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Cathy Jennings
Central Pennsylvania, US
I'm on a mission to rid the world of boring, salesy, ineffective networking! I share tips, strategies and resources to help make your networking more fun and more profitable -- without all the pressure!
Interests: hiking, scrapbooking, traveling, laughing at my two dogs as they play outside; I love to meet new people and learn about "their stories." I also love reading and enjoying great foods from around the world!
Recent Activity
Amen, Sister! I believe that serious, committed business owners will invest in their success. That is sometimes a hundred bucks and sometimes a few thousand. I believe people who are status hungry or starstruck or deluded will pay ridiculous prices for services that unfortunately, are seldom worth it. I've had experience with both types of experts -- those who price their services high for no apparent reason other than "popularity" and those who price them appropriately for their expertise. I've had great disappointment from those who "overpriced" themselves and their ego and GREAT RESULTS from those who value their services, but aren't ridiculous in their pricing. Those with REAL integrity can charge higher prices, but will always give HUGE value for what they charge. Examples -- Nancy Marmolejo, Denise Wakeman, Mari Smith. Great ladies, great services and programs at appropriate prices. Keep it real, Sandra! Cathy
Africa -- natural interaction is exactly what I promote! I'm so tired of the "networking robots" I meet at events and mixers. Some business people are just afraid to be human -- I say, be a person! Thanks for stopping by! Cathy
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Social networking sites like LinkedIn are great for increasing your ability to be found by your potential customers and clients. But, are you the best kept secret on LinkedIn? If so, let's change that! There are simple ways to optimize your Linkedin profile to make it easier for people searching for you and your products and services to find you. And, no, you don't have to be a computer or technical genius to do it! Thanks to Mike Volpe at HubSpot for creating this short, easy-to-follow video that shows you exactly how to make the most of 2 search-engine-friendly-features of LinkedIn profiles. Don't pass up this simple way to increase your Google rankings and traffic to your LinkedIn profile. In five minutes you can watch the video and update your profile. Isn't better marketing of your products and services and increased traffic worth 5 minutes of your time? Do you... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2010 at No Pressure Networking
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If you want to know how to use social media to your business advantage, I've got the book for you: Social Media 101: Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online by Chris Brogan This is not a lengthy, academic treatment of the theory and philosophy behind social media. This is an easy-to-read, quick-to-implement smorgasbord of the best social media strategies, tools, and information written with wit and practicality. I've been reading Chris Brogan's blog for years now. He's bright, insightful and extremely generous with his knowledge and connections. He continues to deliver excellent content in his latest book -- 300+ pages of tips, strategies and great ideas for using social media for business. I'm a huge fan of this tips-style book -- each chapter is a very brief, but detailed-enough discussion of one particular idea -- just enough to inform you so that you can get started (or at... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2010 at No Pressure Networking
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Finding the right networking groups to join can sometimes feel like a search for buried treasure -- without the map. Sometimes there are just too many to choose from and sometimes the "good ones" are the best kept secrets in town. Whatever situation you find yourself in, here is an easy way to find some of the best groups to join. Ask Your Clients. Think of who your favorite clients are -- who do you really enjoy working with? Write down a list of your top 10. Now, give each of your favorite clients a call or send them an email to ask them what organizations they belong to. (Be sure to give them some context for this question -- perhaps that you are taking some time to speak with your best clients to learn more about them, what's important to them, where other great people like them "hang out.")... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2010 at No Pressure Networking
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This one goes into the "don't ya hate it when . . ." file. I was recently invited to lunch by a person in one of my local networking groups. She told me that she wanted to learn more about my business and what it is that I do. So far so good. We met at a favorite restaurant of mine and immediately found that we had a lot in common. It was an enjoyable conversation -- not particularly business-related, but definitely rapport-building. Then, it happened: The bait and switch routine. One minute we were laughing and sharing about our lives . . and then this person whips out a presentation kit and proceeds to deliver a 40 minute sales pitch. YUK! Now, I'm all for sharing about your business and educating people about what you do -- that was supposedly the reason for our lunch. But this person was... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2010 at No Pressure Networking
