Tag Archives: networking relationships

Sharing, Learning and Growing

23 May

Close your eyes and imagine that it is three years from today. You are walking in the door of your business. What do you see and hear? What are people doing? What does your business look like?

The women sitting in front of me are business owners  from various countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is an eclectic group with a variety of business ventures ranging from textiles and chocolates to biotech benefiting the salmon industry.

Participants from Latin America - Listening to Your Business - FastTrac

They are here as part of the Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas (“WEAmericas”), an initiative that leverages public-private partnerships to increase women’s economic participation and addresses key barriers women face when starting and growing small and medium enterprises.

My role is to facilitate  Kauffman FastTrac’s Listening to Your Business  – a three-year visioning workshop. A hush settles over the lively group as they open their eyes and start writing what they envision in the near future. Time flies as we talk about the importance of establishing an intentional internal planning process through setting special goals and establishing success strategies. They begin to share resources to reach their business goals.

Sharing Challenges

During the workshop, each woman introduced herself and shared her biggest challenges. They roughly fell into the following four buckets: 1) Growth; 2) Marketing; 3 )Finances and 4) Transitions. The visioning exercise helped them to focus more clearly on the steps to move past the barriers to see the desired success. Michele Markey, Vice President of FastTrac says, “This type of activity is often hard for entrepreneurs because they end up spending most of their time with their heads down to get the business started and keep it going.”

Learning

The biggest “AHA” moment was the need to take the time to find strategic solutions to the different challenges presenting themselves in each stage of the growth of their business.  As they created a chart of their goals, management style, planning characteristics and red flags they were able to pinpoint specific ways to move ahead. For some, it was realizing that they needed to delegate more in order to step back from the day-to-day operations to gain the perspective in a larger context.

Growing

My life was enriched by this opportunity to meet these talented women and to help them advance their entrepreneurial aspirations. Their action plans and future strategic focus will have a positive impact on their own business endeavors and on the economy of their nations. Many spoke of returning to encourage other women to become entrepreneurs. By sharing what they learned, they will network more effectively and grow as they give to back to others.

What challenges do you face as an entrepreneur? What are you learning? In what areas do you need to grow?

Karen Sebastian is a serial entrepreneur who wants to help you succeed in your business. Subscribe to this blog for more inspiration on how to become a HOPEpreneur. Please email her at hopepreneurs@gmail.com if you would like to book her as a speaker or want one-on-one coaching.

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Five Secrets Used by Master Networkers

28 Dec

We all know that networking is a key to get us the job that we want or to promote our business. Are your networking efforts paying off? Here are some secrets gleaned from master networkers:

Networking connects you with many different types of people1. Always carry your business cards

Be on the lookout for interesting connections. They may come from unexpected places and venues. Be ready to succinctly communicate your passion and leave your card. For this reason, you must also remember that YOU are your brand.

2. Show interest in others

The purpose of networking is to promote your business yet, at the same time,  be careful to not come across as someone who is always self-promoting. You want to be memorable and the best way to do that is to be willing to help others meet their goals.  Once you have finished speaking with the new contact, write down a detail or two about them before you forget.

3. Listen carefully

This networking secret is possibly the most important.  It’s far too easy get distracted in group settings. Once you connect with the new contact, use your entire communication process of body language, tone of voice and words to convey your interest in what they have to say.

4. Follow up immediately

What are you going to do after you gather your business cards? Many people simply collect them and hope for the best. You need to select two or three and follow-up. Networking is about establishing mutually beneficial relationships. Send them an email or give them a call to thank them for their time.

5. Schedule the meetings

How many times have you said, “Let’s get together soon.” Instead, suggest the best time for you and even suggest a place. The sooner you schedule the next meeting, the more likely it is that you have a networking connection that is going to work.

Networking is a skill that takes practice and time. Go after it diligently and you will begin to reap the results in increased opportunities and added valuable connections.

Karen Sebastian is a serial entrepreneur who wants to help you succeed in your business. Subscribe to this blog for more inspiration on how to become a HOPEpreneur.

Copyright © 2011 Picture Hope International, Inc.

Should I join a networking group?

14 Dec

Karen Sebastian and Janet Uszynski at Orchid Christmas luncheonA great way to quickly increase your number of qualified contacts for your business is to join a networking group. There are many groups out there and it’s important to find one that will work for you. A great way to do that is to find out about how it got started. Our guest blogger today is Janet Uszynski who is the founder and director of Orchid a Faith – based networking group for women in North Texas. I met her a few months back and appreciate her follow-through and commitment to help women succeed.

HOPEpreneurs: When did you discover that you were a good networker?

Janet:

Looking back on my childhood I was what some would call a “social butterfly.” One day my Mom summoned me and sternly said, “Janet, I think you’re going to have to go work for the phone company in order to pay for this high phone bill. All you ever do is talk and talk and talk to your friends.”

She was right. I love sharing ideas and hearing that others are thinking. I want to be involved with others and help when I can. As I got older one of my favorite things to do was have dinner parties and BBQ’s to introduce and connect all my friends. I was the one who would invite that person others might exclude and I would make sure they felt welcome and accepted.

HOPEpreneurs: Why did you start Orchid?

Janet: 

I started Orchid because I wanted to offer a vehicle for Christian women to connect to learn from each other, share ideas, request prayer support and use their God-given gifts to help others.

