Growing Your Career Through Board Involvement: An interview with Martha Goldberg Aronson

GROWING YOUR CAREER THROUGH BOARD INVOLVEMENT

By: Erica Dvorak

As a young professional, the thought of advancing my career (and how to go about that) is always on my mind. I have found that board and committee involvement for both nonprofits and for-profits has been a great way for me to grow my network, expand my knowledge and advance my career. Although I have been able to be a part of boards for the past four years, there is still so much to learn.

I recently had the opportunity to connect with TeamWomenMN’s upcoming speaker, Martha Goldberg Aronson, the former Executive VP and President of Global Healthcare at Ecolab and a board member of many organizations. I jumped at the chance to ask her about her experiences with board involvement. The knowledge I gained from the information Martha shared was too good not to pass along to fellow young professionals and individuals of all ages who are interested in starting a journey into board involvement.

Getting Started with Board Involvement

Q: When did you start your board involvement?

Martha: My involvement started while I was at Wellesley College. I applied and was accepted to serve as a member of the Student Life Committee of the Board of Trustees. Right after college, I was asked to join a nonprofit called Wellesley College Friends of Athletics as I was passionate about athletics and raising funds for the organization. Sometimes getting involved is as simple as raising your hand and other times you are asked. Bottom line, step up and get involved.

Q: How do you decide what board best fits your time and energy?

Martha: It is best to get involved with an organization whose values align with your values. Choose an organization that you care about and where you think you can make a contribution that positively impacts the community. I have to say more often than not, once you start to get involved in the community, you tend to be approached to be on a board. I was approached by the Minnesota Opera to join their board when I was an executive at Medtronic, and although I had never seen a show, I am passionate about the arts and the important role they play in our community, so I said yes. It was a terrific board to be a part of and I learned a lot.

Q: What are a few things you would have liked to know when you started your board involvement journey?

Martha: You need to be careful about listening and learning during your first year(s) of involvement. Women often feel a need to prove that they deserve to have a seat at the table and sometimes that can backfire. Listen and learn before you start expressing too many of your opinions. Feel it out. Be smart about when you choose to speak.

Balancing Career Workload and Board Involvement

Q: When working at Ecolab, how did you balance your workload and board involvement?

Martha: It helped to have bosses who were supportive of board involvement. Ecolab is very involved in the local community and it is part of the company’s values, so it makes it easier. It’s important to ensure you are getting your work done in a timely fashion for your “day job” so that your managers support your outside involvement.

Q: Did you ever come across a time where you had to step down from board obligations because of your workload? If so, how did you address it?

Martha: Juggling obligations is not always easy. There was a year at the Guthrie where I could not attend the executive committee meetings because Ecolab’s executive meetings were held at the same time. I offered to step down from the Guthrie executive committee for this reason; however, they were able to alter the schedule the following year as they had not yet set the schedule. This gave me the opportunity to remain involved on the board and still remain true to my Ecolab obligations. This was a testament to how if you address a conflict early, you can get out ahead of it.

Q: When the workload becomes a bit too much, how do you stay focused and not get flustered?

Martha: Lists! I am co-hosting a leadership development program and recently I had to bring something to our first meeting that represented me. Debating what I should bring, I asked one of my sons and he quickly replied, “A notebook – you’re always making a list!” And, he’s right – I am a list maker. Lists help me stay on track and provide a way for me to see what is most important and urgent in the day (and week) and set my priorities accordingly. I also like to take a look at my calendar in advance and know what I have going on the next day, week, etc. and prepare ahead of time.

I realize there are moments when you aren’t able to do that – and so you have to put your nose to the grindstone and get it done. Sometimes life requires an 80-hour workweek from you. I do not promote this as a part of your regular routine but sometimes life requires it and you just need to work through it. Having a strong support network in place to do this when necessary is invaluable. One of the great things that Wellesley College taught me is that no matter how big your stack is to work through, somehow you can always work through it.

Establishing Meaningful Relationships

Q: How do you establish meaningful relationships with other board members during and after your service?

