Maybe you feel confident tweaking your bio for the school open house, but your palms sweat when you think about going out to a networking event and building connections face to face. With a little advance planning and positive thinking, you can be just as poised at networking events as you are behind your computer screen or at your center. Try these suggestions for working a room.
Steps to Take Before Your Networking Events
- Do your research. Advance research is a great solution whenever you want to calm your nerves and make a strong impression. Browse online for details about the event, venue, and expected crowd.
- Clarify your purpose. Focus on your goals instead of the butterflies in your stomach. Maybe you want to invite two new acquaintances out for coffee. Perhaps you are looking for a potential mentor. Maybe you want to consult with experts about the impact of recent legislation on your industry.
- Bring a friend. While you eventually want to be able to muster the courage to fly solo, companionship can help while you’re still in training. Just be sure to split up frequently so you can mingle with others.
- Volunteer your services. Transform yourself into an instant insider. Call the hosts and offer to help with registration or escorting speakers. You’ll probably meet more participants, and your role provides an instant icebreaker as guests come to you for information.
- Prepare small talk. Are you stumped for something to say? Read up on breaking industry news. Write down questions you want to discuss with other guests.
- Dress the part. Appearances count too. Convey that you have a lot in common by going along with the dress code for jeans and t-shirts, or blouses and khakis. You’ll feel more at ease and start to build rapport.
- Bring mints. Smell as good as you look. Fresh breath makes it easier to wow others with what you have to say.
- Bring your business cards. Having your business cards gives you a simple way to indicate that you want to get to know the person you are talking with better. It also is a great way to get their contact information. If you don’t have any, head over to vistaprint and order a small box for less than $10. It is worth it.
Steps to Take at Your Networking Events
- Radiate enthusiasm. Smile wide and think positive. Remember how beneficial the event can be for your career and how much you appreciate those around you.
- Straighten up. Good posture boosts your mood and shows others that you’re strong and capable. Tuck your stomach in and roll your shoulders back and down.
- Make eye contact. Starting conversations with strangers can be challenging. Establishing eye contact is a natural way to gain someone’s attention and introduce yourself. From there, you can start chatting about the food or the program.
- Express interest. Guests at a networking event are likely to be eager to talk about themselves and their business. Ask open-ended questions that keep the conversation going. Share your own relevant experiences. Give them a card.
- Be authentic. There’s plenty of advice available about networking. Sift through the information for tips that match your strengths and personality.
- Slow down. Pace yourself. Be courteous and friendly to each guest, but reserve your business cards for those colleagues you’re interested in following up with. Enjoy your initial conversations without rushing to connect on social media or promote your own products and services. Healthy relationships are based on trust that grows over time.
- Move along. Leave your contacts wanting more. It’s usually more productive to strike up brief conversations and make plans to talk again later if you think you’ve discovered a potential client or partner. That way you can dial down the pressure and explore more options.
Show up at annual conventions and monthly luncheons ready to make new contacts and stay in touch with old friends. Create business and social opportunities by reaching out to others. Allow your real self to shine through and feel your newfound confidence. You can do this!
If you are still not sure you can do it, take a moment to read my thoughts on waiting to try something new. Why Waiting for the Right Moment is Often a Mistake Trying something new can be scary, but not is stagnation.
Take a moment to let us know about a networking event you have gone to and how it went.
It’s enjoyable when your life is progressing. Like losing weight or increasing your nest egg, getting a promotion can be gratifying. The key is to prove that you deserve a promotion and are the right person for the job. With a little planning, you can get a promotion and advance your career.
Even if you’ve been stuck in the same job for years, it’s never too late to make new career strides. You can quickly establish yourself as a valuable employee that deserves greater responsibilities. Do you want to be a lead teacher, curriculum specialist, trainer, or director? You can!
Get a promotion and revitalize your career:
- Work at a school where promotions are possible. For example, if you work for a small center with a long-term teachers, there will be few opportunities for promotion. So, your first step might be to find a new center! Ideally, it would be a large company with multiple locations. If your center has room to grow, stretch your wings there.
- Start each day with a plan. Most employees arrive at work, grab a cup of coffee, socialize for a while, and then try to figure out what to do. Have a plan before you go to bed. With a plan, when you get up, you can start your day effectively and get a head start on the competition.
- Go above and beyond. Does everyone else arrive at 8:00am and leave by 5:00pm? Then you arrive at 7:30 and leave at 5:30. It doesn’t take long for people to identify you as the person that comes in early and leaves late. Find a way to stand out as a superior employee. It isn’t hard since most others are just doing enough to avoid getting fired.
