I’ve seen it all. Your boss says, “I want you to get out of the office and network.” Or you are the owner of a small business and you want to get more customers. Well, don’t just sit there. And heed the following warning: don’t walk up to people and say, “Hi, I’m Joe, I work at XYZ Bank. Would you open an account with us?” Or “Hi, I’m Kathy, I’m a realtor and looking to list homes in your area, can you give me three names of people you know who are selling homes? I’ll call them and tell them you sent me.” I call this “get in your face networking,” it doesn’t work and many times it is offensive.
But before you go, how about we learn a little more about effective networking and becoming a super connector.
1. Networking means you start or continue to build a relationship (trust is the single most needed emotion that can turn a friend or colleague into a someone who will refer you).
2. Make sure they know what you do – people don’t refer you for many reasons, maybe they don’t like you or maybe they don’t understand what you do – when you are into the relationship and you know they like you, take the time to share what you do.
3. Refer others first – this is the big one. Give first, refer first, and take time to really get to know them well enough to help them first.
4. Just get together – when building the relationship, make sure you get together with no sales, no business, nothing but “I want to get to know you better,” find out what makes them tick and what common interests you have.
5. Chemistry matters – be able to identify people you will not be able to refer. If there is no chemistry between you and nothing in common, give it up and spend your time nurturing the relationships that matter.
6. Choose your venue carefully – don’t waste time going to places that don’t attract quality entrepreneurs; generally people like to go to cool venues, with upscale food and beverages and, if there is a speaker, make sure the speaker and the topic are of interest to you.
7. Follow up – this has to be the number one reason where networking falls apart. You can’t find the business cards, you don’t remember what your conversations were and if you wait too long they won’t remember you.
We all know “You can’t stay in the corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” This is a quote by the famous Winnie the Pooh.
You may want to consider leaving the corner of your office and becoming a super connector today.