And now, for something completely different and not about photography, an article I wrote that appeared in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Dec. 7, 2012, page 21
"Three Tips to Making Great Connections. READ, PLAN, DO"
When presenting to an audience of business professionals, I always like to share my, "If I knew THEN, what I know NOW" experience. It's a good example of what not to do, and serves as a segue to my three tips to making great connections.
Before I become an audience development account executive with the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal I had a photography business whose target market in the later years was business head shots, specializing in speakers and entrepreneurs. I worked really long and hard at making connections with people and was often introduced as the "most networked photographer in the Twin Cities." I heard about the Business Journal through an account executive so I invested in my own subscription. I read it with great interest, and was entertained and informed by the news. However, I never used its full potential for my business because I didn't "read, plan, do" with this news publication or any other.
In my experience with the Business Journal, I have learned three simple steps to making great connections: "read, plan, do" with the news publications you are reading:
STEP 1: READ. Be disciplined with your time and block out a firm appointment on your calendar to read the publication you've invested in. You've already spent the money, now spend the time. I book a minimum of 30 minutes to read it, using the simple tools provided such as the index and table of contents. When I'm reading a print edition and looking for possible connections, I use a highlighter to underline the people and companies of greatest interest, and in digital editions, I bookmark the pages.
STEP 2: PLAN. Prioritize and plan your next steps. While reading your news source, choose two to 10 targets to focus on and research for connecting in the future. Less is often better so you do quality work and experience more positive results. Use available tools to research your prospect's industry, company and career profile. I choose the Business Journal website for research because it has uploaded its eight-year news article archive and made it available for subscribers. I like to read about and look for trends and possible connections. Armed with as much information as I can, I plan my time, budget and outreach action steps.
STEP 3: DO. To make the best connections, decide what you're willing and able to do and then do it. Best practices, in an ideal situation, is to reach out and connect with an individual seven times via a combination of e-mails, LinkedIn e-mails, telephone calls, U.S. mail correspondence and face-to-face connections. Set the number of action items that you can handle and work it to the best of your ability.
And therein lies the old hot button, the "do" piece. I have heard and since experienced firsthand that this is where the connections really happen for the successful people who reach out, get connected and follow through. Don't be shy, reserved or Minnesota Nice. You and your business deserve more. I strongly encourage you to "read, plan and do," so you make great connections with the business professionals you can help, and who, in turn, may be able to help you.
appeared in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Dec. 7, 2012, page 21