Friday, July 10, 2009

Networking

Friday, July 10, 2009
Life is always chaotic, but especially so now. The day job aside, I’m up against a crushing deadline for my next book. On top of that, next week I’ll be away attending the RWA (Romance Writers of America) National Conference in Washington DC. I don’t actually leave until Wednesday, but I have a lot of preparing to do… plus there’s the deadline thing.

Before I move on, I have to apologize to those of you who won a book from me. I have not forgotten. I swear. The days have blurred, dealing with the above as well as some personal things. Still, no excure. I will get those out pronto. Thank you for your patience. Now. Moving on...

Since I’ll be slammed next week, I asked my (our) sister, B.J. (a regular visitor here at SIS) if she would sub for me. I’m thrilled to announce she agreed. So next week, all week, B.J. will be blogging with Bren and Barb in my place. Please do check back and make her feel welcome. She’s a fantastic friend and sister, and a lot of fun.

As for my feature today… I’m going to cheat a little and dip into my personal blog archives. Follows a post that I wrote two years ago almost to the day. It highlights a subject near to my heart: NETWORKING. This is only one of five articles I wrote on the subject. It’s timely, given I’m heading to a business conference. I hope you find it of interest! NETWORKING isn’t just for writers, but for anyone who’s trying to build a career in any field.

NETWORKING IN ACTION
(Originally written July 7, 2007)

Day Four of my series of posts on Networking. I hope some of you’re finding some of these tips useful. For more extensive views on the subject, I highly recommend “Power Networking – 55 Secrets for Personal & Professional Success”, by Donna Fisher and Sandy Vilas.

Today I’ll highlight a few active networking tips. I’ll use Fisher and Vilas’s bullet points and elaborate from my own perspective.

Networking in Action:

* Dress to Impress
I attended my first Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in 1994. I attended alone and I didn’t know a soul. I knew that the convention was for booklovers, therefore a lot of readers would be there and probably dressed more casually. But I was there for the writing workshops. My goal: to someday be published. I was there for business so I dressed accordingly. The very first night, at the welcome reception, a published author and her husband came over to me (I was drinking a soda and doing an incredible impression of a wallflower) and engaged me in conversation. I was thrilled! At one point, the husband glanced at my nametag and saw that I was an ‘aspiring writer’. He said, “Oh. We came over to speak to you because you looked like somebody.”

Meaning somebody they should get to know… like an editor or an agent. Not something I would have said, folks, however they were very nice and instead of dwelling on that odd comment, I reflected on the fact that they’d cited my attire. I looked like an industry professional. Lesson learned? If you want to be perceived as a professional, be sure to portray professionalism through your clothes, speech, and mannerisms. Please note that this doesn’t mean I wear conventional suits. I’m not a conventional kind of gal. I wear funky suits and dresses with stylish but comfortable shoes. Professional yet fitting my personal style. Whether you're conventional or quirky, just strive to make a statement that shouts, "I'm somebody you want to know!"

* Make a Strong First Impression
Introduce yourself in a concise way. Who you are. What you do. A strong handshake shows confidence.Long ago my husband taught me the importance of a firm handshake. Just because you’re a woman that doesn’t mean you should shake like a lightweight. He calls it the limp-fish handshake.In my previous life, I was a longtime professional performer. One day, following an audition at an unnamed casino, my agent introduced me to the VP of Marketing. A young woman. I expected a firm handshake. A VP for gosh sake. I got the limp-fish. My first thought was that she lacked confidence. She was also uncomfortable making eye contact. Neither of these things made for a strong first impression.

*Memorize Names and Faces
Listen when they say their name, glance at their nametag, use their name in conversation. People are flattered if you remember them the next time you see them. In turn, if it seems someone does not recognize you, spare them any awkwardness by reintroducing yourself. I confess this is a huge problem for me. I have a horrible memory. It can be mortifying. Especially if I’ve had a conversation with this person at a previous conference. I should know their name. I should remember specifically what we spoke of. But often it’s a blur. Not because they’re not memorable, but because something doesn’t fire right with my memory skills. It’s forever something I’m trying to improve upon.

*Be Gracious and Courteous
Hold a door or an elevator for someone. Ask how you can assist the host/hostess. RSVP promptly to invitations. Send a thank you note after you attend a meeting or special event. In other words, be considerate.

