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Red Feather Networking
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Red Feather Networking

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It's time to learn how to network in a way that fits you! At Unleash Your Networking Mojo you'll develop a plan for networking in your own style. April 22nd in Cary at the Matthews House.  Register for the Cary session now! http://unleashcary.eventbrite.com
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We have all heard the saying, “it's never too late” and I agree with that wholeheartedly in most situations. When it comes to networking the mantra is “it's never too early!”

Imagine this – a new neighbor moves in and you have yet to meet them. The first time they knock on your door it is to ask you if you will cat sit while they go on vacation. WHAT? Who does that? Insane right? Uncomfortable? Awkward? To say the least!

If we stop thinking of networks as people we target for a specific purpose and start looking at it as a circle of people that you have for support – it tends to make the picture clearer. My “network” doesn't only hear from me when I need something important. How you keep in touch with your friends is similar to the way you should keep in touch with your network. When you see an article for something you know is of interest to someone – shoot them a quick “saw this and thought you would enjoy it” email. Going to be in a city where someone in your network lives – ask them to dinner. Planning a vacation some place you have never been – give everyone a shout out on Twitter or Facebook and ask for suggestions of places to eat or things to see. By building a circle of true relationships versus a list of people in your Rolodex who are “good to know” you are providing yourself with unlimited resources. Remember, not only are they now your network but THEIR network is also part of your network. It's a relationship that keeps on giving.

Red Feather Networking understands that everyone has their individual hangups regarding reaching out and making these connections and WE WANT TO HELP! Kelly and I provide one-on-one Coaching Sessions because we know that no matter how many books you read or how many people you talk to, your networking style is going to be as unique as your personality. Let us help you identify your barriers and develop a networking plan that is tailored to you, your style and your needs. Head on over http://www.redfeathernetworking.com and find your networking mojo!

Thanks for reading ~ Michele
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Red Feather Networking

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Behind the fireworks, the hot dogs, the heat, and the celebration of the American Independence Day, do you ever stop to think about the people who fought to make our country possible? Imagine the courage it must have taken to make that huge step of declaring oneself independent of a country. Knowing that there would be such a high cost and such a long fight to achieve that goal. Knowing that failure would result in death for any man who dared to sign that document declaring themselves a free nation. By contrast, my life is so easy.

Sometimes, it's all about perspective. On the days when I struggle through 2 hours of rush hour traffic to drive the 26 miles from work to my house, I tend to lose that perspective. When the laundry is piling up, the bills are waiting to be paid, and blog posts are waiting to be written, my perspective shrinks me down to a tiny little speck looking up at these insurmountable obstacles as if they were mountains.

On Independence Day, I remember. I understand that those mountains are simple small piles of sand that I can move with a child's plastic shovel. I realize that those obstacles that seem so large at the moment, are really the benefits of the choices I have made for my life. The choice to have a career and show up at a job where I am paid money. The privilege of owning a car and a house, and living where I choose to live. The ability to walk into a store and buy clothing that is ready to wear out to the dinner that someone else will cook, serve, and clean up for me. These things are not "rights". I'm not entitled to have these things because I live in America or am inherently a part of some privileged group, and they can all be taken away in an instant because of a pink slip at work or a myriad of other misfortunes that I am  unable to predict.

On this Independence Day, I ask you to think for a moment about your life and how everything you have is the result of a choice. I know it doesn't always feel that way — but it's true. You make choices – good, bad, ambivalent – every single day and your daily life is filled with the consequences of those choices. I urge you to resist the tendency to move through your life on autopilot, and start thinking about how every choice you make impacts your future.

In terms of networking, it's about that choice to say hello, to extend your attention and possibly your friendship to someone new. Turning off the judgmental filter that we carry with us and seeing that person for who they really are and how they impact the world around them.

Happy Independence Day!

~ Kelly
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A great vintage post from RFN's very own #Hashtag Addict!
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When I graduated high school in 1992, our commencement speaker read us a Dr. Seuss book. The message was, “You can do anything. Go forth and conquer the world.” And we did.  Those were the days when you graduated from college and everybody got a signing bonus and a relo package. Companies were fighting over the best graduates, and sometimes even the second or third best. It was easy to get a job, and you settled into adult life knowing that you’d change companies about every five years, rolling over your matched 401k contributions, and eventually retire to a house on the beach.

