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How To: Write a Book in 3 Months

How To: Write a Book in 3 Months

JS, Medium, writing

The 5 Steps to Writing A Book

Have you always thought about writing a book, but it just seems so daunting and impossible?

This is one of those times that you really have to think past the big picture. Much like every difficult journey, writing a book starts with a single step.

Breaking down the book writing process into more manageable, or at least more realistic and approachable steps is key to actually writing one. You don’t just come up with an idea and start writing, because your idea will peter out, or you’ll come up against a dead end, or any other of a million excuses to stop writing.

If you are looking at a nonfiction book, perhaps in entrepreneurship, business advice, self-help, or more, you’re going to want to write a book that is 30,000–45,000 words maximum. Which definitely sounds like a lot, but when you realize that a 45,000-word book is about 180 pages, that already sounds more doable!

So let’s take a number from the middle there and say that your book will be approximately 37,000 words, or about 148 pages. Broken down further, you are looking at writing about 3,000 words per week.

The 5 Steps To Writing A Book

When approaching a book idea, your first step should be to create an outline. Make it as detailed as you want, and think of it as a living document that can change and grow. Create a full outline, and include all of your ideas and plans and then work with it until the order makes sense, it says what you want to say, and you make sure that topics are grouped correctly. You will also be able to see where you plan to break it into chapters, and it will help you stay on topic.

Your outline is your first draft.

Your actual book will be an incredibly fleshed out version of your outline.

When you think about writing a book in 3 months, it sounds crazy! But 3,000 words per week is very doable! It can be 440 words per day, which is less than that click bait article you just read on Facebook, or about the number of words in two average length emails.

By putting time in your schedule and making writing a part of your routine, you will be able to write 3,000 words per week easily. Even an hour every third day or 15 minutes daily, however, you make writing a habit.

Make yourself accountable. Tell people you’re writing a book, or put money down on a publisher, or in advertising, or have a friend text you every other day asking how much you have written. Hold yourself accountable for writing every week.

Don’t get hung up on word count, though. Keep in mind the general length of your book as you continue to write, but don’t force yourself to stop because you hit a certain length, or force yourself to continue after the book is finished just because you want a specific length. It’s not about length, it’s about the story itself, and you don’t want to cheapen it needlessly. Word count is more for you to have a general starting point and to know how word count translates to book pages.

Write. Once you have the outline and you’re being held accountable, sit down every day, every week, and write. It is easier to delete poor writing than it is to have nothing on a page and start from scratch. Read over your outline, think about what you are trying to say, and just write.

At the end of 12 weeks, you will have a book. You may need revisions, you may want more time, but if you start now, in 3 months, you will have enough for a book.

It’s all about breaking down the process into manageable steps, which sounds completely reasonable and logical, but is difficult to do when you’ve been thinking about writing a book since forever, and you’ve never really started because it is a huge project, and who has the time?

You do.

You have the time and the ability to start right now. Start with 1 page, start with 100 words. Start now, and surprise yourself.

Working From Home: Me, Myself & I

Entrepreneur, JS

I work from home full-time, which is a pretty recent thing (3 weeks!). I am LOVING life and my job, and this is the first time in my adult life that I am excited to go to work every day and that I make my own schedule.

The positives far outweigh the negatives in my new lifestyle. I can travel more (and have!), as I can work from anywhere with wifi (like a New Orleans cafe, or my sister’s house). I can make my own hours (all of them), I can stay in my PJs and not shower that day (it happens). I can take on new clients, or not. I can choose the type of work that I’m doing. I am my own boss.

But there are certainly a few small drawbacks. It’s easy to oversleep. It’s easier to slack off when no one is watching. It’s easy to keep working well past business hours. It’s easy to get distracted. It’s easy to eat poorly.

I thought I was going to finally have time to go to the gym again. When I was working full time and also building this business, I was working every evening until bedtime and all weekend long. It was a constant grind, and I loved it, but I was busy every waking moment. Previously, I’d gone to the gym 3-4 days per week!

