King of Hearts: If you are passionate about your work it drives you to constantly want to do better. I was at an IT conference recently and a speaker talked inspiring about her passion and why she worked for a charity. She broke the word down to represent Patience, Action, Selflessness, Status Quo or rather not accepting it, Inspiration, Oration and Network. I could not have agreed more. I would add that patience and action are not mutually opposed. You have to be able to channel both so that you can find the logical, rational arguments, deliver them with a cool head and use your commitment to influence others. Above all you must be prepared to be different.
King of Spades: represents good old fashioned hard work. Another phrase that is often used in business is “fail to plan, plan to fail”. Planning at the strategic and operational levels is vital. Of course you can’t plan for every eventuality but you can minimise risk and maximise by planning. You can also put your self in the position of being able to take advantage of the unexpected opportunities when they arise.
- You can network anywhere. You never know when you might find someone who wants to help you or whom you'll want to help. The same is true in cyberspace. Opportunities abound. You can make meaningful contacts almost anywhere provided you truly believe in helping others. So, don't limit yourself to networking only in professional settings.
- Go where you feel comfortable. Sure, there are professional networking groups. But don't go to places because you feel that that is the place to go networking. Instead of being strategic to the exclusion of your feelings, pay attention to them. Go to meetings, lunches or social events precisely because you enjoy them. You'll be more natural in those environments and will be able to make truly useful connections.
- Don't over market. We've all met the bore who won't stop talking about his or her accomplishments. Well, that same bore exists in the business world and in my experiance it is normally hot air. When you're talking with someone, make sure the conversation is truly two-way.
- Elevator speeches sound exactly what they are; prepared pitches. Never sell a fake you. One of the tricks to networking is honesty. Of course, you should prepare some good talking points about your product (and you). But if you stick to a script you're bound to sound insincere.
- Try to follow up. This isn't as easy as it sounds. Most of us don't have all the time in the world to send personal, hand-written notes to everyone we've met and with whom we felt a connection. At the very least, send hand-written notes to a few people with whom you really clicked. I firmly believe that's more effective than any kind of mass thank-you.
- Keep in touch. Newsletters, emails, phone calls, dates, lunches, walks, and for some a round of golf . . there are many, many ways to keep yourself top-of-mind with other people. But the key here is to do something that you will both enjoy.
Remember: underlying all of these pointers is an assumption of activity. You can't network in a vacuum.