15 Tips For Mastering Networking, Email, and Productivity

by Tim Jahn on December 7, 2011

Running a business is hard.  No matter what your focus is, there are some common business issues you’re going to run into.

Like having to network and build relationships.  And deal with email or having so much work on your plate that you’re ready to explode.  And when it all goes wrong, you scream at the top of your lungs and don’t know what to do.

Here’s a collection of 15 tips from previous posts of ours that address these areas of business and will hopefully lighten your load a bit.


These tips were originally published in a post about ways to win at networking.

1. Remember names.

Figure out a way to remember names that works for you.  I’ve found myself repeating the name as soon as the person introduces themselves, over and over, until I feel confident I have it committed to memory. This sounds crazy to me, but it works, so I do it.  Remember names.  It’s so key.

2. Be helpful.

Maybe it’s for a new job, or a new business opportunity, or an internship, or a graphic designer, or a good carpet cleaner.  Any way to help this new person in the things they need to get done.

3. Exchange contact info.

Before you’re done chatting, give them your contact info so you can continue the conversation in the future.  Don’t be shy about who you give your info to, unless they’re clearly just going to put you on their e-book marketing list and spam you for months.  Even if you feel you didn’t strike up a quality connection with somebody, you never know who they might pass your info on to when they’re helping connect people.

4. Know your goals.

If you don’t know why you’re networking, you’re going to have a hard time winning at networking.  Before you go to a conference or event, figure out exactly why you’re going and what you are looking to get out of the experience.  Without knowing your goals and purpose ahead of time, there’s no point in going.

5. Realize it’s more than networking.

Spend some time in conversation to get to know the people you’re meeting.  The more you know about somebody (and common interests you have), the easier it is to help them.  The people who truly win at networking understand that it’s about really getting to know people – not trying to meet as many people as quickly as possible.


Prevent Having Too Much On Your Plate

These tips were originally published in a post about how to prevent having too much on your plate.

6. Determine your priorities.

Figure out what’s most important to you.  Then figure out what’s second most important to you, and so on.  Your priorities should guide what projects and endeavors you choose to get involved with.  Create various buckets to group your work into.  If something doesn’t fit into one of those buckets, he probably won’t do it.

7. Abide by that priority list.

You know when you give your dad a fancy new touch screen cell phone and you can never get a hold of him because he never turns it on?  Same principle applies here.  That priority list you created is only useful if you stick to it.  If that new opportunity doesn’t fit with something on the list, it’s probably not the best fit for you at the moment.

8. Know your limits.

Be aware of how much you’re capable of handling at one time.  Are you a great multi-tasker?  Do you get stressed really easily?  Does that stress rub off on your family and loved ones?  Know your limits and when you’re close to reaching them.  Too often, we take on too much because we forget that we’re only capable of so much at one time.


Start Loving Email Again

These tips were originally published in a post about how to start loving email again.

9. Use Gmail.

Gmail has the best spam protection I’ve ever seen. You will get zero spam in your inbox – zero. This should help with the too many emails problem. And your happiness level should go up a good amount too.

10. Unsubscribe from what you don’t read.

Get rid of the 645 newsletters you don’t read, the daily deal emails you don’t care about, and any other junk you subscribe to that you simply don’t read. This will cut down on your email volume significantly.

11. Manage email on your own time.

Instead of reading entire emails immediately as they come in, scan the messages and flag any that you need to read later in the day. Or don’t even check emails as they come in. Turn off all your notifiers and schedule a few times a day to dedicate to checking and reading email.


Adapting When Things Go Wrong

These tips were originally published in a post about techniques for adapting when things go wrong.

12. Expose yourself to new ideas.

Watch a TV show or movie from a different genre than you’re used to. Listen to a completely different style of music. Go see a musical instead of a regular play. The idea here is that the bigger the variety of ideas and creativity you interact with, the more ideas you have in your bag of tricks when the time comes to “think outside the box”.

13. Have a backup plan.

Your backup plan doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, when I once forgot my Sprint stick at home, I could’ve made sure there was some work on my computer I could do that didn’t require an internet connection. That way I’d have had something to fall back on.

14. Watch a live improv show.

Seriously! I’m from Chicago, so I’m a little biased since we’re a huge improv comedy city, but improv is the biggest example of how important it is to be able to adapt. Watch an improv show and you’ll see what I mean. Whether you take an intro to improv class or go check out a local improv troupe, you’ll learn a bit about how to react to various situations effectively.

15. Get over it.

No matter what, you’re going to have to get over it. Sitting around and sulking about what could have been will never move you forward.

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  • http://www.SiliconPrairieNews.com/ Jeff Slobotski

    Great piece Tim! Keep up the good work…

    • Anonymous

      Its great to see when friends are reading & commenting on the same posts 🙂 #KeepMovingForward

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  • http://www.simplicitypost.com Jørgen Sundgot

    Further on the note of how to start loving e-mail again, heavy e-mail users might want to check out SaneBox, PowerInbox and ActiveInbox. All plug nicely into Gmail (and other clients), and are popular tools for getting to the important stuff and getting a grip on e-mail in general.

    • http://www.EntrepreneursUnpluggd.com Tim Jahn

      Thanks for the suggestions and the comment Jorgen! I’m a huge fan of Gmail and it’s nice that there are so many useful ways of extending and customizing it.

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  • Shahab

    Tim good stuff. For entrepreneurs I think #9 is one we need to really work at. I’ve found to set limits on a quarterly basis is a good way to set limits. Not only does this relieve stress but Also helps improve the quality of the fewer set of things you take on

    • http://www.EntrepreneursUnpluggd.com Tim Jahn

      I think you meant #8, right? 😉 Completely agreed about limits. I’ve always been a fan of less is more.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Kevin Willett

    I like your productivity ideas it’s amazing the positive impact they will have on your business