Seriously Improve Your Networking Skills with 5 steps

No matter what profession you’re in, networking is the fuel that accelerates success. Not only is it useful for learning directly from individuals you meet, but the benefits of association and growing your own authority are just as powerful.

Related: How to Start a Conversation With Strangers at a Networking Event

For some of us, the word networking can leave a bad taste in our mouths. Many of us aren’t sure where to start, what to say when we connect with someone or how to maintain that relationship. Although I truly believe there’s an art and science to networking and building authentic relationships, I’m going to distill what I’ve learned over the past few years. So, here is my no-BS guide to networking.

Stage 1: Mindset

Before you think about networking, remove the word “working” from your system. We hear people talking about putting on their “networking game,” and I can’t help but wonder how many showers they’ll need to take afterward to rid themselves of the inauthenticity. It’s likely that the people you’re trying to reach get approached by dozens, if not hundreds, of people just like you; and it’s not difficult for them to weed out the people who are “putting on a face.”

The best networking comes from genuine relationships, not a business card exchange. No matter whom you’re trying to build a relationship with, treating that person as a friend rather than a business contact will take you much further with the relationship. So, think about how you would approach a potential friend. Find something you have in common with, keep it light, make jokes, and above all, show that you care.

Stage 2: The destination

Doing something for the sake of doing it is rarely a good idea, nor is it a good use of your time. It’s the old analogy of having a fully gassed car without a final destination to head toward.

As many of you may already know, I’m a big believer in goal setting and focusing on pouring energy into accomplishing the stated goal. What is your dream job? How do you envision your future? What do you need to be doing to be the most fulfilled, happy and driven version of you? Write down what your goal is for five years from now. Then write down what goal you need to hit one year from now in order to get you closer to your five-year goal. Finally, write down what goal you need to hit 90 days from now in order to get you closer to your one-year goal.

For example: Let’s say your goal is to make $1 million in five years. You would need a vehicle, whether that is your own business, investments or something financially viable to get you to your destination. In this case, your goal one year from now might be to have your business launched and to hit $5,000 per month in sales.

So, what would you need to do in the next 90 days in order to hit $5,000 per month in your new business, one year from now? It might be finding the right partner with a complementary skill sets, or acquiring your first paying customer in the next 90 days.

5-year goal: Make $1 million
1-year goal: Hit $5,000/month ($60,000 per year) in sales with new business
90-day goal: Get your first paying customer

Now, it’s time to write down your goals. Yes, physically write them!

Stage 3: The map

Now that you have your final destination for five years from now, including focused, short-term goals to get you there, design your map. Keith Ferrazzi has a powerful strategy called the Networking Action Plan (NAP), which he explains in Never Eat Alone, to connect your networking strategy with your goals.

Step 1 is to write down your goals and final destination (which you completed in Stage 2). Step 2 is to look at the three goals you have written down. Then, next to each of your goals, write down three people who will either kickstart or accelerate your goal. These could be people you are already connected with, who are second-degree connections from you, or people you have no connections to.

Examples of who your top 3 could be include mentors or advisors, clients who will advocate for you, investors who believe in your vision, team members who may be co-founders or key hires, a boss or manager who could propel you to a raise or strategic position within your organization or superconnectors that will connect you with any of the above, to build your network.

If you’re looking to start a company, the three people could be a potential partner, an investor and a potential client. For a best-selling book, the three could be your agent, promotional partners or editor.

It’s important to invest some time doing thorough research to be confident that the three people are essential in helping you accomplish your goals faster.

Stage 4: Building a human connection

Hw do you foster a real connection when you speak with someone — whether it’s on Skype or on the phone or in-person? Personally, I think it boils down to these factors:

  • Ask insightful questions (to get the other person thinking). You can know a lot about a person by the quality of the questions he or she asks. Tony Robbins often shares that the quality of your questions correlates to the quality of your life.
  • Ask better questions, receive better answers. Peter Thiel challenges us to ask ourselves: “How do we accomplish our 10-year goals in six months?” By asking better questions when you’re speaking with someone, you not only put yourself in a category of someone that thinks differently, but you force the other person to think in a new way that helps him or her grow.
  • Pay attention (as if your life depended on it). This may come naturally for some people, or be extremely difficult for others. In our smartphone era, paying attention is a demanded “skill” many of us lack. How many times have you spoken with someone who is constantly fidgeting, looking around or interrupting your every sentence? By simplying maintaining eye contact, listening attentively and responding with relevant questions, you’re separating yourself from the rest of the pack and are well on your way to fostering a genuine relationship.

