When Networking Online and Off, Project Positivity. Sob Stories Don’t Sell.

When was the last time you were at a cocktail party and someone cornered you with a story about how things just weren’t going well with their new business, their job search, or their family? When it happened, how did it make you feel? If you’re like most people you probably felt helpless and uncomfortable. You listened politely until you could find a way to make your exit. And when you came across their business card the next day, those uncomfortable feelings  rushed back, so you pushed the card out of sight.

Sound familiar?

Unless you’re conducting a Nigerian bank scam, positivity as a general rule, works better than whining. Sob stories don’t sell.

Sob stories at networking events make people inch away. Sob stories on Twitter cause people to unfollow you. Sob stories during a  job interview leave a bad impression on the hiring manager, who won’t call you back for that follow-up interview.

Think about it. If whenever people see you or read your tweets and you’re frustrated and discouraged because things aren’t going well, your pessimism is what they’ll remember. And who’s going to want to work down the hall from Mr. Pessimistic?

Don’t be a Debbie Downer. Do your very best to always convey positivity. Because people want to work with people they like. And most people don’t like a Debbie Downer.

I know it can be hard to sound optimistic when times are tough. But people are always watching you, gauging you, judging you.  And the way you respond to adversity is how you will be remembered. This is how people will perceive your brand. So if you’re having an especially tough day, refrain from posting online. Wait until you feel better!

How to Project Positivity and Get Your Point Across

  1. Focus on all the good you have done. Create an online portfolio or  list of career wins. (Reflecting on all of these wins will uplift you on a particularly bad day). Tweet a positive link to your profile, or update your LinkedIn status with what you have done and what you can do, i.e. “I love helping organizations tell their stories to the media. Take a look at some of my success stories. http://bit.ly/m4Rs84
  2. Lead with how you can help. Not what you want. Instead of saying “I’m looking for clients!” or “I’m looking for a new job. Help!” say “I’m a proven marketing professional who has helped large and small businesses double sales  through my outreach,” or “I’m a senior level fundraiser who helps struggling nonprofits land major funding through my powerful grant writing. How can I help you?”
  3. Don’t miss opportunities Be sure to let people know where they can find more information about you. When you’re sending out emails, include your new portfolio and LinkedIn profile in your e-mail signature. Mention your website in your voicemail.
  4. Be genuinely interested in people. Find out what other people are up to, what they need and how you can help them out. When you help others, they will naturally want to help you. The road to a great career is paved with mutually beneficial relationships. Don’t be the person who always has their  hand out asking for something. Ask how you can help. Can you volunteer your time? Before you ask someone to help you, be prepared to give something back.

How do you respond to negativity? Have you had a person turn you off with their pessimism online or in person?

Amanda Miller Littlejohn is a PR strategist at Mopwater Social PR, and the author of the Mopwater Manual, a career guide for PR professionals. Follow her on Twitter @amandamogul.

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