Martha: I have found that establishing relationships during board service is relatively easy. With for-profit boards you are often having board dinners, making it easy to get to know other board members on a personal level. For nonprofit boards, it is easy to establish relationships because of your common ground of a passion for the same purpose. Continuing the meaningful relationships after your service truly depends on how much time and energy you choose to put into it.

Getting the Most Out of Your Board Involvement

Q: How do you get the most out of your board involvement?

Martha: Get involved in areas where you can make a contribution and where you can have the greatest impact. I have also found that it’s amazing what you can learn from other board members and how their knowledge and passion can fill your soul. Getting the most out of your involvement is really about what you are willing to make of it.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with those that are interested in board/committee involvement?

Martha: The earlier, the better! Work with your current network to find an organization with whom to get involved. Also, it is never too early to turnaround and help the next generation. When is the last time you asked someone younger than you out to lunch or coffee? You can be a mentor at any age and provide encouragement for others to get involved in their own passions.

Register here to see Martha speak at our April 13, 2017 Power Luncheon: http://bit.ly/2mN2YeH


Erica Dvorak is a Senior Marketing Specialist at UnitedHealthcare, and serves on the TeamWomenMN Young Professionals Board as Co-Chair of the Marketing and Branding Committee, Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce YPro Committee as 2017 Past Chair/2016 YPro Chair, and U of M Masonic Children’s Hospital Corporate Advisory Council as a member. Erica enjoys contributing to the success of businesses, as well as individuals. A great day for Erica is a day where she has been able to help an individual by giving them an opportunity to advance their career and grow their confidence in knowing that anything is possible.

The Secret Power of Expressing Gratitude

By: Caryn Sullivan 

Everyone is talking about gratitude these days. It’s good for your soul to feel grateful. Gratitude fosters resilience. What’s even better than experiencing gratitude?  Expressingyour gratitude – to your boss for the great year-end bonus, to your spouse for giving you a day at the spa, to your neighbor for shoveling your walk when your grandma entered hospice.

But I’ve discovered a secret. It’s more powerful than feeling grateful. More powerful than expressing gratitude.

It’s being on the receiving end of another’s gratitude.

I’ve had an unusual professional life, derailed by and redirected by my personal life. It began with a shingle, clients, and a time sheet. But when my son was diagnosed with autism in 1993 I exited the practice of law to become his caregiver and advocate.

When I was treated for breast cancer stellar medical professionals shepherded me through the grueling treatment. Friends, family, and neighbors stepped forward to keep life on track at home.

When my daughter had a bone marrow transplant I became her constant companion, shaving her head when the chemo attacked the brown hair she held firmly to; preparing meals she asked for, then tossing them into the disposal when she realized her brain and her stomach weren’t in sync.

And more.

I’ve expressed my gratitude for medical professionals, caregivers, family, friends, and neighbors who lent a hand in usual and unexpected ways: to the doctors and nurses who helped me to heal; to my son for donating his bone marrow to his sister; to the team at the University of Minnesota who restored my daughter’s health; to CaringBridge for affording me a platform to share, process and connect during a frightening time; to the neighbors who swept out my garage, took my car to be washed, and brought flowers, toilet paper, and food after my husband’s heart failed him.

Expressing gratitude out loud and on paper has helped me to heal, to repay, in small measure, a debt that grew legs.

But I’ve also been on the receiving end of gratitude and that engendered a much different outcome.

My circuitous professional path led me back to my college degree in communications when, on a whim, I wrote an essay about the constant state of vigilance required when a child has autism. What came next was unexpected and life changing.

Within days of publication in the St. Paul Pioneer Press my essay generated email after email from strangers, all expressing the same sentiment: thank you for sharing your story, for yourstory is my story.

Those emails gave me pause. Maybe I was on to something. I had never considered being a columnist. But if my writing could help others, then maybe that was what I was supposed to do.

I wrote another piece about my family’s experience with autism. More emails.

I shifted gears and wrote about other challenges people face, some of which I had experienced firsthand, others I learned about from friends or strangers: mental illness, addiction, cancer, brain injury, military service….

Everyone has a story.