Now, I am finding it all too easy to snack all day, much more than ever before, and then get caught up and busy and suddenly, Husband is home from work, I wrap up my day, and then I want to hang out with him, not leave and go to the gym. When I have time between calls during the day, I’m not going to the gym, I’m writing, organizing, working, marketing, etc.

So, I’ve gained about 10 pounds, which I’m feeling bad and insecure about. But again, I love what I’m doing and that is my own fault.

I do spend more time with my cat, less time with people, and have found it all too easy to stay home for several days at a time. It’s actually an issue, because I don’t have a ton of friends in NY, and I am getting isolated.

To address this, my plan is to try to get out of the house and:

  • Take walks
  • Go with my neighbor and her kids to the park once a week
  • Find somewhere to volunteer
  • Try to get back to the gym
  • Pop into the city now and then

Last Friday, I took the afternoon off and went into the city to meet up with my old boss and some friends for lunch and then drinks, and it was great! I felt like my old self, but better.

Being an entrepreneur is great. I am truly happier than ever, but it can be stressful, isolating, and a bit lonely, and I need to make sure my physical and mental health are properly addressed, not just my business. I used to love going to the gym because it was my “me time,” and now I am having “me time” all the time! Maybe that has been a stumbling block as well.

My biggest challenges in working from home and for myself have been time management and prioritizing tasks and projects. I will be looking more deeply into both of these sibjects soon. I did recently write about time management for Thrive Global, which can be found here.

I am constantly trying to improve. I want to learn, grow, build, make money, write more, and do better every day. So when I am able to identify what I’m doing wrong, I can work on myself and do better!

I guess the advice I am trying to give myself is this: it’s a lot of change, you’re still figuring it out, 10 pounds isn’t that big of a deal, you’re working on it. Relax! You’re doing great!

 

Bonus! Here is the picture of my March employee of the month winner!

End of an Era & New Chapters

Entrepreneur

I have been working 2 jobs for months. I’ve been working in my corporate sales job in the staffing industry during the day and then building and running a writing business in the evenings and weekends.

My husband has been having an unlimited amount of nag-free video game time, and I have been so busy I could barely catch my breath. We were both loving every minute.

When I decided to really try to be a writer, I told Husband that I was going to be cautiously optimistic and say that I could quit my job in 12 months.

I got my first big paying client on 11/1/2016, and met my arbitrary number that we agreed to in January 2017, where I could have quit altogether. Instead, I went down to part-time, figuring that would help me with the transition to working from home. I was wrong, it actually was very difficult and a strange dynamic to be working part-time in an office and part-time at home, and still having to work nights and weekends to get everything done.

So 3/8 was my last corporate work day. My team and I had lunch and it was bittersweet for me. In the end, the team moves forward and will of course, succeed wildly without my help, and I will fade from their minds, to be thought of when one of my clients pop up or my name shows up in the database. I’ll become “oh, she used to work here.” 10 years of corporate sales and business development fading fast in my rearview.

Instead, I’m living my dream.

It’s still bittersweet to leave. Corporate sales has been my home for about 10 years, and I have had the most amazing boss for the last few years, a guy who has become a close and trusted friend, who has been very supportive of my new venture, and without whom I would have gone crazier, sooner.

I’ve also recently discovered that I go stir-crazy when at home alone for too long. Time to start making work-from-home and neighborhood friends! I can go to the gym to get out for a bit, and I also plan to find somewhere to volunteer for a couple hours per week, to get out of the house and give back to my community.

I am extremely lucky to have a supportive husband and family and friends, and people who are happy seeing me happy and successful. I am so full of love and words right now. I have a TON going on with my writing, including 4 new clients this month and a ton of work. I am loving it, and I am so excited about going off on my own. Sink or swim, it’s all on me.

I am proud, I am scared, and I am excited.
I’m exciterrified.

Time Management & Working From Home

Time Management & Working From Home

Entrepreneur, JS

As a working from home entrepreneur, time management is extremely important to me and my success, just like it was when I was an 8:30 to 5:30 corporate salesperson. I think the unifying thing across all jobs and all industries is being able to effectively manage you time and all of your priorities and tasks.