HOPEpreneurs: Why would a woman want to join Orchid?

There is a powerful energy when women connect with other like-minded, goal-oriented women who share the desire to excel at what they are doing. Orchid is non-competitive and puts no limits on categories or professions like most other networking groups. We offer many opportunities for women to promote their Product, Passion or Self in a safe networking environment. We are seeing incredible connections in this diverse group. Ministries and businesses are helping each other along with many other great opportunities.

HOPEpreneurs: What do you want to see happen?

Janet: 

I want to help other women understand that to give is more powerful then to receive.  An amazing circle of giving starts when we give freely to others with no strings attached. God wants everyone to succeed, make money and achieve their dreams. My goal is to set an atmosphere where this can happen.

You may contact Janet at: info@itsorchid.com. Visit Orchid’s website at: http://www.itsorchid.com.

Takeaways from this interview:

  1. Find a networking group where you feel comfortable. Visit several before you commit to becoming a member. Orchid is a great example of a faith-based group that strives to make others feel comfortable and gives opportunities to flourish.
  2. Learn from great networkers. One of the reasons I asked Janet for this interview is that she is truly a gifted networker. At the root of her success is her sincere desire to help others. She is happiest promoting and connecting others. The next time you go to a networking event, reach out to help someone else. It will come back to you multiplied many times over.
  3. Be interested in others. When you go to a networking event, make sure you meet at least one new person. Follow up with them and establish a strong connection. Janet will share more of her tips for networking success in the next blog.

Karen Sebastian is a serial entrepreneur who wants to help you succeed in your business. Subscribe to this blog for more inspiration on how to become a HOPEpreneur.

How can I overcome my fear and just go for success?

12 Dec

I recently asked a question on the HOPEpreneurs Facebook page about the biggest challenges women faced when starting a business. You get to add more options and someone entered fear. This started me thinking about what fears have prevented me from being successful in my business. Often these internal struggles become my biggest barrier to success. Now that I have HOPE – confidence in taking the next step – my fears are not paralyzing me.

Failure

A lot of times I would project what I wanted to see happen. I’m not talking here about a vision for the future because that is important to have. What I mean is the step-by-step play book where others would respond exactly like I anticipated and I would quickly reach my goals. I would get discouraged and consider myself a failure.

HOPE Antidote

I now tell myself that no matter what happens, I have not failed if I change as a result of the experience. When I take a step back and look at the chain of events, I can have a different perspective of what did not work and try different approaches. What did you change this week?

What others will think

I used to discuss my entrepreneurial ideas with anyone who would listen. I am an idea person and love brainstorming. Unfortunately, I did not choose my listeners wisely. As I would jump from one idea to the next their eyes would glaze over. When I asked, “What do you think?” I would get anywhere from a lukewarm, “Sounds interesting,” to a “I’m not following you.” I would feel deflated and wanted to give up on the seed of my idea even before it had a chance.

HOPE Antidote

Share selectively. Start the conversation with: “I’m in brainstorming mode about an idea for a business. Would you please be a sounding board?” When they give their comments consider that you asked for it. Ask clarifying questions and improve on your idea.

Success

As strange as it may sound, I have found that I have hesitated to fully commit to a new venture because of what it would take to make it successful. What can make this worse is when we receive negative feedback from significant people in our lives who have good intentions because they don’t want to see us get hurt by ‘getting our hopes up.’  Many women, in particular, fear being lonely if they are successful. Other times we see people who act like jerks because they let their success go to their heads. We promise ourselves that we will never be like that.

HOPE Antidote

Make steady progress toward your goal through small wins that get you going in the right direction. Take a look at what will happen as you succeed in your business venture. Keep in mind that success will not change you if you stay grounded and surround yourself with those who will speak truth into your life. In fact, you can do a lot of good with your success. Take others with you on your journey.

Let me know how it goes this week as you face your fear and make forward movement to overcome the barriers and obstacles that stand in your way. I would love to hear from you in the comment section of this blog. Let’s make forward progress this week as HOPEpreneurs!

Karen Sebastian is a serial entrepreneur who wants to help you succeed in your business. Subscribe to this blog for more inspiration on how to become a HOPEpreneur.

Why should I spend time networking?

1 Dec

I had the privilege of meeting a fantastic group of women today who are part of the Orchid women-to-women networking group. This is a very warm faith-based networking group that meets several times of month. By joining this networking group I gain the following benefits (ROI) from networking:

  1. Relationships. One of the things that this networking group does well is give time for those attending to get to know the people at our tables. One of the fallacies about networking is that it is enough to pass out  your business cards. The key is to connect and be memorable. I feel confident that the ones that I connected with today will become friends as I follow-up with them.
  2. Opportunities to learn. Another favorable component was a speaker who provided timely information on SEO and Social Media. I gained helpful information that will help me immediately. It makes me want to go back.
  3. Informal network. It takes time and effort to build a strong network that will benefit you whether you are looking for a job or building a business.  It’s also easy to get so busy that we neglect this process. Be willing to give and share your expertise with others. This will build your credibility and move you toward continued success.

Solid networking takes time but the Return on Investment is well worth the effort. Make joining a networking group one of the key steps in your strategy to build your business. There are many different groups out there. If you live in the Dallas area, I recommend you check out Orchid.

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