Not all networking happens at events. Some of the most effective networking you can do happens over coffee meetings. One-on-one catch-ups, whether they’re in real life or virtual, give you a chance to really connect without the distractions of being in a big crowd.
Here are five tips to make your one-on-one networking even more effective.
1. Have a point to the meeting
A networking meeting is more likely to be effective if it’s clear why it’s happening. Are you looking for a mentor or a new position? Has the person been recommended to you? Maybe you’re new in town and looking to connect with peers.
If it’s a get-to-know-you meeting, it’s okay to talk about common interests like books, movies, or sports.
2. Be strategic
Do your research and identify leaders that you really want to connect with. Be clear about where you want to be in a year, five years’ time, and seek out the people who can help you get there. Part of the point of networking is not just the people you meet, but the people they know who can help you grow your own network.
If you have changed jobs, sectors, or towns, connecting with the right people can help you hit the ground running.
3. Make it mutually beneficial
A networking meeting isn’t just about what you can get out of the other person – there has to be some benefit for them too. Think about what you can offer. What are your special skills or connections? Do you have acquaintances or experiences in common? Pay the other person the respect of doing some background research so you know where they’re from, and what their career path and big projects have been.
4.Respect their time
Remember this person has made time for you in their day. Be respectful of that and keep to the agreed time (don’t be late!). Don’t monopolize the conversation, and make sure the meeting doesn’t go over time unless the other person is keen to keep talking. Give them your business card, but don’t hand over your resume unless it’s requested.
5. Remember your manners
Be polite during your meeting and remember to follow up within twenty-four hours with a brief email thanking them for taking time out to talk.
If you’re committed to sending an article or book reference, remember to follow up. You want this first meeting to set the tone for a future meaningful relationship. If it feels appropriate you could connect on LinkedIn.
7 Common Obstacles to Efficiency
Now that you have a realistic, positive picture of yourself and have deﬁned personal goals that will maximize your potential, let’s look at some common obstacles that hold people back. It’s common for people to have a problem with one or more of the following behaviours when trying to organize a task or project. If you are aware that you are prone to any of these, you can combat it by confronting your attitude and taking proper action. 1.Procrastination
It can be tempting to put things off by waiting for something to happen, or letting someone else start the process, etc., but this is really a lack of taking responsibility. The reality is that the longer you put things off, the less likely they will be done successfully. It becomes more difficult to start and more difficult to complete the project, and the project looms larger and larger as time goes on. How many times have you ﬁnished something and said, “That wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.” If procrastination is one of your problems, ask yourself why you are procrastinating. Is it a pattern for you? If so, can you tell if it’s because of a lack of conﬁdence or if it’s just something you don’t want to tackle? Is there a common thread? How can you combat this behavior? Can someone else help you to initiate it? Can you develop skills to combat your anxiety? Is it a project that you really don’t want to do and don’t need to do, so the best course would be to drop it and go on to another project?
2. All or nothing thinking
Sometimes a project can seem so large it is daunting, which can make it seem even larger than it is. Of course, every project can be broken down once it is understood whether you are working by yourself or there are others involved. You need to analyse the task and set objectives and then make a plan of action and schedule. Then review the tasks as they are being accomplished, adjusting deadlines, and reallocating tasks when necessary.
3. Failing to set goals
Some of us have a natural ambivalence to setting goals, preferring to “live free,” But goal setting is critical to effective project implementation. Research shows that the most successful people always set goals and that 90% of people who set goals achieve them. The secret is to set goals in a way that is aligned with your personality.
4. Fear of failure
Many people have an inaccurate idea that everything we attempt should be perfect and that failure is embarrassing or shameful. Of course, that’s not true. Most of the time, we learn a lot more from our failures than from our successes. We know this but continue to blame ourselves. Some positive self-talk comes in handy here.
5. Comparing yourself to others
This behaviour has always existed but has become more prevalent with social media. It’s done in school, at work, and in social situations with a negative effect on our conﬁdence. It can discourage us and even paralyze us. Again, logically we know that we’re good at some things and not as good as others at other things. This is our chance to combat our counterproductive criticism with reminders of our skills and times when we performed successfully.