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Mar 15, 2010
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Think Twitter is just a silly fad? Think again. Twitter has become quite a powerful tool for business. If you doubt it, just ask Dell who claims to have made $3 million in revenue since 2007 directly from Twitter. Or Pepsi -- they opted OUT of their usual Superbowl ad in favor of using social media sites like Twitter for their marketing instead. One of the great "thrills" of using Twitter is being "ReTweeted." If you are one of the smart companies using Twitter for business, then you are probably already familiar with the concept of the "ReTweet." But, just to clarify -- once you post a "Tweet", then other Twitter users can pass along your Tweet (post) by "ReTweeting" it to other people. It works like forwarding an email to share something funny, useful or interesting to members of your network. Having your message, post or company services "ReTweeted"... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2010 at No Pressure Networking
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I'm always on the lookout for new resources about business networking -- I like to continually be learning about my chosen area of expertise, but I also like to be able to recommend good ones whenever I find them. One of the most common complaints I hear from business professionals about why they don't network is "I'm just too busy!" Well, I'm glad that business is booming! And -- let's keep it that way by learning some effective strategies for making the most of the networking you DO have time for. If you need a quick read with easy to implement ideas for how to make your networking event attendance yield better results, then pick up a copy of Bruce Brown's book "31 Days to Networking Event Mastery: Grow Your Business In Just One Month" Brown describes himself as "a serial entrepreneur with a chronic networking condition." (Love it!) He... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2010 at No Pressure Networking
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Question: You've just attended a networking event and now hold in your hand a bunch of business cards. Is it okay for you to simply add them to your mailing list or subscribe them to your newsletter? Answer: Only with express PERMISSION from your contact. This is one of my all time worst, "want-to-throw-a-tantrum-whenever-it-happens" personal pet peeves. (and I have red hair, so just imagine . . . ) Not only is this NOT permitted according to SPAM and direct marketing laws, it's just bad form altogether. It's like shoving junk mail into your neighbor's mailbox simply because they waved hello one morning. There is a concept called "permission-based marketing" -- that people have a choice who they receive marketing messages from by "opting in" via a form on a website, a written consent form/checkbox or verbal agreement. This first became a hot topic when consumers were able to stop... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2010 at No Pressure Networking
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When building a networking strategy, you must first start with your business goals. This provides the direction and the context for the networking choices you'll be making. So, what's next? Take a look at your personality style, communication preferences and strengths. No, you don't need to take a personality assessment or go see a therapist. (not that there's anything wrong with that) This is more of a self-evaluation task. Personality Are you an extrovert -- a "people person"? Or, are you more of a "quiet type" who dislikes crowds? Obviously, if large groups and events aren't your thing, then big mixers and conferences may not be your best networking venues. On the other hand, if you enjoy getting together with lots of people face-to-face, then certain online strategies may not work best for you. Communication Preferences How do you like to communicate with others? Do you prefer to talk by... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2010 at No Pressure Networking
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This one is for the "socially curious" (thank you, Inc. for that term) -- those of you who are small business owners, entrepreneurs and service professionals who feel that they are too busy to get involved with social media, but can't help feeling like you are "missing out" on some great opportunities. Does that describe you? Whether you're "curious" or simply looking for additional ways to leverage the power of social media for your business, there is a great article on Inc.today that shares 30 different tips about social media usage. Tips include: finding customers, reaching new markets, customer service, connecting with potential partners and more. One of the most important tips, though is #25 -- "Don't promote too aggressively." I see this a lot on Facebook and Twitter where someone will connect with me and then immediately launch into sales pitches and ads for their products and services. This... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2010 at No Pressure Networking