Listen. Ask good questions. Repeat.

Stage 5: Superconnecting

The fastest way to grow your own network is to introduce two people who can benefit from each another. As simple as this strategy sounds, it’s one you hardly see most people do. When’s the last time someone deliberately went out of his or her way to introduce you to someone after listening to your struggles? If you’re the rare breed that has experienced this, you’ve met a superconnector. 

With over three billion people online today, it’s increasingly difficult to separate the fog from the light, and the role of superconnectors will become increasingly important to make that distinction. Here are few of the most powerful ways to become a superconnector yourself.

  • Don’t keep score. This is by far the key difference between superconnectors and everyone else. Superconnectors have an abundance mentality, and they’re always willing to give, connect and share.
  • Make friends, not “contacts.” In other words, value quality over quantity. Put away your business cards, and form genuine friendships with people you meet. I force myself to never talk about business in the first encounter with someone, unless I have to. It’s 10 times more valuable to develop connections with five quality people at an event than 50 “contacts” whose names you won’t remember.
  • Connect other superconnectors. Do you know two connectors who could benefit from meeting? Have they already met? Introducing two superconnectors will be the easiest connection you make because: They are naturally friendly and most likely will have friends in common. And you’ll not only help others further their goals, but will come to mind for them, for future potential connections that will benefit you.
  • Interview people. This may be one of the fastest ways to grow your network, if done strategically. You could do this in the context of a research paper, book or, my personal favorite, a podcast. I’ve been fortunate enough to connect with the likes of Eric RiesAdam Braun, Jason Fried, Gary Vaynerchuk and others who would have been difficult to connect with had I not started #SKIM Live.
  • Follow-up. This is the missing step we all forget to do. But following up to see how the introduction went, or randomly following up a few months later with no agenda will not only help you maintain your connections, but foster the relationship to a different level. In a world of take take take, being able to show that you care about someone as a friend will put you in a whole different category with any of your connections.

Can you think of someone you need to follow up with right now?

29 Of The Most Creative Business Cards Ever

A good business card definitely won’t ensure your success, but it sure can help! It can make all the difference in the first impression that you have on someone, or whether or not you leave an impression at all, so here are 30 cleverly-designed business cards that will get you thinking about how you might want to present yourself!

Many of us are probably guilty of accepting business cards out of politeness and then just throwing them away or forgetting about them (I know I am). These cards, however, stay with you – psychologically or physically. Some have been cleverly designed to double as useful tools, product samples or funny little toys, while others manage to make a point about the person on the card that will stick more than just a name and an address.

With the emphasis placed on networking these days, it’s more important than ever to stand out of the crowd – and here are a few good ideas for how to do it!

1 | Cosmetic Surgeon Business Card


Advertising Agency: Demner, Merlicek & Bergmann, Vienna, Austria

2 | Yoga Trainer Business Cards


Advertising Agency: Marked for Trade

3 | Cheese Grater Business Card



Advertising Agency: JWT, Brazil

4 | Tearable Divorce Lawyer Business Card

creative-business-cards-5 creative-business-cards-6

Notice that the card has contact information on both sides.

5 | Yoga Mat Business Card


A simple, yet very creative business card for Vancouver yoga center. The card rolls just like a yoga mat.

6 | Fitness Trainer’s Tearable Business Card


Zohra Mouhetta helps you strip away your belly! (Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

7 | Designer’s Seed Packet Business Card



Designed by Jamie Wieck

8 | Circumciser’s Business Card


Advertising Agency: Agency: Healthy People by Grey, Istanbul, Turkey

9 | Event Photographer’s Viewfinder Business Card


10 | Dentist’s Cavity Business Card


Designed by Michael Häne & Remo Caminada

11 |  Stretchy Personal Trainer’s Business Card


If you want to see the text on this business card, you have to do a little stretching exercise.