6. Ineffective time management
Failure to prioritize and manage time efficiently is a key problem for many assistants. It’s easy to give in to distractions and interruptions, which can result in disaster. Fortunately, planning is a learned skill that can turn things around if you commit to it.
7. Lack of necessary skills
Sometimes, it’s true — we do lack necessary skills. The incorrect response to that fact is a lack of conﬁdence. The correct response is to identify the skill that is lacking and decide if it’s one we want to work on improving or if we want to delegate or outsource where that skill is concerned. We have choices, and lacking a particular skill is not a dead end.
The skills that will enhance your efficiency and organizational abilities.
Motivation and willpower
Motivation is one of the most important ingredients in any project. Doesn’t it make more sense that your project will be more successful if you really want to do it? Willpower takes you a long way as a project goes on, especially when you’re trying to make changes in your behaviour. Many people want to accomplish a certain thing, but can’t get started or lose steam as the project goes on. Motivation and willpower can work together for the successful completion of a project.
Talking back to your negative voice
Negative self-talk is common; everyone does it to some extent. How successfully we talk back to it determines how successful we are in life. It’s a little sneaky, though, because it comes in different forms:
- Catastrophising: “If I don’t know all the answers they want, they won’t be impressed, and I won’t get the loan.”
- Magnifying: “This is so hard, I can’t do it.”
- Self-punishment: “That was the most stupid thing I did — I’m a fool.”
- Negative self-labeling: “I’m old, useless, and ugly.”
- Self-pressuring: “I should,” “I must,” “I have to.”
The ﬁrst step in countering this negativity is to be aware of it. Then you can challenge it by asking yourself if it’s true or justiﬁed. Finally, replace it with positive, supportive self-talk. This will give you a positive self-image and the conﬁdence to go on with your project. You’ve already made a list of your good qualities and accomplishments. Recall these and add to them when negative self-talk rears its nasty head in your mind.
We constantly work with others in the form of clients, colleagues, employees, and outsourcers. We can react in one of four ways: being passive, being aggressive, being manipulative, and being assertive. Being passive often means waiting for others to take action before we move on a project. This leaves the fate of your project in the hands of others. The passive person has such low self-esteem that he either automatically agrees with others or even runs away.
Being aggressive usually means that we move without considering others’ feelings or ideas, which can cause resentment. Aggressive behaviour is competitive; the goal is to win over others. Being manipulative means getting what we want through devious means and making others feel guilty. It is indirect aggression. Manipulative people fear exposure if they are direct and feel it’s safer to control and manipulate rather than confronting and being rejected. Being assertive involves having respect for the people we work with. It is rooted in high self-esteem and is most likely to give us the results we desire. We don’t wait for others to act for us, we don’t act without consideration for others when necessary, and we don’t try to indirectly control and manipulate others. Instead, assertive people negotiate to reach win-win results. It might surprise you to know that we all use all four patterns at times. These behaviours are established in us from an early age, and we may not be aware when we’re using them. But with some awareness and determination, we can change these behaviours if we want to. Identifying the best behaviour to use in various situations can contribute substantially to the success of projects.
The way to encourage assertive behaviour in yourself is to;
- Be very clear about what you want
- Feel positive about your project
- Take initiative
- Thinking through what you want and planning the steps might seem time-consuming, but the rewards are great.
- The way to successfully behave assertively with others involves
- Knowing clearly what you want and feel and be prepared to state that directly and simply.
- Maintaining your position steadily without giving in to manipulation or the negative behaviour of others.
- Acknowledge that you hear manipulators’ statements and continue with your point of view or request without becoming defensive or aggressive.
- Negotiating to achieve a win-win when there is conﬂict. Compromising to get the best realistic position is the right thing to do for the success of the project
Sometimes situations arise where agreement hasn’t been reached on legitimate differences of opinion through means other than confrontation. Continued disagreement is a saboteur of efficiency, so the issues need to be aired, but this tactic should be used with care.
To skilfully approach confrontation, you should
- Acknowledge the other person’s point of view as legitimate
- Clearly state both positions
- Make sure that the other person agrees that both of your positions have been stated correctly
- Accept that there may be negative feelings involved on both sides and accept responsibility for your own feelings
- Ask the other person for his preferred solution. At this point, you both may be able to start working toward a compromise.