 

When you work from home or are an entrepreneur in general, time management and work-life balance is extremely important, and may be the single most impactful thing in business.

 

It’s hard to turn off being an entrepreneur, and I have long tended to be available days, nights, weekends, anytime. I answered emails, I jumped on calls, I said yes to every “hey, can you edit this super quick?” questions that came my way. I had to learn to turn it off, disconnect, and spend time with my family and a good book.

 

I don’t need to be constantly available. I am providing a service and high value to my clients, I am finally figuring out that I don’t need to sacrifice all of my time to my work and my clients. Yes, my clients’ needs are incredibly important to me. But so is my health and happiness and my family and home life. Finding that balance has been a difficult but necessary road in my life and business.

 

Since I am not available at 10pm on Saturdays anymore, I needed to be as productive as possible during my business hours and manage my time wisely, in order to get everything done! Managing time effectively does not mean just staying busy for the day, it means being productive and getting done the things that need to be done, not just clicking around and checking email!

 

Here are some tips for time management that can help you really have a productive day that allows you to get offline and enjoy life after work!

 

  1. Daily/Weekly To-Do Lists

This is something that has helped me immensely! I tried to get into bullet journaling, but I am not a pinterest-worthy bullet journaler and it didn’t stick. The thing that has stuck is the daily listing of to dos. Every day, I write a list of all the things I want to accomplish either today specifically or this week in general.

 

I don’t know about you, but checking things off of a list is super satisfying for me! I move to dos up from the day before if needed, and I star the things that MUST be done today. Deadlines are written next to the task if there are specific due dates.

 

By rewriting the list daily, I am cementing my tasks in my head and able to really prioritize what needs to be done first.

 

  1. Schedule in Some Down Time

At the office, people get lunch breaks, smoke breaks, walk around breaks, etc. You can’t expect yourself to focus for 8 hours nonstop every day, it just doesn’t happen and isn’t realistic. Instead of giving yourself unrealistic expectations and then being disappointed when you don’t meet them, make sure to give yourself some down time.

 

I start every day with coffee and checking Facebook. I check my email and my social media marketing as well, but I START with coffee, petting my cat, and Facebook before jumping into work.

 

Next, I write my daily todo list, and check my email. At lunch time, I generally log off the computer and eat while I read a book or have a one-sided conversation with my cat. In the afternoon, I might go take a walk, or go to the gym, or just get up and stretch.

 

Have priorities and tasks for each day, but allow yourself to walk around and read the news, and text your friend, too.

 

  1. When Working, Block Out Distractions

Like the down time, schedule work time. Use a calendar or an alert or whatever gets you ready to work, to let you know it’s time to do this task or that activity or call that person. When it’s time to get down to business, do the task. Close out your social media tabs, and focus on the specific activity you need to complete.

 

In my case, I have several clients that I do weekly blogging for. That means on Mondays and Tuesdays, I have to block out time to work on specific client blogs. I will do something like “10 am: Research and write blog for X client on topic Y.” When that time comes around, I turn off Facebook, put my phone face down, and write the blog for my client, edit it, and turn it in. If it take 45 minutes, great. If it takes an hour and a half, great. As long as it gets done. And work gets done faster when uninterrupted and when I’m not allowing my mind to wander to instagram or texting my mom.

 

I also find that when work gets done faster, I feel better about it than when it takes hours or days because I just can’t focus on it. My clients are happy, I’m happy, it’s awesome.

 

  1. Stay Organized

This fits right into my to do lists. Staying organized saves me time and energy, and most importantly, keeps my client information and needs at the forefront. As a solo practitioner, if I lose track of a client or forget to do something for them, I risk losing some of my income! Keeping contracts, invoices, tasks, priorities, client needs, and my work organized is one of the biggest parts of my success.

 

  1. Learn to Say No

This has been one of the hardest things for me to learn and is something I still struggle with and work on. I want to be indispensable to my clients, and also prove my value over and over, so I tend to say yes to anything they ask of me.

 

This can lead me to being overwhelmed with work if I didn’t really have the time for whatever I said yes to. I could miss deadlines or be overworked, or be working until late at night, like I did when I was working two jobs.

