We've all heard it often, "It's not WHAT you know but WHO you know." When you do meet the important "who", many of us often do not know the right things to say.
We’ve all heard it often, “It’s not WHAT you know but WHO you know.” I cringe every time I hear that saying, even though I know there’s a truth to it. A long life in business has taught me that.‚Ä® When you meet the right people you’re on your way to success the expression implies.‚Ä® But then when we do, many of us often do not know the right things to say.
Well guess what? It only takes a little common sense effort to come out ahead, although common sense is out of reach for some people.‚Ä® Consider these steps and you will find your networking to be much more effective.
1. Write down and rehearse the answer to the most important question that always comes up. “So what do you do?” Most people can only give a vague answer like, “Oh, I’m in real estate or advertising or shipping or retail etc. etc. etc.” This is boring, non committal and it kills a conversation.
ALWAYS translate what you do into an answer that offers an opening for a discussion or another question.
If you’re in advertising say, “I help my customers to make more money,” or “I teach my clients how to stay ahead of the market and the competition.”
There are many scenarios for many professions, but the bottom line is you want your counterpart to ask you the “how, what, when and where” and yes sometimes even the “how much”.
Learn to translate what you do for a living into something that…
a. deals with the solutions you provide.
b. outlines the benefits for your clients or customers.
c. intrigues your audience to ask more.
2. Be approachable.
Don’t be a rock or an island in the corner of the room, caressing your cocktail. Encourage people to want to talk with you. If a person seems uncomfortable, you can break the ice. That person will be entirely grateful. Besides reinforcing your current connections, you should always want to meet new people. Make it easy for these people to meet you.
3. Have a positive outgoing attitude.
If you can’t, then you should consider becoming a bookkeeper, programmer or a lab worker. ‚Ä®Also, stop judging people. You do not know who you are meeting. This person might be the person who can sell you something you really need, buy something from you, teach you something, or empower you. This person might connect you to someone who becomes hugely important to you later.
4. Ask questions.
A. Relate questions to specific topics. If you are at a seminar or convention, ask them what they think about the topic, the presentation or the organization sponsoring the event. Also, ask about their connection to the topic. Find some common ground.
B. Be alert in finding the hot push buttons. Does the person tend to talk about certain things? Ask questions about how they spend their free time. Learn about ambitions and concerns. People always enjoy talking about their favorite topics. Often, a person who spends all of the time talking about his or her favorite topic will assume common ground with you, even if that is not entirely the case.
5. Make sure to get contact information.
A. Get a business card. Ask if the person has a business card. If the person does not, ask the person to write his or her contact information on the back of one of your business cards.
B. Learn what their friends call them. If the card says, “Thomas,” ask whether he prefers “Tom” or “Thomas.” Many people appreciate this and it might save you some embarrassment later.
C. The world has become multi-cultural and multi-national with many foreign sounding names. Learn how to pronounce the last name. Some names are obvious, such as “Jones” or “Hardin.” However, some names make you guess, or worse entirely stymie you. This is your time to ask. If the name is complicated enough, practice a few times in front of that person. Very few people care enough to try learning how to say a person’s name, he or she will appreciate it.
6. Commit to contacting them.
Force yourself to commit to sending an e-mail or making a call. Give the person a notice that you will call or send an e-mail within a day or two. The other person might not care, but this person will probably meet other people. You will be one of the few who actually try to connect. Most people do not. You will separate yourself even more by meeting your self-imposed deadline. It will be the first step to show you are trustworthy and worth a relationship.
Last but not least…
7. Record contact information immediately.
Make sure to take the information that you get and record it, even if you have a business card. How often do people lose those? Not to mention, it will be easier to copy and paste information from a computer when you send the person something. Plus, it helps you realize how many people you meet. This list will grow quickly!
And when you follow up…
A. Remind them where you met. Not everyone will remember you immediately. Make it easier for the person. Let them know where you met. Maybe even comment on the event, especially if it was good.
B. Add a Personal Touch. Mention something specific. This can be a point within the conversation or a positive observation that you made about him or her. This will show that you paid attention. Sometimes, this will force you to think.
C. Ask A Question. Ask them something relevant. Sometimes, this will be easy. If not, ask them what they think of a general topic related to the event you attended. This provides them a reason to respond. If they do not respond, this will tell you something about that person, also.
OK, so it’s a little extra work, but you will find that the amount of rewards will massively exceed your effort in networking.