Nine years later I’ve written hundreds of columns. With the encouragement of family, friends, and fans I wrote a memoir. I’m proud and humbled by the outcome. People have told me they wished they’d read Bitter or Better years earlier. They’ve told me I’ve inspired them, helped them to heal.

The icing on the cake came when Bitter or Better won the 2015 Midwest Book Award for inspiration.

All because strangers took a moment to tell me that my story had touched their hearts. And that they were grateful. And gave me the idea, the courage, and the confidence to keep writing.

As we embark on a new year I’m eager to share more stories on the page and from the stage. I’ve found my footing, my purpose. Every email from a reader, every comment from an audience member is fuel in my resilience gas tank. When doubts insinuate themselves into my soul I reach into the reservoir of gratitude and power forward.

The gratitude of others is a gift that keeps on giving.

What about you? Who has given you the gift of gratitude? How has it helped you?

Gustavus Women in Leadership Boot Camp Prepares Students for Professional Life

During the weeklong academic break before Spring Semester, 38 Gustavus Adolphus College students took part in an intensive, three-day workshop focusing on professional development and career readiness. Held at locations across the Twin Cities, the inaugural Gustavus Women in Leadership (GWIL) Scholars Business Boot Camp was sponsored by the Gustavus Office of Career Development, the GWIL National Advisory Committee, and consulting firm CareerPrep.

During the workshop, female and male students at all stages of the career readiness and job search process attended career speakers and panels, business case studies, skill-building sessions on presentation and negotiation skills, and career planning activities geared toward preparing students to effectively navigate their early careers.

“It’s powerful for students to have time to completely focus on their career development and have employers, Gustavus alumni, senior business leaders, and Gustavus staff all coming together to help them launch their business career,” said Sara Wegmann, co-founder of CareerPrep.

“As a senior, I’ve been asked all year long about my plans after graduation,” Lydia Kennedy ’17 said. “The boot camp helped me understand that at 21 or 22 years old, it is completely okay to not know what you want to do. This prepared me to be excited for the future and the incredible opportunities ahead.”

Throughout the three days of the workshop, students were hosted for panels and networking at a variety of Twin Cities businesses, including:

Intereum, Inc.  – A certified Herman Miller office furniture dealer and provider of commercial audio visual and architectural wall offerings in Minneapolis, MN.

Deloitte – Deloitte provides industry-leading audit, consulting, tax, and advisory services to many of the world’s most admired brands, including 80 percent of the Fortune 500.

U.S. Bancorp – U.S. Bancorp is an American financial services holding company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that is the parent company of the U.S. Bank National Association, known as U.S. Bank, the 5th largest commercial bank in the United States.

Target – The Target Corporation, also known simply as Target, is the second-largest discount store retailer in the United States, behind Walmart, and a component of the S&P 500 Index.

Gravie – A Minneapolis-based startup company that helps individuals and businesses comparison-shop for health care in the private market and on MNsure, the state-run insurance exchange.

Schermer – A Minneapolis-based, globally-focused B2B marketing agency that builds and launches Buyer-Driven Brands for several of the world’s greatest companies, including Honeywell, GE, 3M, Deluxe, Piper Jaffray, Wells Fargo, and General Mills.

“As students embark on their career search, there is no better way to get to know a company than to visit and absorb the culture, meet their team, hear from leaders, and see how employees treat each other,” Wegmann said. “Relationships are critical to the job search process and getting off campus and into businesses to meet professionals helps students begin the process of building relationships to help guide their careers.”

“My biggest takeaway from the boot camp has to be the importance of informational interviews. A vast number of our speakers attributed their success to having reached out to Gustie alums for coffee, and making endless connections because of it,” Kennedy agreed. “Gusties look out for Gusties.”


Gustavus Women in Leadership is a volunteer-driven student/alumnae program whose purpose is to prepare, promote, and inspire Gustavus women in their professional and personal leadership development. Visit the GWIL website to learn more.

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
jakin@gustavus.edu
507-933-7510

Leadership By Design…NOT Default by Heather Rachel

Successful leaders and business owners have set their course with establishing their goals and maintaining moment for growth.  They are accountable to themselves as well as their customers and employees.

