Get Prepared to Network: Meet, Greet, Repeat

1 - Prepare to listen: It starts with being fully present. Tune everything and everyone else OUT — pay attention only to the person right in front of you. Periodically ask questions — don’t be a bobble head just nodding. Good conversation is two-way. 2 - Handshake: In our country, the acceptable greeting starts with a firm handshake. Women – show your confidence and presence by initiating the handshake. Here’s how: Move toward a person, arm outstretched, smile on your face and say “I’m happy to meet you. I’m Valerie Sokolosky. And you?” You’re off and running. 3 - Conversation: After the initial name exchange, move to a question. Here’s one suggestion — ask a question about their name. “Eric…there are lots of ways you can spell it…how do you spell yours? “Oh, that’s an unusual name. Were you named for someone? “What else do they call you?” “Kathryn…do you prefer Kathryn or Kathy?” Names give you an easy way to get into a conversation! 4 - Remembering … [Read more...]

Is Your Network Napping?

“Networking is not about collecting contacts. It’s about planting relationships.” ~ Simply put – relationships matter. When you have ‘related’ to a client by giving your best, you’ll be remembered. Just minutes ago, I was indeed remembered. The caller said, “Valerie, you’ve been referred by xxxx.” It turns out xxxx is a client from 10 years ago. That referral came from my sincere desire to stay in touch (digitally on this one) with those people I call “brand ambassadors” — those clients who know me and value our relationship. What matters is that you care enough to connect. Whether by phone, email or through social media, the point is to reach out — or there is no connection. Now the HOW! 3 Tips for Engaging Your Network 1 – KNOW WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO THEM Maybe it's a hobby. Maybe it's a passion, sport, or talent. When you know what someone likes or enjoys – it’s easier to send messages. Example: If a client is an avid reader, send interesting articles. Keep a … [Read more...]

YOU are the Brand

It’s curious to me why some service professionals don’t realize that their behavior can make or break the reputation of their company’s brand. Driving on vacation recently, we had two interesting customer service experiences - one great and one not so great! Let’s start with greatness! Our habitual morning “must do” on the road is to hit our favorite coffee spot – Starbucks. There it was – with its welcoming green logo. We all went in for a fast breakfast, greeted by the manager who was all smiles - just like in this picture. As she handed us our breakfast, her smile waned for a moment - only long enough to apologize for dropping one sandwich. Immediately she said, “I’ve given you two for the price of one and I'm sorry for making you wait.” Now that’s a nice gesture by itself! Then she really topped it off with a surprise gift of her apron. I had simply thanked her for great customer service and told her that in my Personal Branding workshops I use Starbucks as an … [Read more...]

Embrace the Five “Bs” of Writing LinkedIn Headlines

Would you pick up a book if its cover didn’t appeal to you? Of course not. The cover —by the pictures, the title or both — attracts you to the book, beckoning you to open it and explore more. With a LinkedIn profile, your “book cover” is your LinkedIn headline, the line at the top immediately below your name.  If the headline doesn’t attract a hiring manager or recruiter, s/he likely won’t read any more. Since the LinkedIn headline automatically defaults to your current position and organization unless you change it, (see the LinkedIn headline for Randi Grohe Lathrop in the picture below) ,professionals simply leave it alone. But you’re not most professionals, right? Read on for the five “B”s of creating a compelling LinkedIn headline. 1. Be Honest. You want to emphasize your strengths, while avoiding exaggeration.   Try to authentically describe the value you bring to a prospective employer. The word “authenticity” is key. It won’t pay to lie on your LinkedIn … [Read more...]

Brand Yourself with Influence-Not Authority

Several years ago, a Fortune 100 company asked us to develop a program on how to be more effective at influencing skills. It is a competency we should acquire at any stage of life, since we’re often put in situations where we need to get something done, but we have no authority over those people who can help us meet the goal. The definition of influencing is “getting others to do something, say something, or give you something while maintaining the relationship. It’s accomplishing your end result while building and enhancing the relationship.” Both are important. Here are my points of view on how you can become a more effective influencer. 1. Maintain/build positive relationships– Think about those who you consider to be good influencers. They don’t rely on their position or title. They know how to build relationships by earning respect, not just respect because of a title. Respect is earned by focusing on improving and supporting the relationship while accomplishing your goals. … [Read more...]