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Welcome to a new year of new opportunities! How will you make the most of all that 2010 has to offer? If you're smart, and I know you are (you're reading this blog, aren't you?), then you'll be using networking to market your business this year. Whether it's face to face networking or online networking using social media sites, you'll need a strategy in order to be effective. After all, networking is a marketing tool and you wouldn't just start using random marketing strategies without a plan, would you? (Of course not! You're smart -- see above) So, how do you create a networking strategy? First, you start with your business goals. This is where most people make their biggest mistakes in networking -- they simply attend events and join groups without taking into consideration what their overall business goals are. This is like going to Lowe's or Home Depot... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2010 at No Pressure Networking
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When you attend a business referral group such as BNI, LeTip or Leads, do you walk in with your hands outstretched and palms up expecting to "get" referrals from other members of the group? Of course you do! No one joins a referral group just for the sheer pleasure of being able to give business opportunities to others without ever receiving anything in return. Referral groups abound in cities across the world. They are often exclusive groups which sometimes cost hundreds of dollars to join and require weekly commitments of 2 hours or more. Some folks find that these types of groups provide them with enough referrals to warrant the time, money and effort they spend on that particular group's activities. Others complain that they never receive any "good referrals" and often quit in frustration. Although a lot of the success of any particular group is dependent upon the leadership... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2009 at No Pressure Networking
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Cards, cards everywhere! 'Tis the season for holiday cards! Getting a real, live card in the mail is a wonderful thing, right? I mean, who doesn't love to open up a funny or thoughtful card from a friend, family member or business associate? But, when you get a bunch of them all at the same time, sometimes a card simply gets lost in all the hustle and bustle of one of the busiest times of the year. So, if you want your "holiday greetings" to stand out, choose a different holiday to send your cards. No, I don't mean that you should send your Christmas cards on The Fourth of July. Instead, Adopt a Holiday. Adopt a holiday as your own, special time of year to send greeting cards to all of your contacts. Send a Halloween Card, a Saint Patrick's Day Card or Number 2 Pencil Day Card. You... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2009 at No Pressure Networking
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You've attended a business mixer, trade show or other type of networking event. You've exchanged cards with numerous folks and even had a few good conversations as well. Now what? Do you file their card on your desk somewhere -- meaning to give them a call sometime? (ah, yes, the "good intentions" pile . . . ) Do you go one step further and add their info to your Outlook or other contact management system? Do you immediately add them to your email newsletter list? (I hope not! Remember -- get their permission before contacting them in any way) Timing is everything. It can be the difference between making a real connection with someone or just becoming a faceless name in someone's database. Which would you prefer? I've seen the full spectrum of follow-up recommendations -- anything from sending a note 5 minutes after leaving the event to sometime within... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2009 at No Pressure Networking
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LinkedIn has been touted as a great place to find job openings. Is this really the case? Or, is LinkedIn just a "desert of joblessness" where the unemployed go to commiserate? Take a look at this video . . . I personally am just starting to use LinkedIn, so, the jury is still out for me. Regardless, I had to chuckle at this video. My favorite moments -- that seriously made me laugh out loud: "LinkedIn combines the 'linkiness' of Facebook with the 'jobiness' of Monster.com." "Let me tell you about my 12 DVD Employability Maximizing Seminar that will give your resume the Resu-Momentum to out-jobify the competition." What do you think? What is the value of LinkedIn for you? Share your success (or lack thereof) with us in the comments below. Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2009 at No Pressure Networking
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Most people spend more time thinking about the shoes they will wear to a networking event than what they will say when they get there. Seriously. Have you ever really listened to how people introduce themselves and their company? (Or, for that matter, how YOU introduce yourself?) Or, are you too busy mentally nodding off because of how B-O-R-I-N-G they can be? What if the words and phrases you used in your "30 second introduction" meant the difference between getting business or losing it? Well, there's no "IF" about it -- how you introduce yourself in the first 30 seconds of meeting someone -- heck, more like 7-10 seconds -- will make all the difference in the world when it comes to getting business or driving it away. How do you craft an introduction that actually gets the response: “I Have THAT Problem, I Want THAT Solution and THOSE Results!”... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2009 at No Pressure Networking
