Tag Archives | networking

What’s the purpose of attending holiday parties?

It’s that time of the yPurpose of Attending Holiday Parties, Purpose of Holiday Partiesear when every night, weekend, and day is filled with Christmas parties, company holiday parties, and gift giving galore! If you’re an introvert like most financial types, it can be exhausting to put yourself out there socially. I always ask every year, “what’s the purpose of attending holiday parties?” Trust me when I say, there are numerous benefits to attending holiday parties this year.

The Purpose of Holiday Parties

Although some may dread getting an invitation to a holiday shindig, there are important things you should take into consideration. So let’s take a look at the purpose of holiday parties and the purpose of attending holiday parties.

Purpose of Attending Holiday Parties

Company culture is a major contributor to how employees perform in a business. This is a company’s chance to show their employees how important they are. It is an opportunity to mingle with a different department. Whether or not your boss made it mandatory, holiday parties are a great excuse to network and show how valuable you really are. Who knows, maybe you’ll get a shiny new promotion out of it! Most importantly, a holiday party is a way to show gratitude to employees in a personal and professional manner.

Not all holiday parties you will be invited to attend will be for your own company.  Don’t shy away from attending that party your banker invited you to.  While it may sound exhausting to mingle with people you don’t know after a long day of work, seize the opportunity to build your professional network in a fun and non-threatening environment.  After all, wouldn’t you rather network over a cup of holiday punch than across the table at a boring seminar luncheon?

How It Impacts Financial Leaders

Financial leaders (and potential financial leaders) do more than simply find results and number-crunch. Financial leaders familiarize themselves with the goings-on in other departments, including sales and operations. This benefits the decisions they make in the future. A financial leader understands the importance of combining the strengths and opinions of everyone in the company, not just the finance department.  A holiday party is a free event (for the participants, at least) to network and build those relationships.

The best financial leaders recognize the importance of having a strong professional network.  Holiday parties for organizations other than your own give you the opportunity to expand your reach and meet people that you otherwise wouldn’t be in front of.  The nice lady from the software company might have just the answer you’ve been looking for to your inventory tracking problem.  The young recruiter from the staffing firm might seem pushy right now, but you may need him in 6 months.

You never know when the connections you make outside your office will pay off.

Introvert vs. Extrovert

What kind of person are you? Are you the type who stands in the back of the room, checking your watch? Or are you the person to catch everyone’s attention (sometimes a little too easily)? Here’s how to handle different personality types aPurpose of Attending Holiday Parties, Purpose of Holiday Partiesnd how to absolutely rock this year’s holiday parties.

Need guidance in networking? Download your free Networking for Introverts guide and start building your network today!

How To Handle Different Types of People

Handling different personality types can be tough, but after a lot of practice and the right guidance, those 2-3 hours will fly right by. First is understanding the people around you – are they the life of the party, shy guy, new hire, or gossiper? These aren’t the only personality types you encounter at a holiday party, but they generally fall under one of two categories:

  1. Introvert: This is the person that hides behind their drink. The best way to socialize with an introvert is to thank them for taking the time to come, and acknowledge something small. If she has a new outfit, compliment her. If he brought a dish, try it out! It always feels better to know you exist in a large group of people. If you are the introvert, then the best way to survive the night is to participate in the festivities, but conserve your energy by taking frequent breaks. Know yourself, and know your limits – not everyone has the same caliber of excitement. Finally, know that it is okay to leave. Have your exit plan ready when you need it.
  2. Extrovert: Extroverts love a good party. They often tell a lot of stories and have a great ability to connect to others. However, sometimes extroverts might overstay their welcome. As an extrovert, a good way to avoid this is to have a plan. Know who will be there, keep a few stories and events in your memory bank, and remember to eat. All that talking can’t be done on an empty stomach!

How To Rock Holiday Parties

Other than handling different personalities types, here are a few more suggestions to consider.

Prepare Some Conversation Kickstarters

Before you get to the holiday party, have some helpful phrases to break the ice with people. Some of these include:

“What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2017?”

“Have you gone on any vacations this year? Are you planning any vacations for next year?”

Or even referring to something you’ve read about them this year is a great ice breaker. Remember to listen, and not always tell your own experiences.

Choose 3-4 People to Connect With

Many people are intimated by the sheer number of attendees at a holiday gathering.  So, choose 3-4 people to connect with. The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to talk to everyone. Instead, spend your time engaged in meaningful conversation with a few people that you’ve been wanting to connect with.  How do you make sure that you get in front of the person you’d most like to chat with?