I don’t need to tell you that version of reality doesn’t exist for high school, or college graduates today. And 2012 commencement speeches are no longer readings of Dr. Seuss books.  In 2012, graduation is about finding a new, unblazed and unexplored path to success. This year’s commencement speeches contain some of the best advice I’ve heard not only for young graduates ready to conquer the world, but for those of us just trying to reimagine where we fit into the world.

A consistent message is coming through in these speeches. Go forth and help others through pursuing your passion. Do what matters in your heart and your soul. Don’t follow societal norms just because they are there. Find out what matters, and take action. Don’t be afraid to fail, because success is not guaranteed. And in fact, failure makes you a better person.

Interesting messages considering this particular audience didn’t keep score at their childhood soccer games because “everybody is a winner”.  One thing is certain, 2012 graduates belong to the most connected and networked generation to ever exist. They have built personal networks without even realizing they were doing it. It will interesting to see if those same relationship building and interacting skills will move over into their professional world and serve them well there.

Here are a few of the best 2012 commencement speeches I’ve heard so far. If you know of any other commencement speeches that have inspired you, please post them here. I’d love to hear them to. And congratulations to the class of 2012! I have high hope and expectations for all of you. Go forth and do good in the world. The world needs you.
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Have them in circles
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Red Feather Networking

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Find out what REALLY happened at Disney last week!
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Last Saturday I had the privilege of speaking to the women of Dress for Success of the Triangle’s Professional Women’s Group. They were learning how to network, some for the very first time. The participants of this program are stepping up and taking action to get jobs, build their careers and improve their worlds. I find that incredibly inspiring. There are so many women in this world at all economic levels who never realize that they have untapped potential – the potential to be something different or something more than they are right at this minute. The women I met on Saturday not only recognize their own potential, but they are acting to turn that potential into a tangible reality. I don’t have enough words to tell you how inspiring it was to hear about their successes.

It’s easy to put off networking when things are going well. In the course of our daily lives – work, family, hobbies – we don’t think about reaching out and maintaining relationships that our outside of our normal routines. But networking isn’t a rainy day activity. It’s something that you need to incorporate into your routine. And the benefit you get from having a strong network isn’t only valuable when you’re walking through a storm. It can bring you amazing benefits at anytime. In fact, learning how to network can help you achieve your dreams.

Imagine for a moment, all of the things that make you… well, you. Picture it floating around you like a cloud, your skills, knowledge, talents, connections, advice. You may even take a lot of these things for granted. Now, imagine everyone walking around with their own clouds containing all of the things that make them, them. When you don't know how to network, you pass each other by with no interaction and no chance to share all of those wonderful things that make you unique. Do you suddenly see all of the opportunity you’re missing? Opportunity to share your cloud with someone else. To combine your skills with their knowledge and create something great for you both. That is what networking is all about.

This is the heart of the message Michele and I hold dear. Networking is about making connections and opening the door to possibility. We’re here to help you understand not just the theory, but the mechanics of how to make this happen for you, in your own way. Our techniques make learning how to network so much easier. You don’t have to be an extrovert, you don’t have to have a ton of friends, you just have to take the first step and get started. Dream big – it’s worth it!
~Kelly
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Someone recently posted this saying on Facebook “Don’t grow up…it’s a trap” and my immediate thought in my head was “thank goodness I didn’t fall for that whole “growing up” thing”.  Not that I’m NOT a grown up.  Chronologically, I’m VERY grown up.  However, I’m not always grown up in my actions.  Am I immature?  Not in the least. I am a hard worker, I’m organized, and I’m responsible.  I present myself well in business meeting and can hold an adult conversation with the best of them.  However, I think as adults we often grow up and grow out of childlike qualities that are actually great qualities.

Have you ever stopped to really think about the growing up process? 
Here is what it looks like to me –

Infancy – We not only need but we enjoy and find comfort in allowing others to do things for us.  To help nurture us and to help us on our path to self-discovery.

Toddler – We are very satisfied with the basics of life…. Food…. Naps… Friends… Family… Love.  If someone makes us mad we tell them – then it’s over and we go back to playing.

Child – We take pride in our paintings and show them off to the world by hanging them on the fridge.  We like to sing and dance whenever there is music.  We giggle at what makes us happy and we cry at what makes us sad.

