Presented by Deborah Schwartz Griffin
My definition of networking is to be a creative connector by helping and serving other people by actively listening for what’s important to them and how I can help. Then, connecting ideas I heard, to people I know, and following through, following through and following through. It’s not just “knowing” people that makes one a “creative connector” it’s what you do with what you know that makes you a master at it.
BEFORE YOU GO
Know yourself and your strengths. This is your Power.
Before going into any networking situation, understand first and foremost your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and what differentiates you, so you can tell your story with confidence, when asked.
Step 1: Preparation is key. Before attending any networking event do your homework and understand the following:
- Audience: Who is attending, and do they meet your target market for your business or your personal needs?
- Size of Group: How large the group is, determines how much time you will need to spend with each person.
- Arrival: Get to the event early so you have the time to meet people and build relationships.
- Time: Plan to balance the time you spend with each person (depending on your goals and the number of people in attendance) with the time the actual program will start.
- Subject Matter: Does this event really make sense for you to attend, based on your company or my personal Mission, Vision, USP, Strategic Objective, Pressing Need or Concern, Current Priorities, etc.?
- Cost: Does going to this event meet my budgetary goals? Cost Benefit Analysis is key.
- Ask yourself: Will going to this event make a difference for me personally, for my company or for how I can help others (can be part of your personal or business goals as well).
DURING THE EVENT
Step 2: Helping and serving other people. Focus on building a relationship through being a caring person that is genuinely interested in what is important to the individual you are talking with.
Step 3: Ask questions. There is no greater way of showing the person you are talking with that they are important and that you care by asking questions that show you are trying to help. These questions can focus on their company mission, vision, objectives, USP, etc. By asking questions about them, you are uncovering both their personal and professional needs. When this rapport is built and set only then does it make sense to exchange business cards.
Step 4: Take notes. This is controversial in that some feel it is not appropriate to take notes and brainstorm at your first meeting, however, to contact them the next day and get into specifics, taking notes is important. Jotting down a memory point that will help trigger your call for the next day is helpful to get into a recap of what you learned about them, and how you can help them.
AFTER THE EVENT
Step 5: Follow through, follow through, follow through.
- Review your business cards and notes and call the individuals you met when you said you were going to call or email them. There is nothing worse than not doing what you said you were going to do.
- Work your list if they said they wanted to help you. If you don’t work your list, you are missing an opportunity as much as they are.
- Integrity and honesty are key. Unfulfilled promises are the worst. If you said you were going to call or email them, then do it. The absolute worst is not returning phone calls or emails.
Focus on building a relationship that lasts for a Reason, a Season or a Lifetime!
The Must-Read List:
- Power Netweaving, by Bob Littell
- Mr. Shmooze, The Art and Science of Selling Through Relationships, by Richard Abraham
- Power Networking: 55 Secrets for Personal & Professional Success, by Donna Fisher and Sandy Vilas