Biztruth #1 If you’re in business, you’re in sales.

And if you’re in sales, you need to find ways to connect with prospects & strategic partners.

Enter Bryn Johnson, Connection Expert.  Bryn helps people figure out how to connect & collaborate with prospects, partners & friends.  So I have invited her to guest post for The Biztruth Blog from time to time.  She has a wonderful sense of humor, is a gifted writer and always has great stuff to share with us.  Enjoy!

Trust me when I tell you– I LOVE to work from my home. When the role of the remote workforce gained widespread popularity a few years ago, I was thrilled to be employed by a progressive corporation that allowed the flexibility of working from home much of the time that I wasn’t on the road with clients. This was the smartest thing a corporation could do with an overachieving, workaholic like me. Give me an office that is as quick to commute to as rolling out of bed and making coffee- brilliant! The work often began before 7 am and ended when the lights went out and I went to bed. Most days I did this all in my sweats and a t-shirt. And shhhh…..many days I worked from my pajamas and took a shower between conference calls in late afternoon.

Although I was on endless conference calls and sent hundreds of emails and instant messages a day, it did not replace the camaraderie of an office life with cubicle laughter, constant interruptions and coffee breaks. This is mainly because of the value actual face-to-face interaction with coworkers brought to the day.

Fast forward to my new life as an entrepreneur. Again, I find myself joyfully working from home. I have a tremendous amount of flexibility to design my day in ways that motivate and inspire me. Although my days are usually much more balanced with writing, client calls and creative projects than they were when I had my corporate role, you guessed it- I am still doing it all in my sweats most days.

Because I have a business to build and a network to grow, I must reach out to people and make new connections and renew faded ones. I am certain that is true for you as well. Regardless of whether you are searching for a new job, working from an office, spending your day in a gallery or running your business from home, you need to make connections as well.

So what is your plan? What is your strategy? How do you ensure that you are talking to new people, adding people to your circle and renewing those relationships from the past? What! You don’t have a plan?

Here are a few quick ideas you can put in place to bolster your connections each week:

Schedule time in your calendar for connecting. You can start with 30 minutes or an hour a week. This is time you are putting aside to send emails, call people, reach out to people on professional networking sites, etc.

Now block that time and make it sacred. No rationalization here. No “better offers”. Make the decision that you will commit to this weekly activity.

Make one connection call a week and keep calling until you talk to someone (no voice mail messages!) If you adopted this simple suggestion, you will have had 52 conversations with new and renewed connections this year. If I told you to make 52 calls to people that would probably seem a bit overwhelming, but one a week is somehow much more manageable, right?

CHALLENGE: Want to step it up a notch? Meet one person a week face-to-face. Simple meetings. Invite a colleague to lunch. Have a cup of coffee with an acquaintance. Join a local networking group. Sign up for class- any kind of class. Attend a lecture and talk to someone sitting next to you.

Really, this does not need to be difficult. This does not require a new “to do” list and color-coded pens! (You know who you are!) But I can feel you resisting. I can hear you saying, “Bryn, talking to people on Facebook or sending an email really works for me” or “Bryn, a phone call is really effective and I don’t have to get dressed and go out to meet people. I lose so much productive time”.

I am going to let you in on a little secret:

To have a strong and effective network, you have to meet people the old-fashioned way. There is no replacement for a face-to-face conversation and exchange of ideas. It is so appealing on a cold day (or a super hot one) to just stay home and skip that networking event. It is so easy to rationalize that you do not have the right clothes or new business cards. Most of us are quick to find excuses to cancel a meeting that we planned a few weeks ago (when it seemed like a great idea!) rather than head out the door to network. Distractions are everywhere and yes, phone conversation and emails and IMs are indeed great ways to reach out to people.

However, my bottom line is:

You can’t make all of your connections in your pajamas!

Believe me, I’ve tried!

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