Golden Business Ideas

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN

Become a Super-Networker
A no-growth business and a static career often have one thing in common: ineffective networking. Successful business managers and professionals don’t keep puny Rolodexes or stacks of old business cards. They formulate a networking strategy and work at it actively. Some steps to take:

Don’t just file away a newly acquired business card. Instead, develop a simple database noting the person’s business specialty, personal interests and any friends and acquaintances you have in common. Maintain the listing in a simple Word document (using the Search function later to match people and subjects) or a database like Access or Outlook’s Contacts, or use Excel as a simple faux-database.

Think of networking as a two-way exercise. Instead of only calling on contacts when you need something, make it a point to send them ideas or things you come across that might interest them.

Use everyday opportunities to network. Your seatmate on an airplane is a likely candidate; so is the stranger sitting next to you in the terminal.

Don’t use a first-time meeting to promote your product or service unless it’s clear from the conversation that such an offer might be welcome. Likewise, don’t use a casual meeting only to promote yourself—ask questions and show interest in the other person. If you’re doing most of the talking, you’re not effectively networking.

Join and become active in professional groups. Make contacts during coffee breaks. If you’re new to a group, search the room for the person who has attracted the largest audience. Fight your shyness and step right up and join the discussion. Later, start conversations with people who might be useful to you, asking questions about their work and interests. Or approach that shy person who’s standing alone.

Keep Track of Employees
A new service tracks computer users’ every keystroke and determines whether they are on target, on schedule and working efficiently. Called Worklenz (wisely, it’s not called Big Brother), it’s designed to help companies manage large projects and maximize worker efficiency.

The tracking is done via specially designed cell phones distributed to each staff member. The program also tracks and collects each employee’s Microsoft Outlook e-mail, Microsoft Project scheduling file and PeopleSoft timesheets to determine which tasks are being worked on and how soon each will be completed.

Developed by Washington, D.C., information-technology company Métier, the technology is being used by Lockheed Martin, BMW, Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Agriculture Department.

STANLEY ZAROWIN, a former JofA senior editor, is now a contributing editor to the magazine. His e-mail address is zarowin@mindspring.com .

An Invitation
The JofA publishes a monthly collection of Golden Business Ideas and invites readers to contribute their favorites (for attribution, if you like).

Send your ideas to contributing editor Stanley Zarowin via e-mail at zarowin@mindspring.com or regular mail at the Journal of Accountancy , Harborside Financial Center, 201 Plaza Three, Jersey City, NJ 07311-3881.

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