Well you should plan to…

Purpose of Attending Holiday Parties, Purpose of Holiday PartiesGet There Early

Getting to a holiday party early has more perks than just having the first access to all of the food. Remember that this is a professional event, and most likely everyone will show up on time to leave on time. Get there early so that you can survey the room as people arrive and make sure that you get to talk to that one contact you’ve been hoping to get in front of.

Arriving early also allows you to “stake out your territory” so that you make sure to get a prime spot to meet people rather than being stuck in the back corner of the room where no one can get to you.

Be Fun & Professional

Since this is a professional event, there are some limitations. Dress appropriately, don’t overstay your welcome and eat and drink in moderation.  It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit, but you want people to remember you for the right reasons, not because you look great with a lampshade on your head.

Conclusion

For an introvert, an invitation to a holiday party can be about as welcome as a root canal.  Rather than seeing the experience as painful, recognize the opportunity it presents to have fun with your co-workers or build your professional network.  Don’t worry about being the life of the party and meeting everyone in attendance.  Focus on those few people that you really want to connect with and make sure that you leave a good impression with them.

And most importantly, have fun!

How will you get through your holiday parties? Download your free Networking for Introverts guide to help build those relationships. 

Purpose of Attending Holiday Parties, Purpose of Holiday Parties

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10 Reasons Why You Should Bother With Networking

When I was a young accountant, I always wondered to myself… “Why should I bother with networking?” It seemed like a waste of time and money.  As I grew from an accountant into a business owner/CFO, I learned that networking is a vital function of doing business.

But for some, networking can be a daunting task.  Introverts, especially, can convince themselves that going to luncheons, breakfasts, or cocktail hours are unnecessary and pointless tasks that CEOs require of their financial leaders.  Most of all, they fear “death by networking.”

Networking Events: The “Necessary Evil”

Whether you’re looking for a job or finding new business, it will most likely come from your network –  not a resume pool or a cold call. If you’re looking for growth in any area, having well-honed networking skills is critical.

Instead of feeling like you have to bother with networking, be excited that you are in a field where people skills matter.

Remember… It’s not always what you know, but who you know that matters.

Seek Growth

By attending these networking events, you can expect growth in some form. This can include growth in profile, confidence, connections, business, etc.  Regardless of what your intentions are going into a networking event, you can seek and even expect growth.

bother with networking

HINT: Don’t Go For The Speaker

Whatever networking event you decide to attend, do not go just for the speaker.  It’s possible for a networking event to be successful for you even if you get nothing out of the speaker’s presentation.

One of the chief reasons I am a part of membership associations and organizations is simply to network. They could have the most spectacular speakers or the most boring of events, it doesn’t matter.  What matters most to me are the people that attend and the connections I make.

10 Reasons Why You Should Bother With Networking

#1 Make 6-12 Sales Calls in a 2-Hour Period

Sales calls are daunting for most of us, especially financial types.  Networking events provide the opportunity for you to knock out the equivalent of 6-12 sales calls in one short period.  Let’s face it, meeting someone face-to-face is totally different (and better) than picking up the phone and calling someone.

When you attend a luncheon or a breakfast, try to walk in with the expectation of getting work done. So many inexperienced business people fail to recognize that a networking event is simply a playing field where you can make your sales calls. Within that 2-hour period, you are able to meet with at least 6-12 people.

As an income producer in your company, utilize this opportunity to convert cold sales to warm or hot. Long gone is the tactic of just collecting business cards and not doing anything with them.

#2 Being There Gives You The Advantage

Being at a particular event may spur someone to give you an opportunity they would otherwise give to someone else.

Last week at a networking event, I found myself connecting a client of mine to someone else simply because she was at the luncheon. Previously, I was going to call her superior. Instead, she gained a hot lead and potential client by just being at this event.

Don’t be the person sitting at their desk suffering from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) instead of making connections.  You’ll never know what leads you may have missed out on if you don’t go.

#3 Confirm Your Assumptions About The Market

As a business owner or the financial leader of a company, you must stay ahead of your market. Since there is no magic genie that can predict the future for you, you have to make assumptions.

It’s not news that the oil & gas industry is not doing so hot.  As a business owner whose clients are impacted by this downturn, as an investor, as a native Houstonian, this matters to me.  I have to make assumptions about how long it’s going to last, what sort of impact it will have, how it will influence client behavior, etc.

Networking events are a great way to confirm your assumptions about the market.  Go in with your assumptions in mind. Start to listen before you speak.  There are a few questions that I ask at these types of events:

  • How’s business?
  • What are your thoughts on [insert market]?