Then we “GROW UP” …

As adults we often see it as a negative to allow others to help us or to ask for help when we need it.  We think that if others view us as not fully independent and self sufficient then it is a flaw.  We look at food, sleep, friends, family and love as the necessities yet we are always in search of more.  We dance and sing only in appropriate settings and only if we feel secure about not being judged.  We often down play our accomplishments in order to not draw attention to ourselves.  We filter our feelings often not showing emotions until we are alone in our rooms.  We strive for perfection because anything less is considered inferior.

I am on a path of learning how to listen to my inner-child.  I am often found laughing too loudly when with my friends and family.   I can’t help but embrace the music often singing and dancing at inappropriate times. I smile for the entire world to see when I’m happy and don’t try to hide my tears from friends when I’m sad. I’ve learned that I can’t stop people from casting judgment.  They are going to do it no matter what I do – so I might as well be myself.  At the advice of a very wise woman, I’m learning to “dance with my imperfections” and I’m much happier for it.

Are you up for the challenge?  Are you ready to embrace your inner-child?   It may take practice but I promise you that the more you do it the easier it becomes.  So go ahead – post your artwork on the fridge and when your favorite song comes on – don’t look around –  just dance, dance, dance.
I would love to hear all about your child-like antics.  I might even share a few of my own.  Email me directly at redfeathernetworking@gmail.com, say hi on Twitter @chelelawson, connect with me on LinkedIn – Michele Lawson, or simply leave a comment to this post.

Thanks for reading ….
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I’m not the “hippie” type.  Please don’t send me hate mail if you are a hippie; some of my best friends are hippie types.  Not me.  I don’t eat tofu… I am not always “green”… I like my designer shoes and purses… I don’t go around making farfetched analogies and I don’t really care for trees in my yard.    However, it’s those last two that prompted this post today. 
Today I am having tree service work done in my yard.  I originally called the guy to have three trees removed.  By the time my consult was done he had convinced me to leave two of the trees and only remove one (not sure how this guy makes money)… anyway…  I just got one of those calls that will immediately make you want to be sick.  I pick up the phone to hear my tree guy say “Mrs. Lawson, Sorry to bother you at work but I have bad news”.   OH NO… THIS CANT BE GOOD.  In 13 seconds my mind flashed images of:
A tree falling into my house.
A tree falling into my neighbors house.
The tree guy falling out of the tree.
A tree falling on the tree guy.
A tree falling on a passing vehicle.
Thank goodness it was none of my morbid scenarios.  His “bad news” was the fact that in removing the one bad tree he discovered that the good tree next to it was not as healthy as he had thought.  The offending tree had, over the years, caused the innocent and unexpecting tree next to it to become damaged.  Basically, the BAD tree got into the GOOD trees personal space.  It caused the good tree to lose all its limbs on one side in order to avoid the BAD tree.  When losing the limbs wasn’t enough, the GOOD tree started to lean in the opposite direction of the BAD tree to try to get away from it.  The only option I had was to drop the GOOD tree. 
This, much to my surprise, caused me to have one of those hippie analogy moments.   If I were a tree – who would be the trees beside me that grow big, strong,  straight, tall and encourage me to do the same.  Who are the trees beside me that are causing me to bend, change, veer off my goals path and will eventually lead to the demise of my dreams?  
I’d like to tell you that I could only think of “strong tree” type friends and colleagues and that no one came to mind as the “invasive and harmful tree” – but that would be a lie.  I actually came up with several offenders.  Some I had always known were non-supporters in my life while others came to be quite a shock to me.  By using this tree analogy I was able to see more clearly how some people very cunningly and stealthily are sabotagers (I think I made this work up but you know what I mean).
So now the big question is- what am I going to do about it?  I wish I could give you the answer to that but at the moment I don’t have one.  I think identifying the negativity around me was a huge eye opener for me.  What I know for sure is that I now have those BAD trees on my radar.  I will keep a close eye on them.  I will stand tall against them.  And, if I find they are unwilling to grow big, straight, strong and tall with me then I will have to do as my wise tree guys suggested and ….. drop them.
I bet in the brief moments it took you to read this blog, you immediately had a “good tree” or “bad tree” pop into your head.  Who supports you?  Who tries to hold you back; doesn’t want to see you succeed?  I’d love to hear about it.  Email me directly at redfeathernetworking@gmail.com. Or free free to say hi on Twitter @chelelawson, connect with me on LinkedIn – Michele Lawson, or simply leave a comment to this post.
Thanks for reading!
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There you are at a networking event, putting all of your new networking skills into practice. You’ve dressed perfectly for the event and are feeling great. You got your new personal business cards in your pocket, ready to hand out so that people can stay in contact with you after the event. You execute the first introduction flawlessly and it’s going great. And then suddenly… it happens. An awkward silence. You can’t think of anything to say to move the conversation forward! The seconds tick onward and you’re both feeling the pressure to say something… but what?