 

I love writing and editing and being an entrepreneur, but I can’t be everything to everyone. I am still working on saying no when I don’t have time for something or if it is not part of the scope of my work or what I’m paid to do.

 

Side Tip: Don’t Ever Work For Free

Especially say no to doing work for free! Even a trial article for a new client is paid work, though often at a discounted rate. Do not give away your work for free. You are a professional, and your time and skills are valuable. Obviously an exception to this rule is when you are purposely doing something as a volunteer!
In the end, I have to protect my time and keep my work from completely overrunning my home life. In order to be a good wife, daughter, friend, and individual, these time management skills have been important in my personal and professional development and evolution.

Becoming An Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur, JS

Being an entrepreneur is a major goal for a lot of people, and the Millennial generation is more entrepreneurial than previous generations – by a lot.

 

According to the 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report, the millennial generation are starting business earlier than the Baby Boomers did, but they also are starting a lot more of them, and are more socially conscious.

 

I never dreamed of being an entrepreneur and building a business. I actually was perfectly happy working for my last boss, as he was my boss for several years and became a close friend. He always encouraged my work and supported my training and growth, and I was incredibly lucky that he also encouraged me in my path to being an entrepreneur.

 

Even now, if someone wanted to hire me full time to be a writer and editor, sure! Why not? YOU take care of the taxes and retirement account, the benefits, the liability!

 

But being an entrepreneur has been thrust upon me, so that I can live my dream, and I am in love with it. Sure, taxes are more annoying now and I’ll certainly never get a refund again! Sure, it’s a bit more paperwork, and the responsibility is all mine.

 

On the other hand, I am very Type-A, very organized, and I am loving every second. I am in the exact right moment in my life, the stars are exactly aligned to allow me to do this, and start a business from my couch.

 

I have met some amazing people, found awesome clients that have opened my eyes to new ideas, new ways to live and learn, and have even gotten the chance to do my dream job: book editing and ghostwriting.

 

My entrepreneurship journey happened incredibly quickly. It was almost 3 months today day from getting my first big project to quitting my full time day job. I am still navigating and figuring everything out, and I’m sure I’ll make missteps.
But I’m a businessowner, and that is all a part of the process.

Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing

JS, Sales & Marketing

Social media is extremely important these days. If you don’t have social media accounts and a website, how will people find you, ask questions, learn about you, and buy your product?


With more and more business and commerce happening online, you MUST have an online presence to compete.

 

More than that, social media is a fun, free marketing tool. It’s a great way to engage directly with your audience, talk back and forth to individuals, look for new products, services, and clients, and share fun pictures and content that show you off in a great way.

 

Since you control the posts, you’re able to have fun with what you’re sharing. Share work content, fun behind the scenes pictures, pictures of your office, and more. Share personal anecdotes and moments, and really connect with your audience.

 

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and more are ways that really allow you to show off your brand and grow in an organic way, creating a loyal fanbase and a way to share things on multiple platforms, to different audience and target audience members, and allows you to interact in a very real way with people.

 

As our economy has recovered and as technology has progressed, it is clear that online shopping has become the norm. From clothes, to groceries, to office supplies and books, the trend is only moving further towards an all-online life.

 

You must use social media to stay relevant, so why not enjoy it? I love using Instagram and connecting with people, posting pictures of my work and my cat, pictures I find online that make me laugh, and pictures of my real life. Who I am on social media is no different than who I am in real life. I represent myself as accurately as possible.

 

I also post links to my articles and posts, and market my writing and editing business. As odd as it may sound to some, Instagram specifically has been amazing, and I have gotten many clients from meeting and talking to people on there. Others from referrals, and classic sales emails and calls.

 

When using social media for marketing, try to follow the 80/20 rule, where 80% of your posts are either informative or fun, and only 20% are your products or services and “sales-y.” If you come off as only a salesperson, people aren’t going to want to engage with you.

 

While social media isn’t the only tool in my sales and marketing kit, it is a major one, and one that I enjoy utilizing. It’s also something I do for my clients, helping with expanding social media, and social media management. Posting and sharing and hashtagging and engaging with people.
If you’re interested in checking out my social media, here is my Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin!