12 | Hair Dresser Business Cards




Designed by Igor Perkusic

13 | Cigarette Filter Business Card




Advertising Agency: Bos, Toronto, Canada

14 | Buy/Sell Investment Representative Business Cards



Advertising Agency: Rethink, Canada

15 | Yoga Center Straw


Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, Shanghai, China

16 | Sommelière Wineglass Business Card



Designed by Caserne

17 | Your Own Personal Lego Agent



18 | Picture Frame Business Card


Advertising Agency: Piko, Moldova

19 | Stylish Transparency Business Card



Designed by Dario Monetini

20 | Makeup Business Card



Advertising Agency: OpusMúltipla, Curitiba, Brazil

21 | Toy Chair Business Card



Advertising Agency: DDB, Brazil

22 | Miniature Plumber’s Plunger With Contact Information


Designed by Indelible Design

23 | Seed Packet Business Card


Advertising Agency: Struck, USA

24 | Bike Multi-Tool Business Card



Designer: Rethink Canada

25 | Classic Rock Theme Business Card


26 | Transformable Cargo Box Business Card


Advertising Agency: Y&R, São Paulo, Brazil

27 | Restaurant Salt Shaker Business Card


Designed by flux

28 | Tennis Business Card


Advertising Agency: Publicis, Brazil

29 |  Grillable Business Card




How To Run A News Site And Newspaper Using WordPress And Google Docs

By Lauren Rabaino on Jun. 17, 2011 – 10:08 AMComment

A former colleague of mine, William Davis, understands what a “web first” workflow is, and has made it happen through software at his newspaper in Maine.  The Bangor Daily News announced this week that it completed its full transition to open source blogging software, WordPress. And get this: The workflow integrates seamlessly with InDesign, meaning the paper now has one content management system for both its web and print operations. And if you’re auspicious enough, you can do it too — he’s open-sourced all the code!

The video embedded above is a screencast from Davis, which outlines the new editorial workflow.

A truly web-first workflow

  1. Reporters and editors compose all stories in Google Docs. Using labels and native commenting, the stories get sent through the editing process.
  2. When a story is ready to publish, it gets sent from Google Docs to WordPress with one click.
  3. In WordPress, editors can publish the story to the web, then set up a print headline and print subhead.
  4. The story then appears in inDesign, where print designers can lay out the print newspaper.

“WordPress drives both our website and our print edition — you can’t put an article into the print edition of the paper unless it’s been put into WordPress,” Davis, the online editor of The Bangor Daily News, said.

No more copying and pasting, hallelujah!

Prior to implementing the new system, The BDN was using an ATEX system called Dewarview for print and a proprietary Web CMS called Creative Circle.

“We would have to copy and paste from Dewarview to Creative Circle, and our bureau reporters didn’t have access to Dewarview so they would have to e-mail their stories in,” Davis said of the clunky, disconnected workflow.

It’s basically free

Rather than having to pay a licensing fee to a company that runs your content management system, what The BDN has set up is essentially free to run. Of course, there were upfront costs involved withpaying freelancers to help write the plugins, and each month the website has to pay hosting fees, but the rest of the tools they use are free for everyone. WordPress is open source software that anyone can download and use. Google Docs is also a free product if your organization is small enough.

You can do it, too!

The beauty of open source is that everyone can contribute freely to the source code, making it that much more stronger and useful. Because Davis understands this, he’s open-sourced all of the software he used to build the new system and documented most of the other processes involved (liketransferring archives, for example). The only real hurdle goes beyond technology — you’ll have to get your whole newsroom to adopt the process.

“A lot of what took us so long to roll this out has been because of the complexity of the site, not the complexity of the setup. We started using the system in September and slowly moved over desks until they were all on Google Docs,” Davis said. “What was really time-consuming was rebuilding our site, which is incredibly expansive and has a lot of moving parts. We’re open-sourcing most of our work, so I really think it’d be pretty simple for another paper to adopt the same workflow.”