People have the habit of talking about more than what you asked.  Take that knowledge and confirm or adjust your assumptions.  You know your assumptions are sound when you start to hear the same thing from people in different markets and industries.

#4 Identify Trends That Could Impact Your Company

bother with networkingIn addition to confirming your assumptions, start to identify trends that could potentially impact your company.  At any given event, it’s a safe bet that all those represented are working in a particular industry or market (middle market, oil & gas servicing, etc.) OR have the same purpose (turnaround, corporate growth, etc.).

#5 Polish Up Your People Skills

Some folks naturally have great people skills. They can charm the pants off even the worst of people! But some of us need to polish up our people skills.

Some of the most important people skills that any successful leader needs to have include:

The five characteristics are focused on one’s ability to be able to cultivate human relationships – professional or otherwise. By polishing up your people skills and further developing the skills listed above, you will be more successful in your professional and personal relationships.

If you’re an introvert (or a curious extrovert) and find yourself struggling to polish up your people skills, download your free Networking for Introverts guide here. 

#6 Connect with Connectors

bother with networkingConnectors love to network and connect people!  Networking events are their playground.  Not only do these “connectors” like to put two people together, but they see it as a challenge.  The more people they can connect together, the more their success meter goes up.

You don’t necessarily have to be a connector. But in order to successfully cultivate your network and make more sales, you have to connect with connectors. Think about it this way, any cable or cord is essentially useless unless it is connected to something. Put yourself out there and the connectors will naturally make the connections.

#7 Even If You Don’t Realize It, You’re in Sales

We often talk about how financial leaders and CFOs should see their position not as simply an overhead function but as an income producing function. In addition to your role’s function being different, it’s important to realize that you are in sales.

What do I mean by that?  Well, you have to sell ideas and initiatives to your key management team, Board, and your employees. As a financial leader, you are also responsible for selling your company to bankers, vendors/suppliers, and customers.  In order to truly elevate your role, you must add value to your company.  One of the ways you do that is by selling both internally and externally.  Networking helps you hone those skills and build valuable connections.

#8 Make New Friends

Not only are you feathering your professional nest by attending networking events, but you’re connecting with like-minded people and will have a friendly face for next time.  It’s highly unlikely that you are the only uncomfortable person in the room.  Seek out others who share your apprehension and strike up a conversation.  Chances are that when they need someone who does what you do, they’ll be more comfortable calling you rather than the “pushy salesperson”.

There are countless organizations that you can join that have monthly, quarterly, and/or bi-annual events that you can attend. Some of those that I have been a part of over the past 25 years include:

  • Turnaround Management Association (TMA)
  • Texas Society of CPAs (TSCPA)
  • Association for Corporate Growth (ACG)

Find your local chapter of any organization that you find would be beneficial for you. Continue to attend those meetings, and soon enough, you’ll find yourself with a group of friends.

WARNING: it’s easy to fall into a habit of only talking to the same people. Try to talk to 3 new people for every 1 friend you catch up with. This will continue to grow and cultivate your network.

#9 Get Free Advice

People naturally love to feel like their advice is valued, especially when they see themselves as your mentor. That’s the wonderful thing about networking events! You get free advice on literally anything from how to structure your financials to how to react to market fluctuations to where you should be eating lunch.

#10 If You Don’t Go, Your Toughest Competitor May Be Sitting In Your Seat

Similar to reason #2 on why you should bother with networking, if you don’t go to a networking event, your toughest competitor may be sitting in your seat.

It’s an unusual occurrence for me not to see a competitor at a breakfast or luncheon. This is probably one of the most important reasons why you should bother with networking. Your competitor, simply through them being present, can gain a competitive advantage over you.

Take your seat in the next luncheon. Sip your drink. Get talking. And start building your networking and your business. Remember… there is value in networking!

Need guidance in networking? Download your free Networking for Introverts guide and start building your network today. 

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Networking Lessons from a Green Beret

networkingMany of us struggle with the notion of networking.  We know we should do it, but how do you fit it in with everything else going on?  Given that the benefits of networking are often not seen until months or years later, it’s easy to put it at the bottom of the “to-do” list.

Networking Lessons from a Green Beret

I recently read an article about the power of networking written by Josh Wathen, a former Green Beret who is successfully undertaking the transition from battlefield to boardroom. I first came to know Josh through our office manager, Saundra, who is his proud mom. In the article, Josh describes his sometimes difficult journey from elite soldier to multi-tasking entrepreneur and student. What does Josh credit as the key to his successful transition?  Networking.  Here’s an excerpt from the article:

I learned how to network and used my Special Forces groups on LinkedIn to find and acquire my Territory Manager position with Rand Brands. I applied to the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship (WCE) and began the educational experience that challenges and consumes me today.