Content Marketing & Strategy

Entrepreneur, JS

The best way to increase sales and boost your business is to make your company the go-to experts in your area. By having a solid marketing strategy that includes content marketing, you are increasing your value to customers, establishing yourself as a leader in the industry, and creating a more loyal customer base. Content marketing focuses on ways to engage you audience, and uses content to drive profitable behaviors in customers.

 
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing can be defined as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

 
The key words here are valuable, relevant, and consistent. Unique content will drive up your rankings and put you in the position of offering them a direct benefit of even just visiting your website. Once you have potential clients on your site, you can get to converting them! Getting people to your site is over half the battle.

 
Strong content is not just blog posts, but also the copy on your website, your ads, and your social media. As opposed to spam, when you are providing free relevant and valuable information, customers are more likely to trust you, and continue to remain loyal to you. Great quality content is a key part of any marketing strategy, including social media, SEO rankings, inbound marketing, email campaigns, and more.

 

 

There are four steps to an effective content marketing strategy, though every company is different and you will want to adapt to what works best for your business and your goals. The first step is figuring out what you want to accomplish and the risks associated, secondly you create a business plan for your goals and the value you want to provide, which includes what message you want to send and keeping your branding consistent. Next you need to figure out your target audience and their wants and needs, and what content and engagement specific to them would look like. Fourth, you develop a channel plan; what channels are you using for this content marketing? These are the platforms you’ll use to put out your content and tell your story, and should also include your criteria and objectives of each platform.

 
Your content marketing strategy will grow and change as your business does. A fantastic way to move your business forward, attract new customers, and increase sales is to offer valuable, relevant and consistent new content in a smart, engaging way that matches your goals and your branding.

Pricing: Don’t Undervalue Yourself!

Entrepreneur, JS

I have always, always, wanted to be a writer.

 

When I was a kid, I filled journals with the ramblings of being a tortured little sister, and then the angsty poetry of my teenage Myspace years. It progressed to song lyrics, poems, book and story ideas, and the occasional update about my life. I have a whole shelf of notebooks, composition books, and journals from over the years.

 

I am now a writer, and in another post, I will go into excruciating detail about how that came to be, the steps I took, and how it all worked to become a success for me.

 

I am a freelance writer. In my process to becoming an entrepreneur, I did a lot of research and asked other entrepreneurs for advice, for help with things like invoicing, portfolios, small business tools, contracts, and the big one: pricing.

 

I have met a lot of young entrepreneurs over the years and they all have one thing in common: big dreams and a bad estimation of their value. Watching Shark Tank is also a great example of people with crazy valuations! They either completely overvalue or undervalue their companies and themselves.

 

The truth is that your time and your skills are valuable. If it were easy to be a writer, everyone would do it. Just because YOU find it relatively easy to write blogs or create a website or make a logo, certainly doesn’t mean it is.

 

When starting freelancing, most people tend to undervalue themselves. They might say it is because they are so new, or are trying to prove themselves, or they don’t have a portfolio. No matter what they say, it is normal to try to undercharge when starting out.

 

I did it, too! For my first couple of clients, I researched average pricing for the specific types of writing projects I was working on, and I put my pricing just below the average.

 

But those prices didn’t account for the actual time it took me to research and put together the writing, the posting, edits, and client communication. In the end, for my first project, I ended up only getting about $7 per hour, even though the overall price for the article was around “average.”

 

As time went on, I made sure to increase my prices to the point where I am able to make a good wage for the work that I’m doing. Even for my longer-term or repeat clients. This is something I see a lot of questions about in online freelance forums. You can increase your prices, you just have to be honest. Try something like “I have enjoyed working with you, and as of XX date, my prices will be increasing to XY price. Because of our prior relationship, I am going to extend your current discounted price for one more project/month/etc.”

 

I had a phone conversation with one of my bigger clients, and we agreed to almost double my price, plus a nominal fee for research time! You really just have to ask. Your clients already like you and see value in your work, and they will understand that you need to be fairly compensated. This is very similar to how you might handle a salary negotiation in a corporate position.