Davis said that for him, adoption was mostly pain-free.

“The reporters here understand what we’re trying to do and why it’s important to get the news out as quickly as possible,” he said.

Ready to get started?

If you want to take a stab at your own similar setup, here’s the baseline set of plugins to install:

  • The Zoninator, which allows you to order content on your website by hand instead of chronologically.
  • Edit Flow, which allows you to manage your workflow within WordPress through custom roles, statuses, and a ton of other features.
  • Co-Authors Plus, which allows you to set multiple authors per post.
  • Media Credit, which allows you to natively set the credit for images, instead of including the information in cutlines.
  • CP Redirect, which allows you to remap URLs from your old site.
  • XML import, for importing your archives into WordPress.
  • Docs to WordPress, which allows you to send your Google Docs to WordPress.

Correction: An earlier version of this post said that advertising was integrated into the web system. In fact, that process is still in the works.

Full disclosure: As I mentioned at the start of this post, William Davis is a former colleague of mine from CoPress, where we worked together virtually in college to help transition college newspapers to open source software.

Steal Their Style: 7 Retail Brands Bringing Life To Their Digital Marketing

Digital innovators are changing the face of marketing for fashion retail brands. Be it using Twitter to tell a story or crowdsourcing content on Instagram, more brands are shifting their focus toward integrated marketing campaigns that allow them to generate buzz around new products and strut their stuff – both offline and online. Social media presents marketers with a unique opportunity to connect with their target audience, build a consistent brand image across channels, and generate more sales.

With 70% of marketers planning to allocate more budget to digital, social media advertising in particular, it’s time to start thinking innovation and integration to make your campaigns count and messages last forever. Take inspiration from these seven fashion brands blazing the trail for unique and innovative digital marketing campaigns, and use integration to breathe life into your own marketing campaigns.


At the forefront of social media innovation is sport brand Adidas, who constantly hit the right note with their campaigns. From lucrative sponsorship deals with sport stars that give Adidas the unique opportunity to connect sportspeople to their fans (as demonstrated by their use of the new Twitter DMs function) to an all-star World Cup campaign, Adidas are the front-runners in fashion on social media.

For their FIFA World Cup 2014 campaign, Adidas created a number of YouTube videos in collaboration with well-known football players such as David Beckham, Lionel Messi, and Pablo Armero to air throughout the tournament. Tweeting in several languages to engage with as many Twitter users as possible about different events during the games and created real-time visuals based on matches for their social channels. This was supported by the ‘All In Or Nothing’ commercials, that aimed to engage viewers by asking them to choose whether they were #AllIn or they give nothing. All this social media activity helped them achieve serious social growth. Adidas were the most talked about brand on social media during the World Cup, featuring in 1.59 million conversations, and they enjoyed a 5.2 million increase in followers across their social media channels. Even better, #AllIn was mentioned 917,000 times, making their campaign hashtag the most used brand hashtag on Twitter during the World Cup.

Key takeaway: The three pronged success formula; use a of a unique hashtag, combine it with real-time marketing, and captivating visuals to maximize engagement on your social media campaigns.


British fashion retailer Topshop used social media to tie their offline/online efforts together during their fashion week campaigns, and with #AW15 London Fashion Week nearly over, they’ve certainly had some tricks up their sleeves to drive sales using Twitter. This isn’t the first time Topshop have created a front row experience for online shoppers and their social media audience. Topshop have been leading the way in digital innovation around fashion week since 2012, when they set up a live-stream of their catwalk show, enabling viewers to create a customizable catwalk selecting snippets of the catwalk they enjoyed, and share their favorite outfits in real-time on Facebook. They could also install an iTunes plug-in that let users download music straight from the catwalk.

Last year, Topshop invited customers to showcase their own looks on Instagram using the hashtag#TopshopWindow. All of these images were gathered together to be displayed on a triple-screen installation located in the window of Topshop’s flagship Oxford Circus store. All the photos combined created a fully interactive digital mosaic of aspiring fashionistas and was described as the ‘world’s first fashion show created by Instagram imagery’. An impressive use of user-generated content as part of a wider marketing strategy centred around London Fashion Week. Hats off to Topshop.

