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Important Networking Follow-Ups: How to Get Those Job Leads Calling When you leave a networking event, you may be buzzing at the prospects offered by all of those new contacts you made, but soon, the cold reality sets in. How will you be able to convert those contacts you made over a glass of wine into valuable business opportunities for you? Successful networking is all in the follow-up. If you?re looking for a job, following up is all the more crucial. Without touching base after a networking event, you become just another face in the crowd of job hunting hopefuls. The first important rule for following-up with networking contacts is to lay the foundations for the follow-up during the initial meeting. At networking events, there can be a lot of empty promises thrown around. Use that first meeting to convey the message that you haven?t gotten caught up in ?networking fever? but instead that you are very serious about exploring the job opportunity that you?re discussing with your new contact. Ask the contact when would be a good time to follow-up with them, and then reiterate the information back to them at the end of your conversation: ?I look forward to speaking with you Friday at 2 p.m.? If they don?t give you a specific time, then suggest one to them. This rule holds true even if your contact is giving you a lead on a job not with them but with another contact of their own. Let them know you appreciate the information by saying, ?Thanks. I will plan on calling Mary on Monday afternoon at 1 p.m.? Not only will this convey your seriousness about the opportunity presented to you, but it may also get you some handy inside information, as the contact may reply, ?Oh, no, Mary will be out of town until Thursday ? call her then.? The next important rule to networking follow-ups is to follow up with EVERY lead a contact gives you. If a contact suggests that you call someone whom you know won?t really be able to help you in your job search, call him or her anyway. Otherwise, when your contact finds out you aren?t taking their advice, they may just decide not to give you any more the future and any business person can tell you that you never know from whom the most valuable lead will come some day. Keep the lines of communication open by giving any and all suggestions a whirl. Last but not least, do the actual following-up. Follow up with your contact exactly when you said you would, and in the exact manner you said you would (phone, email, letter, etc). If for some reason you can?t make contact at the arranged time, keep trying. If you haven?t made arrangements for a follow-up with a contact, then the rule of thumb is to follow-up with them as soon as possible after meeting them. Try to at least send an email or letter the next day saying what a pleasure it was to meet and that you look forward to talking more in the future, and then say in that note when you plan to follow-up with your contact by phone. Then, of course, stick to that new follow-up obligation. Even if the promises made by a contact while networking don?t pan out for you on the job front, don?t cross them off of your contact list. Keep them in the loop about your job search and your career goals. While they may not have been able to make if happen for you this time, you never know what they might be able to do for you in the future. Your most promising business contact may be someone you already know.

Yes, There Really is a Freebie Santa Claus If you are a cynic when it comes to offers of free stuff, you are not alone. Everyone has had notions like ?there is no such thing as a free lunch? and ?if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is? drilled into their heads, and for good reason ? these things often hold water. On the flip side, there ARE actually lots of places you can score some decent free stuff, if you know where to look and are willing to devote some time to hunting them down. The key to getting the best free stuff with the least amount of hassle is to stick with that healthy cynicism but to also dipping your toe in the freebie pool little by little. But why would anyone give stuff away for free? It is certainly an obvious question, but if you stop to consider it for a moment, you can see that companies actually have a lot of motivation to give away free stuff. After all, if they give you something for free, you are bound to have a little soft spot for their company, and when you are ready to part with some cash, their product may near the top of your list. Also, by giving away free things, companies can convince people to try new products. You might not want to try a new kind of shampoo if you have to pay for it, but you?d certainly be willing to give a free sample a try. You may end up loving it and switching to that shampoo for good, turning you into a paying customer. Another reason a company might give you free stuff is to complete market research. This is where getting free things can get a little complicated for some people because the products may not cost you money, but the offer may cost you a little time. A company might ask you to take a survey of your buying habits before they give you a free offer, or they may ask you to provide feedback on a regular basis as you try their product for free. Some people balk at the time commitment required here, but for other people, filling out some paperwork is a small price to pay for some free stuff. Of course, to convert you into a customer or to communicate with you about market research, a company will have to contact you, which is complicated area number two for freebie lovers. You will almost always be forced to hand over your email address in order to cash in on a free offer, and that is a recipe for opening your inbox up to a barrage of spam (many companies sell your email address to offset the costs of their free promotions, which means the number of people soliciting you can go through the roof very quickly). If you want to avoid this downside of freebie hunting, set up a special email address specifically for your freebie deals. That way all of your spam goes to this one address and your regular email you use with family and friends remains free and clear. One final note of caution about free stuff online: a lot of scammers have hit on the idea of using pretend freebie offers to solicit personal information about people or to convince people to send them money. Don?t send money, even for postage, to a company you don?t know and never, ever give out personal information online. No reputable company is going to ask for your social security number or bank account details for a freebie offer, so don?t hand them out to anyone. When in doubt, skip it and move to the next freebie.