 

Another thing I see a lot of is questions about sites like Upwork.com and Constant Content, which are sites that take a heavy fee to allow you to bid on work from paying clients, but highly encourage very low prices. Be careful when using these sites, especially about severely undervaluing yourself. Do research on these types of sites before jumping on, and manage your expectations reasonably. Some people do extensive filtering and careful proposals and do well on these sites. I tried it briefly and was very frustrated by the low prices and the amount of proposals on things like “write me 5 blog posts for $6.” For me, these types of sites were not worth my time.

 

Side note: no matter how much you want new clients, don’t give your work away for free. Legitimate companies that want you to do trial work will pay you for it.
Your work, your time, and your expertise are all valuable. The worst thing you can do for yourself is to undervalue yourself to potential clients. Research average prices for your specific work and your location, and take a cue from that. Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to raise your prices as you get more experience. You are here to make money. Just because you love it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be profitable!

We the Young People

Entrepreneur
www.shanevanderhart.com

I believe that our generations are the ones with the power to change the world. We are large in number, we scream for tolerance and change, and Generations X and Y were the first generations to be raised during the rise and rapid evolution of the internet and technology. We were among the first to be able to access the entire world and the wealth of information on the internet.

Today’s teenagers and young adults may be somewhat spoiled from the ridiculous amount of technology and information at our fingertips. Who needs to remember phone numbers or how to do simple math when we can just use our phones? Who needs to actually read the classics when you can just Wikipedia the summary? But whether we are spoiled, entitled, or just misunderstood in an evolving world, we can change everything, and we already are doing so.

 

In an article on Salon.com, author Alexander Balkin talks about why calling Millennials lazy and entitled is wrong, and discusses how we got here: “Baby boomers came of age in an era of unprecedented prosperity. They were raised by parents who had survived poverty, war and the true sacrifice of a generation burdened with great moral struggles. As a whole, they experienced economic and physical security. Baby boomers received, by today’s standards, inexpensive and widely available education, preparing them for a thriving and open job market. […] So what did they do with all their good fortune? From the time the baby boomers took over, the United States has experienced an economic environment plagued with unfounded asset and real-estate bubbles and collapses.”

 

There may be more people in Generation X and Y than there are Boomers, but the Baby Boomers are the ones currently holding office, holding the high level CEO jobs in a lot of companies, and are a lot of the ones making policies that affect our lives. Around 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day and are retiring, and now it’s our turn.

 

Imagine what we can do. We can literally change the world. Look what we’ve already done.

 

More young people voted in 2008 and 2012 than ever before. We voted, and it just goes to show that your vote does matter. Your vote helped change the direction our country was going in. Generations X and Y have live-tweeted catastrophes, getting information out faster than ever, such as in Egypt and Israel, they have demanded information from governments, they have turned their arguments into petitions, protests, and internet rants.They have leaked information that they believed the people deserved to know.

 

We have built social networks that literally connected the world, we believe in starting something from nothing, and we know that with the right idea, anything is possible. Our generations have created Google and eBay, we have Facebook and Twitter to unite people globally at the touch of a button, we made the Hubble telescope and the biggest strides in space exploration. We are the most entrepreneurial generations so far.

 

Our generations are fighting for LGBT rights, the ones who lobbied the loudest for equal constitutional rights for gays and lesbians to be allowed to marry. We follow in the footsteps of every Civil Rights movement in our history, which proves over and over again that we the people know what we want, and what is right, and are willing to yell and fight and work for it.

 

Jeff Gordinier, author of X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft But Can Still Keep Everything From Sucking, has a pretty awesome quote from when he was featured in Time magazine.

 

“Shirking the media myth that Xers are slackers, Gordinier argues that Generation X has — to borrow a ‘60s term — changed the world. Citing Gen-X icons like Quentin Tarantino and Jon Stewart, along with Gen-X triumphs like Google, YouTube, and Amazon, among others, Gordinier argues that not only are Xers far from over, they might be the most unsung and influential generation of all time. ‘Gen-X stomping grounds of the past — the espresso bar, the record shop, the thrift store — have been resurrected in digital form. The new bohemia is less a place than it is a headspace. It’s flexible enough to bypass all the old binaries. It encompasses mass and class, mainstream and marginal, yuppie and refusenik, gearhead and Luddite. It’s everywhere and nowhere in particular,’ he writes. [In short,] ‘GenXers are doing the quiet work of keeping America from sucking.’”

