is that we can think we’ve spoken to a person and know what’s going on in their life from a single tweet or Facebook post. When in actual fact we might have not spoken to that person for months.
Find A Way To Help
This is perhaps my favourite part of networking. That initial contact. I’m a people pleaser. Which is why I’m always trying to find out the troubles, needs, concerns and desires of every one of my contacts.
Or, often more importantly, every one of the people I want to make one of my contacts.
Regardless of whether the person is a CEO or simply a peer. There’s always something that you’ll be able to offer – you just need to find it.
At IBM I was quick to realise I was the only one competent with HTML within my department. So, I offered to help my managers, manager (damn those were the days, when managers had managers who had managers, who also had managers – yes, it went on…) in redesigning the newsletter sent out to the department.
Think People, Not Positions
It’s a lot easier to know someone and form a connection early in that person’s career. Which is why I urge you to befriend the person who is at the same level as you but a leader, a person who’s at the very top of your class.
Because it’s likely to be those people who in 5 – 10 years are going to be influences, CEO’s. Generally people who are much harder to connect with once they make it to that higher level.
There we have it. My four key tips on how to network effectively. If you’re looking to take your ‘how to network effectively’ to another level. Then consider picking up Dale Carnegie’s, How to Win Friends & Influence People. The book may have been released in the late 1930’s however, it’s commonly known as the very best book on networking with people in the world!
Do you often find yourself agreeing to things at home or at work that you simply don’t have the energy, time or mental capacity to take on?
Until recently I found myself helping everyone. I’d try and do everything. Please everyone. An unsurprisingly in the end, everyone was happy – except me!
That was at least until I learnt how to say no. This one syllable word is so difficult to say for so many of us. Yet, it’s so empowering and can completely transform our lives. Which is why today I’m dedicating an entire post on; How to say no.
Start With Why
Mentally explain to yourself why you’re saying no to this person. Are they a constant source of stress in your life? Are they unappreciative? Unsupportive? Do they provide you with any value in return? Have you more pressing issues to deal with?
We often find that if we struggle to say no, others can take advantage of our kindness. So remember, you are in control of your life – not others. You decide what tasks to accept, meeting to attend or activities to participate in during your free time.
Be honest as to your reasoning behind saying no.
If (or more than likely when) you’re caught lying it’s not only embarrassing to yourself, but it can have negative repercussions on your relationship with that person. It’s also likely to lead to a feeling of guilt. Not because you’ve said no, but because you’ve lied.
Don’t be afraid to justify your reasoning as personal development / personal space time. Anyone who truly cares about you as a person will appreciate your honesty, and your reasoning and wont expect you to stretch beyond your means.
Be Firm, But Polite
Finding the balance between politely declining a request whilst also being firm to avoid being pushed into an answer we didn’t want to give is difficult. Often starting with a thank you, and following up with your answer is a great way to balance the conversation.
I’m sorry but I really can’t take on anything else at the moment.
Thank you for thinking of me. I’m quite busy right now. Perhaps another time.
I’d love to be able to help you out, but I just don’t feel up to it at the moment.
Unfortunatly, I don’t need a new roof (double glazing, vacuum cleaner etc). I’m happy with what I have thank you.
This Doesn’t Make You A Bad Person
Finally, remember. Saying no doesn’t mean that you are being rude, selfish or unkind.
A lot of the reasoning as to why we struggle with how to say no comes from our childhood. When we were younger we’re taught by our elders that saying no was inappropriate and that saying yes is the correct and polite thing to say.
Now we’re adults, we’re mature and able to make our own decisions. As well as knowing the difference between right and wrong. Therefore answering no shouldn’t be a word that’s off limits. Instead it should be something which we decide on ourselves based on our own discretion.
It’s a little over one week until we leave England although this time it wont be for a couple of nights. Instead we’ll be gone for eight weeks, only coming back in August for a conference and a wedding before setting off once again.
We’re hoping to become digital nomads.
We’ve sold our house, sold our car, and sold 90% of our belongings in the hope of being able to balance work and travel long-term.
We’ve invested $99 in a lifetime membership to NomadList. Created by the start up genius that is Pieter Levels. This nifty site allows you to filter destinations based on there ‘nomad rate’ you can also add specific requirements such as ‘Within Europe’ or ‘Gay Friendly’.
Of course, our nomad adventures are VERY budget friendly. Which means we’re likely to find ourselves on long bus journeys and overnight train rides. To get through all that and into the real spirit of travelling we’ve created an awesome iTunes playlist.