There’s nothing magic about it…Period!

They know that once you’ve started to gain momentum, you have to keep pushing on, making the challenges easier to navigate and plunge through.

Do you have your goals and course laid out for 2017?

Will you take the time to review 2016 – what worked, what didn’t and how will you grow and expand your business in 2017?

If you are a business owner, solo-preneur or an active leader in anyway shape and form, it is up to you and ONLY you to get your goals and plan of attack in place.

Left to default will keep you spiraling, frustrated and continuing to ask….When will it change? UGH!

I know many of you are saying “Money’s been tight.  It wasn’t the greatest year for sales.  I need to wait until 2nd or 3rd Quarter of 2017 to be able to do this.”

Ummmm Newsflash – Those are excuses, procrastinations and words that will keep your business operating as it always has.  And my guess is, it’s not where you want your business to be performing at.

If you want your business to grow in every way shape and form possible, then give it the attention it needs and seek out experts to help you work through the challenges.

Tired of complaining what doesn’t work and wasting time and money on quick fixes?

Asking and seeking help for your business is a BOLD move that takes STRENGTH.  Get out of your own way, throw away the mentality that seeking help and advice for your business is a sign of WEAKNESS!

There are resources available that WILL help you and your business.

You owe it to yourself and your business to take the time TODAY…Don’t put this off any longer, and find a resource that – you trust and has experience unique to your needs!

Not sure what you or your business need?  Shoot me an email  or call (952/426-0819) and let’s get you pointed in the right direction.  It’s super easy…..Try it!

“What you do today, builds tomorrow’s success!”

– Heather Rachel

Self-Nurture 

By Joan Wipperfurth, Fit and Free Health Consulting

What could you do starting today to show yourself more self- compassion and self-nurture?

You can choose to set an intention to add more joy to your daily experience.  Grab a pen and paper and start making a list of things that you’d like to see become normal parts of your life.  Then actually schedule some of these things on your calendar so that 3 months from now you are actually doing things that nurture your life.

Here are some ideas to get you started: 

     *  Start a gratitude journal and every night write down 3 things that you are

         grateful for that day..

     *  Learn to say ‘No’ to some things so that you can say ‘Yes’ to more important

         things.

     *  Eat healthy meals and snacks for better energy.

     *  Unplug from electronics for a few hours, or better yet, a whole day to enjoy

        some quiet.

     *  Start a bucket list of things you’d like to do while on this earth.

     *  Go to the beach or someplace natural that makes you feel peaceful.

     *  Catch up with an old friend.  Add more social gatherings to your calendar.

     *  Watch a funny movie if you’re feeling lonely to lift your spirits.

     *  Get rid of the clutter in your home.  Open spaces will make you feel calmer.

     *  Take a yoga class.  Yoga is a mind-body-spirit workout that helps you feel

        centered.

     *  Go to the park and watch some toddlers play.  Their excitement for life will

        make you smile.

     *  Drink lots of water.  Sometimes fatigue is really just dehydration.

     *  Experiment with different kinds of tea.  Enjoy them hot or iced.

     *  Go dancing with friends.

     *  Create a vision board on a big poster board.  Cut out pictures of things

        you’d like to have as part of your life.  Dream and have fun with it.

 

(Excerpt taken from my book, “Reaching your Potential:  5 Steps from Surviving to Thriving” available at:

 http://www.amazon.com/Reaching-your-Potential-Surviving-Thriving/dp/0692534164 or at http://www.fitandfreehealthconsulting.com

The Power of Connections

Do You Know the Right People? And Do the Right People Know You?

By: Marci Malzahn

Connections are powerful. I love to hear the stories of business partners who start by saying, “we were buddies in high school” or “we’ve known each other since we were in elementary school” or “we were roommates in college.” From the moment we start relating to people in Kindergarten we start making connections. Some last a lifetime. Others, we only have for a season in our lives. Nevertheless, each person we meet, each connection we make, can help us in the future and we can be of help to them as well.