 

So, rejoice, young(ish) people. We are changing the world, one step at a time.
Seriously, we have the interconnectedness, the tolerance, and the desire to learn, grow, and change the entire world and how it works. We are, in all terrifying honesty, the future.

This article originally was posted on Huffington Post on 8/23/2016  by me (original content).

Networking: Standing Out in a Crowd!

LinkedIn
networking1
Photo Credit: http://www.business2community.com/strategy/order-work-need-network-01640509#211hApMQjqjMpTYO.97

Depending on who you ask, networking is either relatively enjoyable or a necessary evil to suffer through.

If you were to ask me, I’d be able to regale you with anecdotes from hundreds of career fairs, association meetings, networking meetups, and client visits. I genuinely enjoy the face-to-face connection you get in a networking  situation. You get a more casual environment to meet people, discuss business, but also pepper your conversation with real pieces of your personality. It’s not a job interview, so the solemnity tends to be lessened, and people generally feel more comfortable in a group setting.

I know some people who wouldn’t go to a large networking event even if you paid them, and I know others who knew about it before you tell them, and are already registered.

Obviously, our comfort levels in crowds of near-strangers are individual to each of us. I am a salesperson, and people are my specialty. I have no problem walking into a crowd and introducing myself and my company, and enjoying meeting new people every time I turn around. I am marryied to an introvert who finds it stressful to be in crowds of strangers, and tends to not know how to introduce himself to complete strangers. Luckily, we balance each other out!

It’s not only a personality thing, though. Usually at an event, I’m representing my company, so I feel that I’m able to offer value to people and to companies. I am able to bring something to the table, so starting a conversation is even easier! Not that as myself I am not valuable, simply that as a representative of my company, I am bringing a different sort of value to the table.

Here is an example of how networking has been a huge help to me previously. I was tasked with bringing a rebranded company name out to market in NYC when the company rebranded in 2014. Being able to get in front of people who knew me as the former brand, and explain in person our new name and logo, but with the same great services, was the best way for people to associate the new name with our old brand that was so well known. People could associate me with the new name, as they already did with the old one. Giving presentations at networking events allows me to stamp myself and my company into people’s brains.

A great networker is someone who is remembered. They are not the funniest or best looking person in the room, or the one who spoke the loudest. It is the person who had great conversations with people, who was credible and knowledgeable without being pushy or a know-it-all. It’s someone who focused their undivided attention on the person they were speaking with, and not allowing passersby to distract them. A great networker expands their network by mingling with new people and introducing themselves to newcomers, and being a genuine, friendly source of information.

Bringing value to your events is so important. If you are looking for a job, the way you should think of this is “what do I bring to the table?” This is a view of what YOU can do for a company or service, and don’t even begin to focus on what they can do for you. You are not owed anything by companies, but you may be bringing fresh perspectives, specialized experience, or a tech-savvy eagerness to learn to them, all of which are invaluable to companies.

Expanding your network is vital to branding yourself (or your company) in your chosen industry or market. You can really learn and gain a lot from meeting pillars of your field, or perhaps you are one and you have a lot of knowledge you could be teaching others. Everyone has value to bring to every conversation. Mingling with other experts is a great way to learn new things, meet potential clients, and more.

As a salesperson, when you are marketing anything: yourself, your employer, a client, you are a subject-matter expert putting yourself in a position to expand your network. Hand out business cards, and get them from people you meet. Connect with them on LinkedIn and check in occasionally. Networking is an important piece of the puzzle, but not the only one!

Have you ever had an amazing or amazingly bad networking experience? What has expanding your network done for you, personally and professionally?

This article originally was posted on LinkedIn on 3/11/2015  by me (original content). It has been edited a bit for relevance.