Networking. Pain or pleasure? That depends on how you look at it and how you dance with it. It’s like a blind date or speed dating. It can go horribly wrong or you can meet the client of your dreams. I have been on many, probably a few too many, blind dates in my life. I never did try speed dating, the concept was a little too speedy for me. After my own personal research on the sport, and it is a contact sport, going in blind was the problem. No strategy, no plan of attack, no goals or objectives. Except to land the ‘big one’.
Well I finally did land the big one, both personally and professionally, all because I had one goal in mind; relationship development and connection. That’s it. I changed my mindset going in. Instead of ‘how can i tell this person everything about me in the first 15 minutes, I went in wanting to know more about the other person…over time. I know blind dates aren’t exactly the same as networking but it’s close. That first date is something most of us can relate to.
So networking in the professional sense…first off, think of networking as relationship development or connections. In fact change the word networking to connecting.
It’s about connecting with people, building relationships, developing the know~like~ trust factor.
Get to know someone first, like them, then you can trust them. Its not about how many business cards you can get, its about quality connections.
We all know this, but we don’t necessarily know how to do this.
Here are a couple of do’s and don’t to effective relationship development!
Your TO DO List:
- You must have a strategy. It needs to be centred around these four components:
connect, communicate, engage and influence
- Go in with the mindset of this: focus on the other person and how you can be of service to others. Do not go in with the mindset of You…how you will benefit. Think of yourself as the host of the event..make sure everyone is taken care of.
- Attend events that target your audience.
- Have 3 goals or objectives before going to the event: For example when i attend an event, I target Women in Business and my goals are to connect, communicate, engage and influence. I want to begin the relationship building process and I want to establish the know~like~trust factor. Or more simply; connect with women I don’t know, solidify existing relationships and to learn about new products or services.
- Go alone to events or mix and mingle. Never hang with your buddy.
- Engage in conversation with people you know who are already talking to someone you don’t know! How easy is that? Introduce yourself and ask them about themselves before speaking about yourself! Build repertoire.
- Ask anyone you don’t know what they do. Listen to them!
- Always remember their name!
- Find out how you can be of value to them, how you can help them in their business, how you can be of service to them. You can post their events on your FB page, offer testimonials, make connections to help them grow their business…do this and ask for nothing in return.
- Follow up! This is key. Events such as this are fruitless if you don’t follow up. This should be done within 48 hours.
- When someone sends you a message, respond to them within 48 hours to acknowledge their efforts. Plus it’s just rude. Don’t shut the door with the attitude; ‘they just want my business, what’s in it for me?’. Change your mindset to ‘they want to build a relationship with me’.
- Have fun for goodness sakes!
Naughty NO- NO’s :
- When you first meet someone, don’t talk about yourself first.
- Don’t push your card, wait till they ask you for your card.
- Don’t run around the room dropping off your card or your expensive brochures on someones seat. They will not read it.
- Don’t rush the conversation so you get your turn. If you don’t get your turn to talk about you, that’s ok, these events are not business on the spot events, they are building relationships, and these take time.
- Don’t Ask for their card until after they are done speaking, hear what they have to say first!
- Don’t tell them what you do till they ask. If they aren’t interested enough to ask you, or they don’t ask for your card, they won’t be a good connection. If you run out of time and they ask for your card, go ahead and give it to them, but don’t be in a huff if you didn’t get your turn.
- Don’t interrupt someone when they are talking and don’t talk when someone is presenting!
- Don’t talk with your mouth full.
- Don’t ask them questions when their mouth is full.
- While eating, just enjoy eating. Share the quiet with someone, it is a great place to be in when you are comfortable with the quiet.
- Don’t forget your business cards ;( talk about lunch bag let down.
- Don’t be shy! Get our of your comfort zone for goodness sakes!
I can and will write a more detailed seminar on how to effectively network. In the meantime I suggest you read the book by Joe Sweeney; ‘Networking is a contact sport’.
Touch trumps technology, so go ahead and touch someone.