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Five Ways to Sharpen Your Networking Skills

The thought of going into a room cold, with just a name tag and a stack of business cards can be intimidating, anxiety inducing and downright painful. Networking doesn’t have to be that way.

With the advent of social media and the ability to stay connected online as an extension of the real world, networking can be done in ways that reduce exposure to sterile networking events, minimize stress and produce similar, if not better results as traditional networking.

Here are five ways that you can improve your networking skills without making it a painful experience.

5. Ask

Instead of leading off a conversation with what your needs/wants are, ask the other party what projects they’re working on. Eventually the conversation will turn to you and you’ll have an opportunity to talk about you and your needs.

4. Listen

Be a genuine listener when networking. People who listen are often thought of as great conversationalists. That’s because other people love to talk about themselves. Give them the space to do that.

3. Reach Out 

Don’t wait until you have a critical need (e.g., must make a sale, desperately need a new job). Check in periodically with former colleagues, friends and acquaintances and find out how they’re doing. The next time an opportunity or lead presents itself, they’ll be a lot more likely to think about you.

2. Offer to help

If there’s a way you can proactively help a fellow networking contact, do it. It can be something such as introducing a contact, suggesting strategy or sharing your experience. Don’t over commit, but make a gesture that shows you’re paying attention and that you care.

1. Don’t be so selfish

For many people, networking is driven by selfish needs. “I need something and I need it now,” is a total turn off and perpetuates the (accurate) impression that you only reach out when you’re in need. And while people may respond, it’s going about networking the wrong way.

Takeaways

Networking should be an exchange between people or people and their networks.

It shouldn’t be self-serving, because all you’re doing is potentially hurting yourself (and your future networking opportunities) while trying to help yourself today.

Get out there and try some of these strategies today.

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Top 3 Social Media Metrics Every Organization Should Capture in 2015

In 2014, most organizations that are active in social media seem to have gotten past vanity metrics. Which is good.

The number of Facebook likes on a business page or Twitter followers doesn’t shed much, if any insight into the effectiveness of a business’ social strategy.

So what are the key metrics that truly matter? While the answer can vary depending on your organization’s goals, the following three social media metrics will be next-to-mandatory in 2015: Impressions, engagement and influence.

1. Impressions: Create opportunities for your content to be seen

If you want to measure the reach of your content, impressions are the way to go. Impressions indicate the number of potential users that saw any content associated with your social networks.

A follower with a large audience, that retweets your content, can cause a substantial increase in impressions. Spikes in impressions can also be created by discussions around one’s brand/product on the web and social, press releases and news stories.

Analyzing what caused the spikes in impressions can help lead to opportunities to create future content that consistently yields more of those impressions and the potential to reach a wider audience.

2. Engagement: How do people behave with your content

People and brands frequently talking about @epicmc2

Producing great content and promoting it on social media should not be the end game. It’s more important to measure what your audience does with your content, which gives insight into how well your organization is communicating and interacting with your audience.

If a certain type of content gets little or no engagement or interaction, but requires a heavy lift to build, that’s an opportunity to reduce inefficiencies and stop building that type of content and focus on the content that does drive engagement but is easier to build/maintain.

Ultimately, the higher your engagement, the more valuable your audience becomes and the more value you provide to your audience. You should focus on creating customers and advocates by providing value to your user base and engaging your brand.

3. Influence: Aim to be an authority online

Measuring influence on social media

Comparing your influence versus your competitors can give social media managers a sense of how well their organization’s social media presences are performing.

Your organization and/or brand will likely want to be seen as influential on the topics on which your content is based around. Tools like Klout aim to measure an individual’s or company’s influence around topics.

Klout recently introduced suggested content to share, which simplifies the process of finding content to share on social. But it also raises the question of the value of the content being shared; that is, auto-sharing versus more authentic content curation strategies.

This is a good start … 

With these three core analytics in place, your organization will be well on the way to measuring the reach of your social content, what your audience is doing with that content and how influential you are on social media.

Want to learn more? We’d love to hear from you.

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