What do you think of when you hear the word “networking”? If you are most people, that word has a negative connotation based on your experience. If you keep going to networking events, have a bad experience and feel they are ineffective, than go out to another event and not change anything – well, it’s like that saying, “insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.”
You need a new definition of networking. One that isn’t based on transactional exchanges with strangers or brief stilted conversations meant to quickly screen everyone you meet. These limited definitions aren’t working for you and won’t get you the results you’re hoping for. For many people, the phrase “what’s in it for me?” is top of mind when they are at a networking event. If you are approached by someone with this frame of mind, you would feel like they were quickly screening you to see if you were worth speaking with further and then being chummy to get something from you that they need. Even if you offer them exactly what they are looking for, you won’t feel a bond with them or the desire to stay connected.
Harvard Business School researchers found that this type of “instrumental networking” made people feel dirty. Those who felt this way then avoided networking and it had a negative impact on their job performance. What if it wasn’t so transactional? What would it look like if you changed your definition of networking?
I want you to imagine that you had taken to heart all of the networking tips I’ve shared thus far through this podcast. Let’s paint the picture of effective and inclusive relationship-building.
To get started, you take the time to get clear about your goals for networking and identify a few specific outcomes you are working towards. A networking event is recommended to you by a colleague because they know your goals and have attended the event a few times. You spend some time looking over the organization’s website to get a sense of who might be in attendance and what the structure of the event is like.
Since you know what you’re looking for and who you’d like to meet, you can quickly determine whether this event holds any potential. It does, so you put it in your calendar and schedule time a few days before to do further research and within a day or two after to send your follow-up messages.
The time set aside prior to the event allows you to Google the organizers, presenters, awardees, and anyone else you think might be attending. Armed with this information you are getting quite excited about the event tomorrow night and go to sleep thinking about all the possibilities.
Before heading to the event you review your Gmail canned responses to see if any of your follow-up email templates need to be updated and to remind yourself of the various projects you might bring up depending on who you end up speaking with. You also double check that you have business cards with you and that they will be in easy reach.
You arrive at the event just as it is getting started, which gives you a few minutes with the organizers before the crowd shows up. They ask how you heard about the event and you mention your colleague and one of your priority goals for attending. That sparks a thought for the organizer who says they will make an introduction for you when so- and-so arrives. Feeling more confident you go to the bar and have light conversation with a few people while waiting for a drink.
One of those conversations leads to being invited to meet other people in the room. You are aware of your body language and make an effort to have an open stance so others can join your small circle of three. As others join your circle you acknowledge them silently and when there is a pause in the conversation you briefly fill them in about what is being discussed. Appreciative that you did this, they are interested in chatting with you.
At one point, you find yourself in a conversation with only one other person and you are momentarily nervous about how to wrap the conversation up gracefully. Then you remember you can ask for introductions, “I don’t know many people here. Is there anyone you think I should meet?” Using this method you leap frog through this crowd getting into better and better conversations because you are more confident and are being connected with the kind of people you really want to meet.
Before each conversation comes to an end you try to think of something to offer, even a small suggestion about an app or a restaurant. Then, if the conversation is going very well, you ask, “I’m trying to get more familiar with this industry. What other events would you suggest I attend?” Both this question and the one I mentioned a moment ago to wrap-up gracefully gives the other person an opportunity to be a connector and share knowledge. This is a great way to make them feel good about themselves and it also helps you either navigate the room or create a list of other possible events to attend.
As you collect business cards, you jot notes on them so you remember what you spoke about or what you offered to follow-up about – and you turn the corner down for anyone you want to prioritize following up with. Since you drafted several email templates for follow-up messages, set aside time for follow-up after the event, and had a system to track which business cards were a priority – you easily send all of your follow-up messages within an hour. You make a note in your calendar to send a quick note to these folks again next week with an article that you think they’d like or another resource related to your conversation. If it’s someone you think has the potential to be a client you add them to Contactually so you are sure to not lose touch between events.
You look up the dates of the events that were suggested to you and again set aside time before and after the event for research and follow-up. When the next event comes up, you reach out to the folks you met who you think might be attending and you tell them you hope to cross paths. When you do cross paths you are on your way to building a relationship that goes past simple transactions. Repeat this process and you’ll see results.
You’ll have stopped wasting time networking and now focus on effective relationship building. Now you have a new definition of networking.
ABOUT ROBBIE: www.robbiesamuels.com/about
Business Growth Strategy Coach
Robbie coaches inspiring entrepreneurial women in their 50s and beyond (and a few awesome men) to grow their impact and income by building an audience before launching new revenue streams.
WHO YOU ARE:
You want to have a greater impact and increased income. The problem is that there are so many options for how to build your business that you can feel stuck, overwhelmed, and like you’re running out of time.
The reason options are overwhelming is that you’re looking at them as a series of disconnected steps when to make the most of your time, you need a strategy that connects only the most important and highest impact ones.
You know that if you try to do everything, you’ll accomplish nothing. This means, to achieve your goal, you have to invest in a strategy to put time on your side.
WAYS ROBBIE OFFERS SUPPORT:
As a relationship-based business growth strategist, Robbie will work with you one-on-one to design a year-long plan that consists of three 12-week sprints, each followed by 4 weeks of reflection/assessment, rejuvenation, learning, and strategic planning. This will allow you to sequence your goals, create momentum, and leverage your limited time.
Have a project that you want feedback on or need assistance with a specific strategy? He offers half-day strategy sessions.
Already selling but feeling stuck around how to increase your revenue? Sign up for a one-day mastermind with fellow entrepreneurs to break through to the next level.
Ready to dig into your network to validate a solution you’ve been working on to see if you can build an audience for it before launching? Sign up for 12 Weeks to Create Your Irresistible Offer program.
Want accountability, support, and guidance as you implement your strategic plan? Learn more about his year-long Wake Up Your Network mastermind program.
These are not right for everyone; they're personalized offerings and are priced accordingly.
WHAT MIGHT YOU WORK ON?
In his coaching work with entrepreneurs, his clients focus on the areas where they'd like to grow, which may include:
- Creating a strong sales conversation framework
- Building your referral network
- Lead generation through a relationships
- Growing your visibility in your industry
- Increasing your ability to attract the right kind of clients
- Identifying and launching a minimally viable offer
- Breaking through whatever bottleneck is holding you back from getting the results you want and deserve
- Becoming a published author and marketing your book successfully
- Improving your virtual presentation skills
LEARN MORE AND SCHEDULE A CHAT: www.robbiesamuels.com/coaching
Robbie is excited to support you in reaching or exceeding your goals.
Interested in booking Robbie to speak? At www.robbiesamuels.com/speaking you’ll find video clips and a description of his talks.
Watch his TEDx talk “Hate networking? Stop bageling and be the croissant!” at www.robbiesamuels.com/TEDx.
- Connect with Robbie on LinkedIn
- @RobbieSamuels on Twitter and Instagram
- New to his website? Start here
- On the Schmooze podcast archive – weekly since July 2016!
SIGN UP for his free weekly #NoMoreBadZoom Virtual Happy Hours – www.NoMoreBadZoom.com
Affiliate Links: Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links above are “affiliate links”. This means that if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products and services I use personally and believe will add value to my listeners. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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