Click here to read the rest of Josh’s story.

Josh’s article illustrates how important building and maintaining a network can be.  In his case, the network he formerly relied upon to save his life became the means by which he changed it.  Not everyone has such a powerful network, but we all have groups and individuals that we look to for personal and professional support and guidance.  Take time to develop those relationships.  They may just change your life one day.

Click here for more Networking Tips. Need guidance in networking? Download your free Networking for Introverts guide and start building your network today. 

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WFE Duck Hunt

WFE Duck Hunt

Courtney Scheaffer of Stibbs & Co., Bethany Brothers of Amegy Bank, Laura Koch and Michelle Garrison of SCFO, Kim Culpepper of Marsh & McLennan Agency and Deborah Barron of Achilles Group

Recently, I attended the Women’s Finanance Exchange Duck Hunt at the Junior League of Houston.  The event benefits Dress for Success. Dress for Success is a wonderful organization whose mission is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.

WFE Duck Hunt

More than just a fashion show, the 18th annual WFE Houston Duck Hunt drew a crowd of almost 90 members and guests who gathered at the Junior League for glimpse of fall clothing styles from Kelly Flores-New and to hear the latest trends.  After the style show, we spent time “hunting” for good deals among the clothes that were modeled.   Attendees contributed over $1600 in donations along with 25 suits and many handbags and pairs of shoes to Dress for Success!

Click here for a link to a slide show of the event featuring some fabulous photos taken by Roan Matthews with CrackedFox photography and design.

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Business Driver Example

See Also:
Business Drivers
Planning Your Exit Strategy
Selling Your Business to a Private Equity Group
Leadership Action Plan

Business Driver Example

Look at the following business driver example. Dan is the owner of a startup web development firm. He has done his initial research, written a business plan, and is prepared for the operations of his business. Now, Dan needs to understand the business drivers of software development. Understanding the business drivers can give an owner a better overall understanding of their company. In other words, the more knowledgeable an owner is about the inner workings of his/her company, the more successful his company has the capability to be.

To do this, Dan begins by finding all the reading materials he can. He studies technologies, operations, human resources, and most importantly marketing and sales. Dan is attempting to discover the business drivers for enterprise architecture. He is on the path to achieving this goal.

Meet With Experts

Next, Dan attempts to meet experts in the industry. He starts with those who are close to him: family, friends, and college acquaintances. Then, he begins to find and attend networking events related to his industry. In these places Dan will flush out those who truly know about the business drivers in software development.

Dan has found information as well as experts in both operations and marketing. Now, Dan must find experts in financing his firm. He attends banker’s organizations, venture capital networking events, and his local angel investors conference. Dan, due to the assets he holds, has settled on a bank loan as his method of financing.

Conclusion

In conclusion of this business driver example, Dan’s future seems bright as he paves the way for his success. By constantly studying the business drivers, software development success is only a matter of time. He prepares for the future, resolves to save cash as best he can, and aligns his thoughts for his future.

If you want to find out more about how you could utilize your unit economics to add more value to your organization, then click here to download the Know Your Economics Worksheet.

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The Power of Connections

AmandaStibbsco.

Laura Koch (SCFO) and Courtney Sheaffer (Stibbs & Co.)

We had a great time catching up with our friends at Stibbs & Co. at lunch last week. The power of connections is huge, and it is amazing how many ways you can help one another. Just by having a quick lunch, Courtney Sheaffer and I reconnected and shared connections that might help the other. In business, reconnecting periodically is more than building a personal relationship. It strengthens business ties and helps keep the other in mind while meeting new people. After all, word of mouth is still one of the strongest ways to meet people who are great at what they do.

I would like to introduce my network to one of Stibbs & Co.’s new attorneys, Courtney Sheaffer (pictured above on the right).  Even though we are in different industries, we both benefit greatly from our relationship. I can recommend her and Stibbs & Co. for the following:

The Power of Connections

Remember to keep in mind the importance of building your trusted network of people from other occupations. As your network grows, you can cross-connect and refer individuals that you have a strong relationship with. It was a past client that reconnected Courtney and I, so I wanted to bring this up to our Strategic CFO community!

Need guidance in networking? Download your free Networking for Introverts guide and start building your network today.

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