Key takeaway: Consider social media your inspiration for new and innovative ways to showcase your products.

Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs master social media by turning Tweets into currency, with campaigns that focus on driving footfall into their stores and pop-up shops. The #MJDaisyChain campaign saw the brand open a pop-up shop in London, where they created buzz for their Daisy fragrance. People could claim free deluxe samples of the Daisy perfume in exchange for Tweets using the hashtag, additionally the brand offered Twitter users a chance to win highly sought-after Marc Jacobs bags and jewelry for posting the most inspiring photos on Twitter with their unique hashtag. The real-time aspect of the campaign led to high volumes of people visiting the pop-up store, generating loads of buzz, and the brand achieved peak levels of organic reach.

Key takeaway: Generate positive buzz on social and increase the organic reach of a campaign by offering prizes and incentives in exchange for Tweets/posts.


Burberry have a strong presence on social media and a firm affinity with Twitter marketing after allowing fashionistas to purchase items hot off the catwalk last September at London Fashion Week. Burberry commanded an 8% share of voice at last year’s #SS15 London Fashion Week, with over 8,000 Tweets sent about the brand – making Burberry the number one brand on Twitter during fashion week. Burberry uses social media to boost brand value and buzz around their Fashion Week collections.

Burberry’s team are seasoned professionals at creating campaigns that resonate with their audience. As part of a digital drive to highlight their expanding make-up collection, Burberry launched the ‘Burberry Kisses’ campaign, in collaboration with Google. Find out more about the tech behind the campaign here. Not only did the project require a dedicated subdomain, but Burberry extended the online campaign into offline territory by branding the US shop windows to match the ‘Kisses’ campaign theme.

Key takeaway: Make sure your campaign messages resonate with your audience by reaching them everywhere – marry up offline and online channels for a truly integrated campaign.


Global brand Gap understand the power of a good bargain. Though arguably one of the most recognizable fashion brands in the world, Gap enticed even more customers by teaming up with Groupon to create an irresistible deal: $50 worth of Gap apparel for $25. Gap used social media channels such as Foursquare to promote these deals and offers to new customers, and from this campaign alone 441,000 groupons were sold – bringing in profit of around$11 million. Gap’s Senior Director of Media cited their use of sites like Groupon and social media as a way of reaching new customers, and trying “to reach them in ways that are part of their everyday so that it becomes like a conversation.”

Key takeaway: Be where your audiences are, reach new audiences with different channels and provide incentives and discounts to further entice customers.


Classic, iconic, and oh-so-stylish, Dior uses social media to tell a story that builds excitement around their TV spots. Charlize Theron is the golden girl for the J’Adore perfume commercials, and the latest social media campaign is based around Natalie Portman as a runaway bride for #ItsMissActually. Dior differ from other brands in that they use social media as part of wider campaigns to tell stories about their vision for the brand and engage their customer’s imaginations. With over 5.5 million Twitter followers and counting, this storytelling strategy is clearly working for them.

Key takeaway: Build a personality for your brand and use social media to tell your brand’s story.

Michael Kors

Named the top fashion brand on social back in 2013 for achieving a boost of 7 million new followers with Instagram, is any list of great fashion brands on social complete without Michael Kors? Michael Kors use social media to spread their brand vision across the globe, with campaigns such as #JetSetSelma which set out to encourage user-generated content and unite fans of the Selma bag across both online and offline.

Another great example of MK encouraging user-generated content on social media is their #WhatsInYourKorscampaign, which stretched across Twitter and Instagram, asking followers and fans to upload photos of what they’re carrying around in their beloved handbags. The brand followed up with the initial #WhatsInYourKors campaign, which began in 2013, by continuing to use the hashtag alongside style tips and advice. A clever way to recycle a unique hashtag for a long-term social media campaign.

Key takeaway: Encourage your audience to share content based around your brand values to foster engagement and reinforce those values.