Social media allows you to ‘meet’ many interesting people. That’s how I got acquainted with Debbie Lynn Butler, founder of AVA Professional Support Services. She tweets as @DebbieLynnAVA and offers a wealth of knowledge, as well as inspiration for getting the most out of your day.
Debbie is a graduate of the College of William and Mary with a degree in education. As an experienced virtual assistant, she enables authors, coaches, educators, and entrepreneurs to do what they love best by providing online presence management, training, and business support.
In this article, which she so graciously allowed me to reprint in the In Between issue of Strategies, Debbie helps with the universal problem of networking and offers tips for using networking tools you may already own.
Networking is about making connections and building relationships. The best networking tool for this purpose is a genuine interest in other people. If you feel this isn’t enough, here are some bonus tools you may already own.
A smile: Everyone owns one of these. A smile is easy to use, highly portable, and universally recognized as a sign of friendship. Even better, the friendliness factor in your voice increases when you smile so you can use this tool at live events, over the phone, during virtual conferences and teleseminars, and when podcasting or producing Webinars.
Pen and paper: Use these to jot down ways you can help others. Remind yourself in writing to follow up with whatever you promise. Make notes about people and their interests, ideas, and ideal clients so you can make connections now and in the future.
Thank you notes: A cousin of pen and paper, these allow you to thank others for helping you, for giving recommendations or referrals, and for making purchases. Expressing thanks reflects your good character, making you someone others will want to get to know better.
A way to keep track of contacts: A computer, a notebook and pencil, or a shoebox full of index cards can help you build relationships. Individuals who have developed a system for keeping track of all their friends and acquaintances and the related birthdays, anniversaries, spouses and children, special likes and dislikes, business concerns, and outside interests are prepared to connect on so many different levels.
A collection of random acts of kindness: Keep a list. Think of kindnesses you have received and especially appreciated. Borrow ideas from other people. Make a note when a person or a special need pops into your mind and then act on this thought. Be committed to doing random acts of kindness and you will discover it is also easier to network.
Something of perceived value: Everyone possesses something of perceived value they can share. Introductions, recommendations, and words of encouragement at the right moment are precious. The willingness to listen, to do what you promise, and to mentor are also priceless. Other valuables you can share in person and with your Web site visitors include a free consultation that provides solutions instead of a sales pitch, a problem-solving article, an organizational checklist, a sample of your product or a trial of your services, guidance concerning technology or writing, and complimentary lessons. Use your valuables to help others, to initiate contact, or to remind others that you are thinking of them and they are important to you.
Use these tools— a smile, pen and paper, thank you notes, a contact tracker, a collection of random acts of kindness, and freely shared valuables–to facilitate making connections and building relationships. Don’t be surprised if your interest in others helps you make new friends, too.
Debbie Lynn Butler wants you to do what you love best. Let a virtual assistant from AVA Professional Support Services do the rest. Get free tips and tools for making the most of your time and resources at http://avapss.net/vatip.aspx Receive our latest business-boosting ideas when you sign up for our newsletter. Her blog is Yes, the Butler did it! and you can follow her on Twitter as @DebbieLynnAVA. She also has some excellent articles at www.ezinearticles.com .