Let us know your favourite travelling song, so we can add it to our list!
Helen and I have recently found ourselves in a comfortable place in our lives. In fact for the first time in three years it feels as though I’m on a treadmill and I’m able to keep up with it, rather than running behind struggling to keep going.
I think everyone assumed that technology would make our lives easier. However, that simply hasn’t been the case. Whether your a business owner like us, a student, a mum or dad you can often feel as though there aren’t enough hours in the day. That you’ve simply not time to do everything that you need to.
Having coped with this for three years, I want to tell you my five things to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Hopefully, you can find a method that can help you going forward.
Take A Nap or A Shower
I know that if Helen is feeling overwhelmed then everything she seems to touches goes wrong. She makes things worse, and begins a vicious circle of her getting mad at herself and doing something else wrong. Now as soon as either of us see the signs we ensure she goes for a shower or takes a nap. It’s amazing what a simple hour refresher can do.
It can be hard to pull yourself away from something. Taking the necessary ‘me time’ required when things seem so pressing. However, it’s important to understand the long-term benefits of doing so and agreeing with yourself to make this hour back later when you’re feeling better.
Many of us can find ourselves becoming overwhelmed because we simply agree to do too much. Whether it be for ourselves to further our studies or careers or for others through attending meals and parties.
We’re taking on too much and then struggling to deal with the mountain of stuff we’ve taken on. Simple maths tells us that if we remove some of the things we’re taking on we’re going to feel less overwhelmed.
You’re probably reading this saying “Everything I do, I do because I have to, because I need to!!” and I’ve often felt like this too. That said it’s important to remember that sometimes we can trick ourselves into being busy rather than being productive.
I’ve learnt to prioritise what’s really important, cut ties with friends who seem to need me too much but never give back. I’ve learnt to delegate the things I can’t do easily, or that take up too much of my time. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m somewhat a control freak. So, it’s been hard to hand over the rains on many tasks. However, I’ve trained myself to find less time consuming methods of doing things and found people better than I could ever imagine to do things quicker and better than I ever could.
Focus On Now
Sometimes we create our own sense of feeling overwhelmed. Even when we don’t have to. I for one am completely guilty of doing this. If you are Feeling overwhelmed by events taking place in a couple of days, a week, a month from now. Plenty of which I couldn’t do any earlier even if I wanted to.
This one is in caps because it’s my number one. One of the greatest things to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed the first thing I do is clean (and de-clutter). It’s sometimes the easiest thing to do, and can have the most profound affect.
Now, I’m not saying spend all day cleaning the entire house top to bottom leaving you with no time to do whatever else you need to do. Instead focus on a particular area whether it be a desk, a draw, a room.
Cleaning isn’t found to only help your feelings of being overwhelmed. In fact studies have shown it helps you elevate stress and anxiety too. Becoming a minimalist I found myself in a constant state of ‘clean’ which helped neutralize my feelings of being overwhelmed.
Let me tell you something, nobody is good at multitasking.
Multitasking is the definition of spreading your attention across many tasks. Therefore by definition it means not giving any single task your full attention. If you really need to get something done then you should be focusing on it one-hundred percent.
Avoid starting anything else on your to-do list or breaking off to do anything else until that task has been completed. Then enjoy the reward of ticking it off your to-do list and moving on.
Not only should you find yourself less stressed and overwhelmed you should also find that the results of your work are much better too.
There we have it. My five things to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed. I hope that regardless of your situation you manage to put what I’ve said into action. No one fix is going to be right for all, you may find somethings work and somethings don’t – and that’s ok. It’s going to be trial and error until you find what’s right for you. If you find yourself struggling long-term then it’s important that you speak to your spouse, friends, family and / or your GP to see how they can help you further.
While everyone is busy spring cleaning their houses, I’m spending days sat at my Apple Macbook organising my digital life. Truth be told I’ve more digital clutter than I have physical clutter.
I’m a real advocate for minimalism, but it’s not something I practice when it comes to my 12,367 unread emails and my minefield of desktop files haphazardly strewn across the screen. An unorganised digital life can be easy to hide, but just like physical clutter it can make finding the important things a real mission.
So, I decided to invest the time in making my digital life more organised, saving myself time, increasing my productivity and saving me some of my hard earned cash!
It only seemed right that I pass on my words of wisdom in this blog post and teach you how to organise your digital life too, right?