Managing your anger and frustration
In most undertakings, there are times where things don’t work out as we expected or where obstacles arise. If we don’t deal with our anger and frustration, those negative feelings can slow us down or even derail the project. Luckily, effective strategies allow us to manage and channel our negative feelings.
- Be aware of your feelings. This is not always easy. We’ve learned to deny our feelings in many cases to be socially appropriate. But feelings denied can go underground and sabotage you. Know what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling the way you do.
- Then decide what to do with the feeling. It’s better not to express your anger until you have control of it. First, recognize it, then control it, then decide how to handle it.
- Convert your anger to the energy that powers your projects and inspires changes.
- Express your anger (energy) in a safe form such as exercise.
- After you are in control of it, voice your anger directly and fairly.
- Confront the situation that caused your anger in the most constructive way you can think of.
- After you’ve dealt with your anger, release it.
Goals are at the core of organization and efficiency since they keep us focused. A clear plan of action with effective implementation takes us from an idea to a completed project.
Planning assures that each part of a project receives proper attention.
- Understand your project thoroughly
- Know your resources — human and material
- Be ﬂexible in order to make changes
- Be proactive
- Schedule based on the needs of the project and your own abilities
Here are some time-saving tips to help you work more efficiently and effectively:
Take On Less
- Learn to say “no”
- Eliminate unnecessary meetings
- Don’t take on issues others should be doing
- Don’t get bogged down with details except when it’s necessary to do so. Work Efficiently
- Make and meet deadlines
- Tackle tasks as soon as you can
- Tackle tasks when you are most alert
- Make deadlines for others who tend to procrastinate
- Keep communications short and to the point
- Make phone calls when they will save time
- Work Effectively
- Make a plan and stick to it
- Be realistic
- Plan anything that will take some time — phone calls, written communication, meetings • Take breaks — they revive you
- Set priorities
- Finish what you start each day
When you delegate, you enlarge the scope of your business, increase your productivity. There’s a skill to delegating which, if you master, will maximize everyone’s efforts. The thing you must decide ﬁrst is which things to delegate and which things to keep for yourself. To answer that question, you must thoroughly understand the project and its demands.
To help you do this
- Set the objectives for the task
- Decide on the standards you require
- Determine the best people for the tasks and how much training they will need
- Establish realistic deadlines
- Set up review points to analyse the progress.
The best things to delegate:
- Routine matters
- Tasks requiring special knowledge you don’t have
Things not to delegate:
- Anything you need to do personally
- Emergency tasks
- Tasks that are exceptions to the normal method of doing things
- Tasks that might have serious repercussions
We all have stress, and if we’re not careful, it can kill us. More and more studies are showing that stress is a component of many major diseases. If we don’t handle our stress, it can also cause problems in our careers. Stress comes from four sources.
These are called stressors.
- Situational stressors come from our situation, our environment, and our culture. Work would be one of these, as well as unexpected situations, bad news, change, and noise.
- Major life events such as marriage, death, divorce, birth, ill health, or ﬁnancial problems.
- Other people can be stressors if they have unreal demands or expectations.
- Internal stressors like perfectionism, feelings of inadequacy, or unmet needs can be the biggest stressors of the four.
Learning to handle stress can make you healthier and happier, and it can certainly help you be more efficient. The ﬁrst step is identifying when you are feeling stressed.
Here are the questions to ask yourself at that time:
- What’s causing this stress?
- When does it happen?
- What exactly am I feeling now?
- Why am I reacting this way?
- What can I do to reduce my feelings of stress in this particular situation?
Here are some coping behaviours to help you handle stress:
- Accept your stressful feelings. They are valuable because they tell you that something is wrong that you need to pay attention to.
- Practice coping skills like saying “no,” taking initiative, developing a sense of personal power, and taking responsibility.
- Establish a supportive network of people who are interested in your well-being.
- Build a healthy lifestyle that combines good nutrition, exercise, relaxation, non-smoking, and moderate alcohol and caffeine.
- Realize that there are some things that you can’t control and let them go.
Maintaining high self-esteem;
Self-esteem is essential to resilience. It allows us to believe we can withstand all the problems of life. It deﬁnitely assists us to be efficient.
