What does productivity have to do with networking? Well, when networking is done correctly it takes time. I often hear of business owners telling me that they don’t have time to network. And every time, I’ll say ‘you don’t have time not to network’. So we are going to look at some online tools for increasing productivity and with this new found time, you’ll be able to dedicate yourself to some strategic networking!
Using Technology to Drive Productivity
By using technology to save you time or indeed to ‘buy back’ time, you can reinvest these minutes and hours into networking. I outlined some other practical points in my blog Why Productivity Matters if You Want to Be an Amazing Networker. And I mentioned that technology allows us to automate and short circuit so many small tasks that we all undertake each day.
This is not an exhaustive list, by any means, but it’s a start. You may already be using some of these tools and not others. These are ones I have tried and tested and love, as they make my life more streamlined. This is very necessary.
When I started out on my networking journey, I found myself incapable of managing all of the follow up, really being present and making sure I was prepared, so I had to look at how to manage my time differently.
So much of this is down to mindset, but as with everything these days, there are technical tools for increasing productivity and just making your life easier. I thought I’d share a few that I like and that add value to my day.
My Top 12 Productivity Tips
I speak about this regularly at networking meetings and in speaking engagements where I speak on the topic of networking. Learning to use a default diary in your business is an absolute must. It takes time to manage and learn, but it’s worth it. Make sure to batch your activities and your time. You read more on some examples of batching your tasks here.
Ensure that networking is a sacrosanct element of your week and that it’s networked to your diary as a ‘must do’ event. Make your networking follow up a part of your default diary. Schedule it in to your online diary and wrap all your other meetings, obligations and work around it. It requires discipline, but will be worth it in the long run, I promise!
I always advise to schedule time straight afterward a networking meeting or event for follow up. You can read all about the tips and ideas for follow up, but to give you an idea, it might entail, email connections, connecting on Linkedin and other social media channels, connecting two businesses and following up on referrals received or simply saying thank you!
You know when you are trying to set an appointment for multiple people and you’re now at 20 emails back and forth with no result? What a waste of time.
Doodle is a masterpiece of simplicity.
Whether you are setting up a meeting for two people or multiple people, whether you are in the same geographic location and timezone or across multiple, Doodle will identify the timezone and therefore avoid confusion around times being set and proposed. It can be collaborative, for example, if you need people to vote on the best time, then you can find a majority time for a larger group.
Online Calendar Booking Systems
Acuity and Calendly are two cloud based schedulers that allow you to allot time for particular events and meetings, that fit in with the rest of your work week. You can colour code meeting types, name time slots plus brand the calendar (free and paid versions of these platforms are available depending on your needs).
You can send people the link and they book a slot that suits them, this slots into your diary and you can manage your messaging through the system also, e.g. if you need to send a Zoom invite. Likewise, if the person needs to cancel, they can do so through the link and reschedule to another time. It saves so much back and forth on email trying to get a suitable time, but it also means you have defaulted your diary each week to create a routine and know how you can stay focussed on developing your business.
So this was a little bit of a game changer for me. Firstly, it’s available for desktop, as an app on your mobile and has a web clipper. I used to do everything in word and I can’t count the number of times I lost documents and content because it wasn’t saved or my battery ran out.
And then I found Evernote.
I now start all my blogs and jot down all my thoughts there. It’s saved every few seconds, so I never lose a thing. You can paste graphics, take a screen grab from something you like that has created an idea for you and save it to your notes.
Likewise, when I’m out for a walk or listening to a podcast, I just jot down my thoughts in the app on my phone and it syncs with my desktop version, so I know there is always a record of my thoughts, observations, ideas and general a-ha moments!
Xero is a cloud based acccounts package. There are many others on the market too, however this one is one of the better ones on the market, particularly as it bought Hubdoc and can scan and recognise data on receipts and invoice for you to input into Xero.
There are easy dashboards to visualise your cashflow position (mission critical in any business), your debtor days and overall business health.
It has an area to link in to your accountant for those all important VAT returns and you can automate all the processes around invoicing, statements, personalised messaging (that you can leverage to showcase new services or products or news).
And all of this can then tie into your bank account for simple bank reconcilations. What’s not to love.
For desktop – another little game changer! I don’t know about you, but I have so many groups for work, networks, sub groups, committees, my kids’ schools, activities – oh my Lord the list goes on. I downloaded the Whatsapp for desktop app recently, I pinned it to my taskbar and I’m ready to go with instant messaging at any time. This really saves me so much time as I don’t keep needing to reach for my phone to connect with people.
Record rather than write them. This is valid for more and more of the social and online platforms, from Whatsapp to Linkedin. There is a little microphone icon and you press this and record your message. Much quicker and more efficient!
Tip: Did you know that you can now record a voiceover or presentation content on Canva too? I think this will be big!
Appily Ever After
Getting the apps right for your business. This is really key and again I mentioned it in my other productivity blog. Making sure that apps fit in with your other systems is really important, both for automation and for saving you precious time that could be spent elsewhere working on your business.
Forms, forms, forms…Jotform makes it super easy to design forms for all purposes, be they application forms, registration forms, feedback forms, contact forms, evaluation forms, reservation/booking forms, request forms and much more. You can set up conference or seminar registrations, take payments and now there is a Jotform Tables which gives a huge array of templates for calendars, marketing plans, rosters, project management and so much more. Check it out!
Meetingsbooker.com offer a venue finding and booking service for meetings room (and much more). If you are a busy professional, you can source meetings rooms anywhere (137,000 choices worldwide) and a new part of their service is helping people who are now working remotely, due to Covid19, to find a local working hub or serviced office to work from.
I’ve only just got introduced to this list making and to do list platform and I’m already in love. I’m busy setting up lists…who doesn’t love a good list? Watch out 2021, I’m going to be super organised :).
It’s extremely easy to set up and you can use a list function, connect people to tasks, set up projects and boards to visualise your tasks. The genius is in the simplicity!
Your Social Media and Phone Time
Now here is a sure fire way to save on time, energy and head space. Put your phone down. We all know that social media tends to take us down the proverbial rabbit hole.
You know when you look at a Youtube video or a tweet and then you start looking at the next video or all the responses to a tweet?
Well here’s the thing – is any of this time working towards your goal of developing your business? If not, then a change of tactics is needed.
Tip: Put your phone away and use it as a reward for a task done, a project completed or indeed on your breaks.
Ready to Make Some Serious Changes?
So what are you going to automate and upgrade today to get back some time and make your week much more productive?
Keeping in Touch With NetworkingJean.ie
If you have other ideas and suggestions, I’d love to hear them. You can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s keep the #networking conversation going! You can join my mailing list too and I’d love to have you on board.
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