- Always be early. Be early to work and early with your work. If something is due by Friday at 5:00, have it completed on Thursday. Be 100% reliable. And be on time for meetings. Avoid letting anyone down. Be impeccable with your word.
- Avoid making enemies. You never know whom your archenemy knows. You both might be low on the totem pole but your nemesis might be best friends with the boss’s daughter. Be one of those people that everyone likes and admires. It’s not hard to be pleasant when a promotion is at stake.
- Be indispensable. There are certain people that your school can’t do without. You probably know a few of them. What can you do to be so valuable that the owner or board will try to keep you happy? One key to getting a better job is being important enough that the company won’t want to disappoint you.
- Identify the important people. Where is your promotion likely to be? Whom would you work for? Start making friends and prove your worth. Specifically ask about the position and what qualities they need in an employee. Begin developing and advertising the skills necessary to be successful.
- Speak to your boss and any other managers. Let them know that you’d like to take on a new role in the near future. You’ll be viewed favorably for showing initiative and you’ll be on their radar. Being proactive shows that you’re willing to take on greater responsibilities.
- Get the training you need. If you want to be a Director, or Assistant Director, Get your Director Credential. Texas Director can help you get your credential in less than a month. If you want to be a trainer, take a train the trainer class.
Keep your ear to the ground to know of upcoming openings. You can even suggest a new position be created that’s perfect for your backgrounds, skills, and interests. Perhaps you can step into the new role for 2 hours a day, and stay teaching the rest of the time. Be a creative problem solver!
Most employees aren’t willing to earn a promotion. You have much less competition than you think. However, if your best efforts fail, it might be time to look to another company. The perfect promotion for you already exists somewhere. The disadvantage of staying with the same company is fewer opportunities. Weigh your options and enjoy!
Life is fast moving and complicated. There’s a lot you can do to simplify your life and still get more accomplished. There’s a seemingly endless supply of “hacks” online. There are hacks for work, your love life, exercise, and everything else under the sun. Getting through all of the hacks requires a hack of its own.
Keep things simple and focus on a few powerful strategies:
- Make a short list. The fewer things you try to accomplish, the more you’ll get done. Make a list of the 2-3 most important things you want to get done at work. Before you drive home, make a list of the 2-3 most important things you want to get done at home. Make a new list for the weekend.
- The act of making the list will force you to prioritize so you can accomplish the most important tasks.
- Focus on one task at a time. Switching back and forth between two or more tasks is inefficient. Learn to focus on one task until it’s complete before moving on to something else. Try this for a week and notice the difference it makes.
- Simplify your diet. The next time you’re at the grocery store, stick to the edges of the store. What do you find there? Lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and dairy. Throw in some nuts and healthy whole grains and you have a healthy diet.
- You’ll save time and money at the store and do wonders for your health.
- Try to limit your emails to five sentences. If an email is five sentences, no one will complain that your email is too short or too long. You can maintain relationships without spending a lot of time typing a senseless email. Pick up the phone as the situation calls for it.
- Go to bed early. Any extra time you’re awake at night probably isn’t productive. It’s probably spent watching TV while nodding off in your favorite chair. Get to bed early and get up early. You’ll get more done.
- Sort your mail as soon as you get home. Each day, grab the mail and stand over the garbage can. Throw out the junk and sort the rest. Put it all away in the appropriate place.
- Avoid the frustration of lost bills and clutter. Save your time and energy for more important tasks than going through a huge stack of junk mail every time you need to find a bill or other important paper.
- Work offline. It seems that more and more work must be completed on the computer, but there are pitfalls to working online – the internet. The internet is both the best and worst thing ever invented. It provides tremendous resources, but it’s also the perfect way to waste a lot of time.
- Would you rather complete the billing report for your boss or watch a video of kittens riding on the back of a goat? See how easy it is to get distracted?
- If you’re at home, pull the Ethernet cable or turn off the Wi-Fi. You can find a similar solution at work.
- One famous writer once stated that the only way he could get any work done was to glue the Ethernet cable into the port and then cut off the cable. He couldn’t control himself if he had access to the internet.
Try out these seven hacks and see how they impact your life. What other hacks could you add? Consider where you seem to waste the most time. This is a prime area for developing a hack of your own. Keep your life simple and it will be easier to get through the day with a feeling of accomplishment.