There are two types of self-esteem: internal and external. Internal comes from inside you: it’s what you think of yourself. External comes from what others think of you. It’s not very reliable since what others think of you can change. As your efficiency in all areas of your life grows, so will your self-esteem.
In addition, there are strategies to help you increase your internal self-esteem:
- Take initiative
- Develop motivation and willpower
- Take risks
- Give yourself “me” time
- Challenge your negative thoughts
- Be assertive
- Celebrate your improvements.
Criteria for prioritizing
You can prioritize based on various criteria:
1. Importance – the important items are the ones that will bring you the biggest payoff.
2. Urgency – these items will have the most serious results if you don’t get them done.
3. Quickest beneﬁt – these will bring results for you very soon.
4. Most difficult – this is the most difficult item on your list, and you want to do it ﬁrst to get it out of the way.
5. First domino effect – this item needs to be done ﬁrst because you can’t change other things until you change it.
6. Desire – these are the items you most want to change.
You deﬁned your own personal and unique goals in every area of your life. Now we need to talk about how you will achieve your goals on a day by day basis. Only 5% of people ever set goals of any kind. But more than 90% of people who do set goals achieve them. The combination of setting very speciﬁc goals and having a daily action plan that helps you achieve them is the core system for you to successfully organize your life. It’s the written attention to the details of your activity on a day-to-day basis that will allow you to succeed. We are always too busy to remember accurately everything we do. When it’s written down, we can track our activity and analyse it. So, this may take some time, especially at ﬁrst, but it is worth the trouble. Again, write down everything you want to change, organize better, or become more efficient. Be very speciﬁc. Break down the tasks into the smallest pieces possible. Your Daily Action Plan (see Action Plan form) should be in front of you at all times. It’s your primary tool for staying on track to accomplish your goals. Even though it takes a little time for you to complete it, it has beneﬁts for you right from the start. It will help you.
- Reduce stress because since you planned your day already you’ll be working at top efficiency.
- Improve productivity since your priorities are clear from the beginning of the day.
- Make clear progress toward your goals since your actions are mapped out for you.
- Help you achieve the balance between all parts of your life since you scheduled work time and you have unscheduled time for the other areas of your life.
Guidelines for Identifying Your Time Sappers.
Have you ever spent an entire day busy at your computer and felt like you achieved nothing at the end of it? Many times? You have a company! By now you should have kept a time log of exactly how you spent your time each day, preferably for a week, so you have lots of data to work with. The next step is to analyse the data to discover exactly which time sappers are interfering with your productivity. Time sappers are all the distractions and interruptions of any kind that take you away from working on your priority tasks and projects. Studies have shown that the things that kill your efficiency fall into four areas:
- Lack of planning
- Lack of organization
- Lack of self-management
- Lack of managing the work environment
Lack of planning
- No written goals
- Unrealistic time estimates
- Inefficient use of waiting time
- Too much work for the time allotted
- Poor decisions
- Failure to break down tasks completely
- Not enough review at steps during the process
- General disorganization (messy desk, unworkable ﬁling)
- Unﬁnished tasks
Lack of self-management
- Taking on too much
- Not enough delegation
- Not saying “no”
- Media surﬁng
- Poor self-discipline
- Faulty listening and note-taking
- Absenteeism or lateness
Lack of managing the work environment
- Drop-in visitors
- Media and phone interruptions
- Unnecessary paperwork
- Unnecessary meetings
- Confusing directions
Use this list in conjunction with your time log to decide which sappers show up in your day. Make a note of that next to the item on the time log. Identifying it is the ﬁrst step. Next, begin to eliminate the items. Some will probably be easier to get rid of than others. Some may have become habits that are hard to break. But make a start. For instance, if your weaknesses are surﬁng the internet, cut down the amount of time you spend doing that per day or only do it at a set time during the day. It may be easier for you to eliminate these time sappers a few at a time or one at a time, but write down a date when you will address each one and then do it. Review your list from time to time to see that you’re making progress. Making these changes will be worth it when you see the increase in your productivity.