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Stop what you are doing and take a look at your desk. Are there books, files, clippings, random pieces of paper and post-it reminders? Good! No, I'm not going to admonish you for having a messy workspace. Instead, I want you to use your "clutter" to connect with members of your network. See if you can find any of the following items on your desk: a book or two that you've recently read an invitation to an event -- that you need to respond to a magazine or newspaper article you've kept a newsletter you found interesting a quote or favorite saying somewhere in the mix a flyer about an upcoming workshop or seminar you'd like to attend an ad for a new restaurant in town -- that you'd like to try the url (internet address) for a website that has great info Although the professional organizers will most likely... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2009 at No Pressure Networking
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Today is a good day to say "Thank-You." Actually, EVERY day is a good day to say "thank-you," but November 11th 2009 is special. Why? Liz Lynch, author of Smart Networking, has deemed 11/11/09 as "Network Appreciation Day." Now, there are a lot of silly and pointless made-up holidays out there (if you want proof, check out this site of crazy, bizzare and sometimes useful holidays.) However, I think Liz is right on the money with creating this one. In her November 4th post, she explains the purpose of Network Appreciation Day: "Who in your network has made a significant impact on your life this year? Helped you make it through a tough period? Gave you critical advice that changed your trajectory? Introduced you to exactly whom you needed to meet? Partnered with you on a key project? Or just simply brightened your day at the right moment... Let's celebrate... Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2009 at No Pressure Networking
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Making sales is a good thing. Getting more clients is a good thing. Telling others about your products and services is also a good thing. Overtly selling at a networking event is NOT a good thing. (Imagine Martha Stewart shaking her finger at you menacingly) Yet, we see it and experience it all the time, right? People trying to "make the sale" or persuade us to buy something only seconds after introducing themselves to us. Ugh! When will we learn? When you try to sell at a networking event or group, you are essentially scaring away your potential clients. People at networking events do NOT want to be sold to. They do NOT want to hear sales pitches and they do NOT want to feel pressured to buy something from you. Networking is about establishing relationships, not selling. It is about making a connection with someone, getting to know about... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2009 at No Pressure Networking
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There's a question that all good networkers ask of those they meet: "How can I help you?" The first time I heard it, I was caught off guard and didn't quite know how to respond. I mean, really? You are interested in helping ME? Wow -- now that's a different approach to networking! I was so used to answering "So, what do you do?" -- preparing my 30 second commercial, being ready to talk about my business, how I can help others, etc. It never crossed my mind to be ready to answer the question of how someone else could help me. Keep in mind that your network is there to help you -- just as you are there to help the other members of your network when you can. So, to keep things flowing and to keep the give and take cycle moving, you do need to allow others... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2009 at No Pressure Networking
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Social Media fascinates me. I know just enough to get around (and occasionally get into trouble), but all the technology and tools intrigue me. I learn about something new every day through Twitter, Mashable or some other social media outlet. However, not everyone shares my fascination. Sometimes, people are just plain dazed and confused by it all. They don't see how it has anything to do with their "real life." I really enjoyed an explanation of social media by Niall Harbison on the Simply Zesty Blog: ". . . the tools we use very much mirror real life and that they just help us to communicate online. There are tribes of people online just like there are in real life, communities who talk to each other in certain ways. Cool people. Business people. People marketing themselves and people who just want to socialize and have fun." He goes on to... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2009 at No Pressure Networking
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You've decided to attend a local networking event and confidently enter the room, register and . . . suddenly feel rather overwhelmed at the prospect of having to start a conversation with all these people that you don't know. Add to that the fact that most people are already engaged in conversation in groups of two or three or four people. How do you "break in" to these conversations that are already underway without looking (and feeling) like a dork? This is the scenario -- a very common one -- that a new business contact of mine shared with me over coffee this week. The professional posing this question to me is a successful, well-liked, personable woman -- yet, she was struggling with the awkwardness that arises when this occurs. My advice? Ask for an introduction. Almost every event I've attended has a registration desk and most have greeters as... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2009 at No Pressure Networking