If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times. If you think networking is about meeting as many people as you can, telling them about 6ix9ine Net Worth yourself and handing out hundreds of business cards, you are wrong!
So what is networking? Forget the traditional definition so I’m not even going to mention it. In today’s world networking has more to do with connecting and genuinely caring about people than adding them to your address book until they can do something for you.
The real question then, is how do you connect with people? Here are my 7 no-fail steps to help you.
Develop a genuine interest in people. Some of the most interesting and fascinating people are the people who might not usually catch your networking eye. That guy in the polo shirt and jeans when everyone else is wearing a blazer and slacks, come on! Surely anyone who does not know how to dress properly is not worth knowing. Pssst! That guy might be so sure of himself that he won’t be bothered by convention, and he might just be the one you need to collaborate with on your next big project.
Really connect with people. I always smile when I hear or even find it necessary to use the popular term B2B (Business to Business). Don’t look now but business is done P2P (Person to Person). Have you ever seen two businesses make a deal? No but you’ve seen their owners or some PERSON else making those deals.
Why not try getting past the titles and the CV and really find out who a person is at a deeper level? You might discover that their purpose resonates with yours and that you can work together to create or further something that is beneficial to both of you and others. Before you know it, you’re making real deals and actual money and that’s so much more rewarding.
Check your image. You can smell them from way across the room (I can anyway!) Those people at an event whose body language says “I really don’t belong here. If I had the guts to say “no” to my very ill mother, I’d be on the golf course with my crowd. BUT since I’m here, I might as well give out a few business cards.” Building relationships and connecting requires warmth, openness, empathy, friendliness and being easy to approach. Be genuinely interested in the people you meet and listen to their stories. Being stiff, aloof and only concerned about handing out your business card will not cut it in connecting. Remember, you’re building relationships for the longterm.
Develop the necessary skills. No, I am not suggesting that all you have to do to connect with people is to go where they are. Connecting effectively requires you to develop some key people skills and these three top the list. Listening allows people to tell you their stories and you to show that you’re genuinely interested in them. Small talk or the ability to talk to anyone about anything is critical to the process. Self-confidence is invaluable for enabling you to approach people and start conversations. After all, connecting is about building relationships.
Learn to give. If it doesn’t come naturally, you should really learn how to. I don’t mean the big $500 corporate gift. I mean the idea to help a person improve something, the free reports on your website or the information-packed one-hour strategy session. Giving excites me big time. First of all it’s just the thing to do. Secondly, what you give truly comes back to you ten-fold. Don’t worry about the “how”, it just does. Giving also builds trust and people like to do business with people they trust. One of my colleagues has connected me to so many people and some of those connections have been truly profitable. What a gift!
Learn professional etiquette. Please! Many of your connections will come through attending events, so learn how to conduct yourself on these occasions. People remember people who are gracious, polished and treat them with dignity. Furthermore, if you know how to handle yourself in social situations, you are perceived as being equally competent in business circumstances. (Don’t ask me why!)
Do follow-up. But do so with some thought, remember you’re connecting and building relationships. What I do is to send the person some snippet of information, a card or one of my many free resources – something beyond a mere e-mail. I mention our meeting and highlight what I would have found particularly interesting or engaging about the encounter. You guessed it, as many as 8 times out of 10, the other party responds and the foundation is laid.
Connecting requires you to be open to business 24/7. I’ve made connections in the checkout line in the supermarket, on flights to foreign destinations, at networking events and via the internet.