My Network is My Net Worth.
Sweaty hands, dandruff dusted shoulders, cheap suit & eager to unload their story all over you. They’re networking junkies, and they’re trying their darn hardest to get another sale. Or maybe they just want to be part of the cool club.
Networking is like dating; if you’re too eager, it’s a turn-off.
By reading this article, you’ll be arming yourself with a tool belt that’s full of networking tools that can be pulled out readily on any occasion. It’s merely sales, an attraction method. You’ll naturally connect with a calibre of person you can learn from. Ultimately, you’ll drive business growth.
Networking is scary for many people and sparking up a conversation with a stranger can be confronting. There’s potential for awkward and uncomfortable silences, perhaps they’ll embarrass you, ignore you or there could be an overwhelming feeling that they think they’re better than you. This stuff happens and it can crush someone’s ego. Yes, I’ve been on the receiving end of this. Anyone that knows me personally would be surprised to hear that, but I’m afraid I’m not a natural networker.
Let’s start with a successful person you know, or better yet, someone that you don’t know.
Compliments are not usually handed out willy-nilly, so when you call this successful person suggesting that you’d love to buy them breakfast and learn from them, it’s quite a career moment for the recipient. Many business owners don’t get a lot of thanks or recognition, yet the majority of CEO’s are egotistical. Stroke those egos, just enough (not too much Mr sweaty hands) and allow them to give back, in the form of wisdom, to a less experienced entrepreneur.
It’s an easy phone call to make and you’re likely to create life-long friends as well as having an experienced brain to pick.
Ideally, when you make this call, you try and warm the lead up a little. You might mention that you’re a friend of a friend, or that you’ve been working with their company for some time now and heard through the grapevine that they’re a very talented person. Emails are not as effective.
Talented entrepreneurs want to give back by sharing their stories. Give them a sniff of your growth plans, and you’ll entice an interesting conversation. They’re addicted to brilliance, share yours.
GROUP NETWORKING When you’re at a group networking event, you’ll need to awkwardly force your way into a circle of people already in conversation and you may interrupt an entertaining story. It’s even more awkward if you hang back, if you’re too nervous about entering the circle, momentarily stealing the spotlight.
Here’s the plan
Get a name tag and write ASK on it. It’s a conversation starter that the other person will act on. It will create curiosity and this, my friends, is the key to networking – Curiosity.
Interrupt people’s circles without hesitation. Who gives a damn about people that are arrogant, rude or unfriendly. You’re filtering the room, figuring out who’s worth chatting with. Good people will welcome you and would love to hear about your cause.
Initially, someone will want to know what you do and your usual reply might be something that sounds a little bit like this.
I have a digital marketing company called Thinkroom.
A better reply that would create curiosity would be.
I grow businesses.
Your counterpart is going to be a little confused. You haven’t given enough information, so the person you’re talking to wants more and you now have their undivided attention.
You might then say
Think of it as business development or lead-generation..
Again, you’ve only given them a small amount of information and they might ask how?
The conversation above was using pulling methods rather than pushing. Curiosity is a networkers best tool, and it opens up much larger discussions about your business than when you try and force information on people.
I knew an impeccably dressed, general manager of a large privately owned waste organisation and he used to introduce himself as a rubbish-man. People knew that something was fishy; they knew that he wasn’t telling the entire truth and curiously asked for more information.
He used to say,
Well, what kind of business do you have? I’ll relate what I do back to your business.
Then he’d explain how he could add value to them — not a bad set-up for a sales pitch.
If you want to be an effective networker, take an hour and brainstorm your curiosity-strategy. No one else will so consider this your competitive advantage.
What can you say that will lead someone to want more?
How can you get them talking about their own situation, allowing you to add value?
Don’t be afraid of people that don’t make you feel welcome; they’re not worth your time. These people are close-minded at the time you meet them; they’re not your target market.
Remember, relax, be calm and dress casual-smart. Confidence is sexy!