Replacing Old Habits with New Habits
One problem with trying to achieve
better organization and become more efficient is that old habits have a very
strong pull on all of us. Whether it’s good for us or bad for us, we get
comfortable with our old routine and our old ways. Change is difficult, and it’s
even harder when we think that we’re giving up something we like. Studies have
shown that the best way to give up an old habit is to replace it with a new one. Instead of spending the ﬁrst hour of every day, for
instance, doing e-mail, you’ve already dedicated that hour to beginning a
project. So, all you have to do is sit down at your desk and start working. If
you have a problem with procrastination, you don’t even have to think about
whether you want to do something – it’s there in your action plan, so you do
Good habit boosters
If you’re one of those people who have an extremely difficult time breaking old habits, here are some tips that might work for you:
- Break one habit at a time. If change is very difficult for you, focus on just one change at a time. Replace an old habit with a new one, one habit at a time, and stick with that one change until you feel comfortable that you won’t go back to your old habit. Habits are not easy to break, and some are much harder than others. You might disagree, but think about how often you tweet or check your Facebook page. That probably makes the point very clear to some of you. (Haha.)
- Small habits. Here’s another tip for making changes in a more gentle way. I only need to remind you of New Year’s resolutions here. You probably know that gym memberships are at their peak at New Year’s and that most people never use those memberships. The people who do use them drop off after the ﬁrst month. For a lot of people, it’s just too much of a change. They have to give up their free time, get themselves to the gym, and then actually exercise. It all seems like a good idea, but then reality sets in. It’s much better to start by trying to change a smaller habit – for instance, cut your coffee drinking from 6 cups to 2 cups a day. You might have more success with that than trying to cut out coffee completely. The point is that if you have 20 things you’d like to change and change is difficult for you, start with one small thing. This will give you the conﬁdence to go on to bigger items.
- Focus on starting. For instance, if you’re very out of shape and haven’t exercised for a while, don’t set your goal at running a marathon. Maybe it’s a good long-term goal, but in the short term, walking or running around the block is something you might be able to do without getting so discouraged that you’ll quit. Just get started. So many people fail, not because they don’t have big dreams and good intentions, but because they just can’t get started. Many times if people just start something, they realize it’s not as hard as they were afraid it would be.
- Don’t miss two straight days. Get back on the horse. For instance, you don’t enjoy ﬁlling out your action plan and you not sure it’s worth the trouble, so you skip a day. That’s really not being fair yourself. If you haven’t seen progress in your organization and efficiency, it’s very likely because you haven’t been at it long enough. Getting off-track for one day and getting back on track is a lot better than quitting. Don’t quit.
General Efficiency and Organizational Strategies
1. Keep Everything in Its Place – Sounds simple but actually practicing it takes will power and consistency so you can form a habit.
2. Keep a To-Do List – Every morning breaks down your 3 most important tasks and focuses on them until they are ﬁnished.
3. Simplify your surroundings – clean up clutter!
4. Put things away when you are done using them! Why wait and clutter your work area?
5. Figure out what time of day you are at your personal peak – schedule important tasks for that time.
6. For a more efficient day – simply get up earlier.
7. Set deadlines for your own personal tasks and strive to meet them.
8. Don’t be afraid to take control of your time. Focus on the tasks that YOU need to complete.
9. Keep your working area tidy.
10 Find items that have more than one use – unless required, avoid specialty tools that only have one single use.
11. Be decisive! Don’t overthink things – make a clear cut decision and follow it.
12. Always plan your tasks ahead. A little planning at the start will save a lot of time in the long run.
13. Batch up your tasks. It can be more efficient to do similar tasks all at once. Try saving all of your phone calls for a certain time for example.
14. Commit to changing problem behaviors. If you are really honest with yourself, you will be able to pinpoint daily activities that keep you from being organized.
15. Make the time. If you are a busy person then schedule some organizing time right into your daily calendar.
16. Outsource. If there is a task that you hate doing (even organization itself) then outsource it to a department that specializes in it.
17. Don’t forget the ultimate organization tool – the trash can. Throw out anything you don’t need and you will never have to “organize” it.
18. For efficiency purposes work in time “power blocks”. Focus and work hard on a task for 45 minutes and then break for 5 (or a similar type time split).
19. Use online tools! – do a Google search.
20. Just start. Start getting organized and developing habits that will improve your efficiency. It can be a struggle, but persistence and a positive attitude will help you persevere.