In networking, a graceful exit strategy is as essential as a good introduction. The ability to close a conversation on a high note and leave your new contact feeling good about the interaction is key to establishing a connection that will continue past the event. Many people feel awkward about walking away, but with a bit of planning and practice you can manage it easily.First, come up with a few exit lines that you are comfortable with. Here are a few I have used:

- It’s been great to meet you, I’m going to mingle a bit. If I don’t see you again tonight, good luck with your [vacation/class/wedding/new job].

-Here’s my card, don’t forget to send me an email with that [insert something you talked about, like a website].

- [If you see someone else you know] I see someone I need to speak with, let’s catch up online.

- I’m going to head over to the food/bar for a drink/snack. I’ll talk with you soon.

The key to a great exit line is to keep it simple and don’t make excuses. You’re at an event where networking and mingling is expected, nobody should plan on hanging out all night with the first person they meet. It’s really OK for you to end the conversation and walk away.

So, when is the right time to exit a conversation? The right time to exit a conversation is BEFORE the awkward silence but after you’ve talked to someone for awhile and made a connection with them. The first opportunity arises once you’ve introduced yourselves, talked about your occupations, mentioned your families, etc. It happens when all of the standard small talk is out of the way and you haven’t found any strong connecting things to talk about (like you went to the same college, share a favorite football team, know the same people). That’s one great place to end the conversation and move on.

If you have found some things in common, it’s fine to let the conversation continue. Talk about the thing you have in common – this is how you are going to make the connection stronger. Once that topic is exhausted, you have a second opportunity to deliver your exit line and move on to mingle with other people.

Just like your introduction, your exit like takes planning and practice. I’ve outlined the simplest way to exit a conversation, and it future posts and in RFN workshops I’ll discuss techniques to handle more difficult and awkward situations you might encounter as you put yourself out there and build your network.
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Teaching you to make strong connections and build strong networks
Introduction

Red Feather Networking was born out of the stunning realization that making connections with other people opens up the world and allows amazing things to happen. Simply getting to know the people you meet allows you to make connections between people you know, recognize opportunities for enhancing each others lives, and generally make the world a happier place. You don’t need an ulterior motive or want something in particular. You just need the desire to open up, look around, and experience something pretty amazing over time.

We’re here to help you lean how to do it. Introvert, extrovert, traditional networker, or homebody — we offer articles, workshops, keynotes, videos, books, and advice to help you make connecting with others easier. We’ll help you with information about topics related to networking, such as professionalism, work issues, job hunting, and living your best life.

It does take a little practice and dedication, and it takes some courage to risk rejection. However, it doesn’t take time away from your job or your family. It doesn’t require you to ask everyone you know for favors, and it doesn’t mean people will start avoiding your phone calls because you bug them too much!

What Does the Red Feather Mean?

The red feather is a symbol indicating that the wearer is open to making connections, in other words getting to know new people and having fun doing it! Wear it on your conference badge at a conference where red feathers are attending and  everyone will know you’re open to talking with them. If you see someone with a red feather on their badge, know that you can approach them without fear of being brushed off or getting a rude rejection. When you see red feathers, you know your world is about to open up!

The History of the Red Feathers

The red feathers began when a group of professionals attending a conference connected through social media to create a fun, worldwide network of colleagues from all fields. The network became so large and diverse, the group attached red feathers from the craft store to their conference badges in order to recognize each other in the crowd of conference attendees. Word (and feathers) soon spread, and by the end of five days, Red Feathers were in every workshop, around every corner, and enjoying themselves at every turn. Ask any Red Feather and they’ll tell you, it was a conference experience like no other!

Believing that neither professionalism nor networking needs to be boring, Red Feathers embrace their love for life, passion for fun and their desire to be a valuable resource to others. Seeking to make connections with others- not for their own selfish benefit — but because when you reach out and connect with those around you, the possibilities are endless!

We’re kind of like the 1985 movie The Breakfast Club.  Each of us brings something unique to the table.  We are ….. a talker…..a techie……a writer……a creator…..an organizer…..a webmaster…and a performer.