Every relationship we make throughout our lives is significant. Unfortunately, some relationships leave a negative mark in our lives. But most of them are usually positive. We hope to influence others in a positive way and to help people along the way throughout our life’s journey.

As you grow in your career, you will want to start building a network of other professionals and colleagues whom you trust. You can have different networks of people. There are people you want to have in your network because they could potentially employ you in the future or vice versa, you could hire them to work for you. You may have a separate group of people you network with to brainstorm ideas about your company or the industry you’re in. You will need to be strategic about who you know and also to ensure the right people within your organization and in your industry know you.

People want to do business with people they trust. The best way to get new clients is by word of mouth and a personal referral. Regardless of the situation you’re currently in, I encourage you to grow your network and nurture your existing relationships. Nurtured relationships become more than a connection. Those people can become lifelong friendships, trusted advisers, and future business partners.

Here are some tips to maximize and nurture your network:

  • Find ways to connect with the people you already have in your network. Truly get to know them and take an interest in their personal life. Learn about them.
  • Listen to people’s stories if they’re open to share and respect them when they don’t want to share.
  • Always be willing to share your story. You never know when your story will change someone’s life.
  • Connect people from your network to others. Connections you make will bear fruit. People appreciate being connected and will keep you at the top of their list when they have an opportunity to connect you to others.
  • Schedule time to nurture your relationships. Yes, it takes time to build connections but it’s worth it. You are investing in people’s lives.
  • Be strategic. Plan ahead and find the right people to connect in an organization—whether you are connecting to make a sale or to be hired.
  • Connect people in your network with others. Be willing to share your connections.
  • Invest in creating a professional profile in your LinkedIn account. This is part of your personal brand.
  • Take advantage of networking opportunities in your company, industry events, and conferences.
  • Be genuine. People know when you’re not interested in them.

There are many things you can do to improve and nurture your network of people. It takes time and effort but you will always reap the rewards. Also, the satisfaction of connecting two people who end up working together, starting a new business venture, or simply forming a new friendship is very fulfilling. In business, always remember to make the right connections and ask yourself the question, “Do I know the right people? And do the right people know me?” The answer is within your reach.

Marci Malzahn is a banking executive and founder of Malzahn Strategic, a community bank consultancy focused on strategic planning, enterprise risk management and talent management. You can contact Marci through her website at http://www.malzahnstrategic.com, and for speaking engagements please contact Preferred Speakers at http://www.preferredspeakers.com.

Profile of an American Medical Traveler

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAZRAAAAJDZiYjQ5YjMzLTY5ZGQtNGQ5Ny1hODk3LTU0NjA1NWVjNzYxZQHave you ever wondered what the typical medical traveler is like? Or wondered what motivates them to travel for medical care? The answers can be quite varied – and often depend on the circumstances the individual is coming from – but there are some trends that we can observe overall. Here’s a look at the most common traits you might find in an American medical traveler.

 Profile of an American Medical Traveler

Which Americans would be most likely to travel for medical procedures? There are actually quite a few groups of people who would benefit.

For example, an American medical traveler might be someone who does not have medical insurance at all, such as someone who is self-employed and cannot afford to purchase insurance individually.

Or it might be someone who has insurance, either through an employer or individually, but needs a medical procedure that is not covered by their insurance plan. There are a lot of common procedures that often aren’t covered by regular health insurance, such as:

  • Plastic surgery
  • Fertility treatments
  • Stem cell treatments
  • Dental procedures
  • Vision procedures
  • Non-emergency cardiovascular procedures
  • Bariatric or weight-loss surgeries
  • Other weight loss programs
  • Substance abuse programs

Another possible profile of an American medical traveler is someone who has insurance, and could get the procedure done at home, but the insurance plan deductibles and/or total out of pocket costs are so high that it’s still advantageous to travel for the procedure to save money. This person may be simply looking to save money overall without sacrificing quality of care. And they get to travel abroad at the same time!

Or it might be someone who needs a procedure that is not yet FDA approved in the US. For example, a new procedure that’s not yet available in the US is the PneumRX Coil System—a new treatment for emphysema that is available in other countries, but not yet in the US.