*Give out Business Cards Appropriately
Passing out your business cards randomly is not an effective use of your cards. An exchange of cards should happen following a discussion or to provide an individual with requested contact info. Later you can also jot notes on the back of the card to reminding you who this person is or what he said. Especially helpful for someone like me, someone with a faulty memory.

*Acknowledge Contacts – Follow Up
If someone provides you with their contact information, try to follow up with a card or email. This helps to establish a relationship. If someone judges your work in a contest, follow up with a note. If an agent or editor rejects your work, follow up with a thank you note. Even if they do not acknowledge your ‘thank you’ you just put your name in their mind again and in a positive way.

Quote for the Day:
“The power of networking comes from people and the development of strong solid relationships.” -- Donna Fisher and Sandy Vilas, authors of Power Networking

Thoughts, feeling, added tips? Do share!

16 comments:

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Hi Beth,

I'm off to Indiana and won't be able to check in as often as I like, but I wanted to comment on your post.

Great tips, especially the "dress to impress". I have attended many a function where I am downright appalled at people's attire. It looks as if they haven't an ounce of pride.

Limp fish handshake! That's what I call it too and I hate that. It's actually kind of a gross feeling.

Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips,
SIS Barb

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Apologies to anyone trying to post and having problems. Seems to be a glitch with blogger today. Grrr.

SIS Beth

Tori Lennox said...

Oh, man, I hate that limp fish handshake, too! And I just hope nobody thinks mine is. *g*

Most those tips basically (to me, at any rate) come down to just good manners.

Some day I hope to get to RWA. They need to come to Memphis. :)

Beth Ciotta said...

The glitch seemed to be with word verification, so I shut that off for now. Let's see if that helps. Comment away everyone! I hope. :)

SIS Beth

B.J. said...

Hi Beth,

Thanks for the great tips and the wonderful indroduction. I have trouble remembering names too. I hate it when that happens.

flchen1 said...

Hi, Barb, Bren, B.J., and Beth! Sorry I haven't been by much this week--we've been recovering from something the kids caught last weekend. (Uh, yay...) Good reminders on the networking, Beth--I think I remember your original post from your blog :) Happy Friday!

Beth Ciotta said...

Hope you're having a nice time in Indiana, Barb. How's that Harvey Hinklemeyer pizza? ;)

SIS Beth

Beth Ciotta said...

Tori, absolutely. A huge part of GOOD and effective networking involves good manners and respect. Unfortunately, you'd be surprised by how many people forget that.

Oh! And btw, RWA is in Nashville next year. Close enough?

SIS Beth

Beth Ciotta said...

Hey B.J.! So looking forward to your week at SIS. I won't be able to check in as much as I'd like, but I WILL check in. :)

As for the name thing... no matter how hard I try, I never seem to get better at it. Although sometimes saying the name over and over in my head and repeating it in the midst of discussion does help. Sort of. Sometimes.

SIS Beth

Sydney said...

Very nice blog today beth. Its true about the limp fish handshake that will always give everyone a bad first impression.

your neice.
(:Sydney:)

Beth Ciotta said...

Oh, no, Fedora! Hope everyone is feeling better now. Have an awesome, healthy weekend!

SIS Beth

Beth Ciotta said...

Sydney!!! Hugs and smooches, beautiful one! Your firm handshake, good manners, and sense of humor will serve you well!

Hugs,
Aunt Beth

Sydney said...

Hugs and kisses to you to i miss you!! Thank you! Good luck with your work.

xoxoxo,
(:Neice Sydney:)

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Hi everyone and Big Waves to Syd!

Glad Beth got the glitch fixed so everyone could join in!

Great tips Beth and yes these things should be common sense...apparently for some--the're not.

SIS Barb

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Hello everyone!

Thanks, Beth, for those great tips. I, too, hate the limp-fish. I am very fortunate in that I think I'm pretty good with names. I don't know why it is, but I could meet someone and not see them for a couple years and then when I see them again, I remember their name. I think I usually do word association. If, for example, I meet someone named Beth, then I think of my sister and the next time I see them, my sister pops into my head and I remember. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

SIS Bren

Olga said...

Beth, thanks for great tips. I especially liked "dress to impress." My tip? Try to remember people's birthdays. Everybody likes receiving birthday cards or even a simple e-mail with b/d wishes.

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