Upgrade & Update
There’s never a good time to update your software and re-start your laptop or computer. So, if like me you’ve been clicking that ‘remind me tomorrow’ button for the past six weeks, take an hour out and upgrade those old software programs and get your computer running faster than ever before.
Not only will this help you increase your productivity, and give you access to new features it’s also a security risk to be running old software on your computer as many updates include things such as security patches to prevent the software from any viruses.
Organise Your Inbox
Most of us have had our email accounts for over a decade now, and in that time what we like, and dislike has changed… Heck, I’ve gone from studying for my GCSE’s to being a company director in that time.
So it’s safe to say the marketing emails we were getting 10 years ago are unlikely to be relevant to who we are today. So instead of just repeatedly hitting the delete button use a free online web service such as unroll.me and remove yourself from those email lists.
Once you’ve done that set up folders for certain emails such as work, online shopping receipts etc. and create mail filters to flag up and in some cases auto-file emails to save yourself time and help you keep on top of things.
Delete! Delete! Delete!
Now let’s talk about the computer application you last opened 4 years ago when you were studying Architecture at University or that friend you’ve got in your mobile contacts that you’ve not spoken to since 2010…
It’s time to let things go…
When it comes to friends on social media, if I’ve not seen them or spoken to them in the past year they get deleted. When it comes to applications if I’ve not used it in the past six months it goes in the trash.
You’ll be surprised how many Facebook friends you’re left with once all that is said and done.
Same goes for your smartphone too, for too long have we left games like Flappy Birds and photos such as that parking ticket so you don’t forget what time you need to get back to your car by. Delete applications you no longer use and need, delete unnecessary photos and text messages.
Take Control Of Your Bookmarks
I’m a huge fan of bookmarks, however unlike files they are easy to have but never notice. Which means that remembering to sort through them on a regular basis can be tricky. Which can often leave you with over 100 sites and pages bookmarked when really you only ever use 10 of them…
Take control of your bookmark manager, if you’ve not visited the website in the last 12 months delete it. Then sort, sort, sort! Use acronyms for websites and folders to minimise the amount of space they take up on your bookmark bar giving you access to more content quicker.
Take Advantage of The Cloud
‘The Cloud’ has to be one of the most annoying phrases of the 21st century right… I mean nobody actually knows what it is, only that in a time of need it’s able to do some pretty amazing things to share our files with friends, or restore them from the unknown.
Here’s a brief explanation of the cloud;
When you take a picture on your smartphone, it is stored on your phone’s internal memory drive. However, when you upload the photos to Instagram, you are uploading it to the cloud.
Having files in the cloud not only allows you to access them from anywhere, it also provides a great back-up service. No more corrupt hard drives or missing pen drives.
Better still most digital cloud services provide you with space for free (up to around 2GB)
Turn The Physical to Digital
One of my biggest New Years resolutions for 2017 is to actually take from the physical and move to the digital. Now, I’m not talking about note keeping. No I moved from physical notes and to do lists to digital a long time ago. I’m talking about photographs and family videos.
Lets face it, looking at a photograph as an actual photograph is a thing of the past. Sharing it on Facebook and tagging everyone and anyone is the new. Just like sitting down to watch a family video of you playing in the park with your younger brother is now no longer the done thing (thank goodness) instead let’s protect those important memories, and share them with friends and family around the world by moving them into the digital space.
This may sound scary, expensive and time consuming but it doesn’t have to be…
Luckily, I’m such a fan of a paper free office I already own a Fujitsu ScanSnap which instantly scans in receipts, photos etc. This allowed me to take 1,000 physical photos and move them into the digital space and organise them within 2 hours.
Next, and visited my parents house to take advantage of their old video player (If you don’t have one scourer your local car boot sale and charity shops, you should be able to purchase one for less than £10)
Unlike the photos this will take up more of your time, but the results will be well worth it. I managed to do a video a day, and tried not to get too distracted from the footage and instead focused on doing household chores such as cleaning and ironing.
Take A Back Up
If you’re going to store important life long memories in the digital space then it’s important to have a back-up and even in some cases a back up of the back up.
Whether you decide to use a , the cloud or both find a solution that works for you and stick to it. There are many programmes available that can help you do this automatically as well as having space in the cloud to synchronies files between my mac and my iPhone.
Different solutions will depend based on your circumstances and the amount of digital space you require.
Finally, be sure to repeat these steps on a regular basis. Adapt them and refine them depending on your digital life circumstances. If you organise your digital life it’s going to save you time. Time is my most valuable asset, so saving that is never a bad thing. Be sure to let me know in the comments how you organise your digital life.