Or it could be someone who is looking for an expert second opinion. This cohort is quite small because often would-be medical tourists will seek a second opinion closer to home, but with growing trust in international facilities – especially those who specialize in specific procedures – it could become more common over time.

Or it could be as simple as someone looking for provider accessibility, convenience, and quality in their healthcare. In some countries, it’s more common to have a more personal touch with medical care, even speaking with surgeons on the phone when you have questions. It’s also common in some medical tourism settings to have everything covered and planned out in advance, such as transportation to and from everything—the logistics scheduling alone is a big benefit that some people are realizing may be worth the cost even if the procedure would have been covered at home. Additionally, post-operative care is usually included in the package price, whereas at home it may be on top of the price of the treatment, making the at home total cost higher than anticipated.

Last but not least, an American medical traveler might be someone looking for a faster turnaround time. While waitlists are not as common in the US as they are in Canada, it’s certainly not unheard of to have to wait weeks or months for non-emergency procedures. For certain groups in the US this is a growing concern. One such group is war veterans who are served by the Veterans Administration (VA). With limited VA healthcare facilities, long waits are becoming much more of a problem for this cohort. For those who can pay out of pocket, it can be beneficial to skip the wait by traveling for the procedure.

Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

24 Hour Rule 

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAX5AAAAJDk0MDNhZGQyLWI0NjgtNDlkNi1iYmJlLWYyNjI1MDZhYTBkOAOne lesson I’ve tried to passed along to others, was one that I had to learn myself, and sometimes the hard way – the 24 Hour Rule.

Throughout my leadership journey, I realized I was a bit reactionary. If I was a poker player, people could easily read my cards with just my body language. I had to learn how to not be so reactionary and allow myself time to reflect and then make decisions. That’s why I instituted a “24 Hour Rule.” With this rule, if there is a client or a boss that is upset, I would ask for 24 hours to look objectively at the situation and get back to them with an appropriate answer. The key is to avoid escalating the situation.

The “24 Hour Rule” is sort of a “time out” whether in a business setting – or a personal one. This rule has saved me so many times from over-reacting to something that really wasn’t as critical as I might have thought. It has changed me to a more active leader rather than a reactive leader and provided me with the tools to be a calm and collected leader that can solve problems effectively. I have taught this methodology to others, and it often comes back to me in stories of how it helped someone else!

So to my younger self, I wish I had this pearl of wisdom at my disposal as I do now. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been so quick to respond to many small situations that seem major at the time. My advice is to find a way to process information and really allow yourself time to make decisions. As someone, like many professionals, who can think quickly on my feet and make good, sound decisions – I sure would have benefited from the ability to sit back and look at things from a bird’s eye view.

Perspective is everything. Problems that seem earth shattering from the ground are often minuscule from above.

Published in EncourageHer Network Magazine. Check out the latest issue here: https://encouragehernetwork.com/magazine/current/

Starting 2016 Well

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After the feast comes the reckoning, the saying goes.

Every New Year many of us analyze what we must change to improve our life quality.  The two categories that almost always top the list for health reasons are increasing physical activity and eating healthier.

Focusing on lifestyle rather than on exercising and dieting, is often times more effective and everlasting because lifestyle has a positive effect as it implies a change for life.  The diet of the Latin cultures includes many alternatives that include all food groups that makes tweaking your diet in a wholesome direction easier.

You may ask, how do I begin?  A simple way is by steps.  Making small gradual changes is easier than changing a whole system.  For instance, making an effort to switch from whole milk to skim milk and drinking water instead of soda contributes to consuming lesser calories.  Every step counts.

If you like salads, a quick way to dress them is using just lime or lemon juice and pepper plus a little salt, if desired, or using a seasoned vinegar instead of a processed bottled dressing.  Grilled, griddled, or roasted vegetables simply drizzled with olive oil and topped with fresh chopped herbs and a few chile flakes or fresh chiles are exquisite and acquire a gourmet touch.

Focusing on leaner cuts of animal proteins and removing the skin of chicken and fish and the visible fat of chicken, pork and beef, has compounding benefits as fattier foods contain three times the calories of regular foods. Venturing into vegetable proteins and learning to pair them with other foods to make them whole can lead you to discover new ways of eating healthier too.