Grocery Check ? Visit your Neighborhood Grocery Website for a Free Deal Page Are you looking for the best in grocery freebies? If so, get ready to reap the rewards of becoming a dedicated freebies hunter. It is said that there is no such thing as a free lunch, but if you are an avid freebie hunter, you will find that there is such a thing. Getting free groceries is one of the sweetest plumbs. Here are some hints and tips on how to get free groceries. Wouldn't it Be Great to Get Free Groceries? Yes! Of course, wouldn't we all want to get free groceries? Believe it or not, it is totally possible with a bit of creativity, ingenuity and planning. First, you must learn the art of creative couponing. What is creative couponing? It is exactly what it sounds like?you can use coupons to get some sweet grocery freebies. All you have to learn is how and where to use your grocery coupons. Here are some tips on using coupons to get free groceries. Watch Out for New Product Coupons New products are often heavily marketed with free or deeply discounted offers. Sign up for your grocery store's promotional newsletter or discount card program. This way, you will automatically receive discount coupons and freebie offers through the mail. Watch out for new products?these often come paired with new product coupons. You can often use new product coupons in order to match the sale price and get the time for free. You can use new product coupons to purchase food items, but they are often available for hygiene and beauty care products. Toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo and deodorant?all of these types of personal care products are constantly being revamped and marketed. Check the Clearance Aisle or Table at Your Local Grocery Store If you are an avid coupon clipper, there is a good chance that you already have a coupon stowed away for an item on the clearance aisle. Believe it or not, deeply discounted or marked down items are still eligible for coupons. Check out the clearance aisle in order to match your coupons with discounted items. There is a chance that you can get an item at a deeply discounted price, or yes, even for free. Seek Out Loss Leaders at Your Local Grocery Store What are loss leaders, and why can they be such good deals? Loss leaders are those items at your local grocery store that are currently selling at a loss. Loss leaders may vary from store to store, even when you are shopping at a chain store. Stores are often ready and willing to get rid of loss leaders. These items are often sold at a deeply discounted price. Be prepared to match these loss leaders with coupons in order to turn these products from cheap loss leaders to freebies. Don't Forget the Double Coupons Double coupons are the bread and butter of any motivated freebie hunter. Most grocery stores still honor double coupons, and some grocery stores even have promotional double coupons days. Search your store's ad circular and items for items that you can possible get for free by using double coupons. You will be amazed at how many grocery items you can get for free, or near-free, simply by taking advantage of double coupons. Don't Forget the Rebate! Rebate offers are another bread and butter strategy that you should employ if you are serious about finding free grocery items. Although you may not get an item for free right away, be patient and follow all the instructions offered by the manufacturer. After a few weeks, you should receive your rebate check in the mail. This is an easy way to make sure that you can get free grocery items.

The Ins and Outs of Free Writing Contests (free writing contests) Free writing contests are available by the thousands. They are virtually a dime a dozen on the Internet. No matter what your niche is in the writing community there is a free writing contests out there for you. How do you know which ones to enter and which ones are legitimate? That?s simple. You do what you do best-- research. While providing the story for the free writing contest will probably be the easy part, researching the thousands of available contests will be a daunting task. If this is un-chartered water for you, you have the start at the beginning. Finding what free writing contests are available. Grab a notebook or start a word document and list the contests that are available. Beside each contest name you will want to put what kind of writing they are looking for and when it needs to be done by. By doing this first you will be able to eliminate any that do not coincide with your writing niche or with your schedule. Now the free writing contest research begins. Finding out if a contest is worthwhile and legitimate is comparable to running a background check on a person. First check the contest website. Do they have all contact information available? Do they tell you what company is hosting the contest? If they are not, you will have likely found warning number one that it is a scam. So scratch those off your list or at least move them to the bottom until you can find out more information on them. Start asking around to colleagues and writers groups. Search the writing forums and the Internet scam sites. The Better Business Bureau is also a good place to look. Once you narrowed the free writing contests down to the legitimate ones, read the contest rules and regulations. Some contests require you signing over all rights to a story even if you don?t win. Are you willing to do this? Giving up rights to you writing is a lot easier to do when you are getting something in return. After you enter there is no going back, so make sure this is what you want to do. The final thing you need to look for is if the contest is just a cover up to get you to buy services or products. This does not necessarily mean they are a scam or don?t actually award winners. It simply means that they will try to entice you to use their critiquing services or offer you a book at a reduced fee that your work will be published in. Being published sounds like a great deal but is it a book that carries prestige that people are going to see? Many authors think that writing contests will launch their career into a successful endeavor. This is not the case, especially for free writing contests. Even winning the grand prize of a smaller known contest is not going to affect your literary journey. Even though they may not springboard your career, there are good reasons to join writing contests. You will get unbiased opinions and valuable feedback from the judges. If you make it into the higher rounds, editors could also see your writing. Ultimately whether you enter a free writing contest the choice is yours. Just ask you self if the time spent writing and researching the piece you choose to enter is worth writing for free in most cases. The critique and feedback may be the most worthwhile thing you receive from the contest. But then again the judges opinions are a dime a dozen just like the contests.