Networking… to some just the mention of this word makes them tense up and break out into a cold sweat. Others? Well they make sure they have business cards. I have to admit that I have never been the latter… until I shifted my thinking.
I stopped thinking about networking and started thinking about… building relationships with no other agenda than to get to know THEM. Not… can this guy give me business or can this lady introduce me to more important decision makers? That’s easier said than, done, I know because we are taught that in order to get business we have to NETWORK… so what do we do? We work our way through the room handing out cards and looking over each persons shoulder for our next prospect. Sound familiar? If you haven’t done it you know someone who has.
So what’s the alternative? Go to events with the intention to meet 1 or 2 people… and get to know something about them. Find a connection, something that will create another encounter – an email, a phone call or a lunch. You never know where a relationship could lead. Then you must follow-up… period. That won’t be so difficult since you are only going back to your office with 1 or 2 cards… not a handful that will sit on your desk that you never follow-up with.
Next I stopped attending 1 or 2 events a year of MANY organizations and started being a regular attendee to only 2 organizations… I went every month. My circle of new friends started to expand and people introduced me to others. Repetition… Repetition… Repetition! It works.
Build relationships by listening and getting to really know people. Shoving business cards into people’s hands will never work no matter how often you do it. YOUR card will be the one sitting on someone’s desk gathering dust.
Black Pearl: For those who need a little help thinking of questions that start conversations my colleague Cordell Parvin has a fabulous list of 19 questions that are sure to get you started.