For a delicious treat after a heavy meal, fruit instead of a decadent dessert is also a better option with lesser calories and better nutrition.  To celebrate the New Year below is a recipe for a quick and easy Fruit Cocktail.

And lastly, eating fresh and artisan foods and food free of hormones, chemicals, preservatives, and mysterious ingredients will make your heart and taste buds dance too!

 

5 Tips for Facing Your Networking Fears

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It’s odd to think that all the skills you used when you were in middle school and high school and maybe college to navigate the lunchroom and parties hold true in business. Yet, they do.

Imagine you are a new student, walking alone into a middle school lunchroom. You might wonder where to sit, who will ask you to join your table, and whether you will be able to keep up on the conversation.

Or maybe these thoughts never crossed your mind. Maybe you always just walked into a lunchroom and owned it, or sat off to the side and watched what was going on. At parties, were you the last to know about it, or were you the one who was welcoming others in and setting up all the activities to make it amazing?

After one of our first networking events together, my client, Harvey Mackay, No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, told me, “You’re a pretty good carpet sweeper.”

I looked at him, confused, and wondered whether it was a compliment or an insult.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

Harvey said, “You did an amazing job of meeting everyone in the room and getting their business card and a few facts about them.”

I was still confused. That was my job! Plus, I only had two hours to meet all 50 people, or at least 80 percent of them.

Here are five tips to help you the next time you face your networking fears:

1. Know why you are in a room or at an event

What do you want to accomplish? If you’re not sure, don’t go. It’s hard to be purposeful and prepared with what you will say about your business if you don’t have clear goals for what you want to get out of the event, or if you don’t know how you can help other people advance their goals.

Bring your business cards and your best smile. But keep your hands free so you don’t look like a fumbler as you take the other person’s card.

2. Arrive early

The beauty of many of the online event lists is you can see who is going to the event before you arrive. And many industry events send out attendance sheets ahead of time so you can make notes of what you can do for the other person or how they might be a helpful relationship to nurture. You want to know who is in the room and be able to speak intelligently to them about their business.

But if you weren’t able to see the attendance list ahead of time, arriving early lets you review the name tags and see who you would like to meet.

3. Go with another person

Yes, it’s back to the high school lunchroom. It’s easier to get the most out of an event if you go with someone who can introduce you to other people.

And it doesn’t hurt if you can be the one to introduce them. I recently guided a friend around an event and connected him to six people that will help advance his business relationships. It was a great feeling to know that he made relationships and it made me appear to be well connected, confident and capable of speaking about his business. We walked out of the event together and were able to recap how the event had gone and how productive it had been for both of us.

4. Survey the room and mingle

People always clump together. I like to start at an event with the group of people near the front of the room or the bar, as they are often the lively ones. I introduce myself without being rude. I do it by being curious about what they are talking about, and speak up when an opening presents itself.

People want to get to know you, but don’t be the one who talks incessantly. If you’re not sure how to engage in conversation, consider the book How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. A Toastmasters group might help you to practice your speaking. Be able to talk to people on the outside of the room or that are in a small group. Welcome others into your circle and always be positive. People will remember you if you are pleasant, polished and not too upbeat.

5. Know what you are going to say

This sounds easier than it is, but it’s hard to be able to speak intelligently at an event in a loud room when the pressure to connect is on. So practice. Be clear on why you want to meet someone when they say they are a project manager or an executive or prospect. Preparing ahead of time makes you more confident to do the job that you are meant to do: meeting new people and expanding your network.

If your goal is to get more done, you need at least 25 people in your network to make this possible. Whether you start from the inside of the room and work out, or from side to side, see if you can sweep across a room of between 25 and 50 people and meet at least 80 percent of them. Be sure to follow up with them if the conversation gets that far.

Sweeping a room can be tough, but it is part of doing business. Just remember that the rewards outweigh the work it takes to make these contacts. Meeting people can be one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of an event.

© 2016 -TeamWomenMN