Let’s get something straight! Kamikaze is a crazy strategy. You attend a networking event and nothing happens. You become disappointed. If you continue to crash and burn when you network perhaps you should just STOP networking!
No need to perpetuate the pain, disappointment and embarrassment of knowing that how you are networking isn’t working. Just STOP!
Next. . . take a deep breath! Right now! Do it. (Breathe) Take a deep breath and continue reading. Feel better?
Here is what I know. Networking must excite, engage and enrich you. If it doesn’t, you are doing it wrong! Networking for the sake of networking never works!
Most newcomers to networking tend only to think about the sales or referrals that they will get from their network. That is never what your original intent should be. Read on. . .
Face it. Networking can become a little hectic when nothing seems to be happening from the effort you continue to make. It’s time to try something new; discover a tolerable alternative to what you have been doing. When you stumble do you feel that all eyes are upon you? They are. Well, not all, but certainly those who are close by. You may notice that people begin to walk the other way. That’s never a good feeling.
Many networking events are laced with people who want to talk your ear off about how great they are. I usually listen for a few brief moments, then politely move on. That is not why you go to a networking event. People want to know whether you are someone to do business with, have friendship with, create projects with, exchange business leads with in the future. Be someone worth their time. Be memorable (in a good way!).
It’s time for you to become the “Networking Ninja!” A much better choice than Kamikaze. Agreed?
One of the keys to networking success is to be a communicative, approachable and open-minded person without prejudices who is absolutely intent on exchanging information with other people. Here is my personal definition of business networking:
Networking is. . . using your creative talents to help others achieve their goals as you cultivate a network of people strategically positioned to support you in your goals. . . expecting nothing in return! ~ Larry James
The spirit of professional networking is to exchange information and by doing so profit from your connections. However, an absolute “no-no” of business networking would be to “only” establish business contacts with people who can only help you. In effect networking is a mutual admiration society, meaning – your intent should be to help each other.
“When you meet people for the first time at networking events, show interest in the person rather than the business. If you find that there is a genuine rapport and areas of interest in common, you have the beginning of a relationship that can lead to referrals, support, valuable introductions and more. Move away from the opening question “what do you do?” and find out more about them personally. Successful networkers sell through the people they meet, rather than to them. Work on the basis that if they like you and need what you offer, they’ll buy from you anyway.” ~ Andy Lopata
Here are a few networking tips that work:
Find a fresh way of projecting a confident self-image. Introduce yourself differently. Be “other-focused.” Never lead with business. Focus on helping others, NOT promoting yourself. Make it all about THEM. Never “think” the words, “What’s in it for me?” Show a genuine interest. Find out what they need and help them make a connection. Ask, “If I could do one thing for you to help what would it be?” If you “click” with the person you just met, there will be time for that later. Patience is a virtue. Results come later – to those who wait – and the results will surprise you and exceed your expectations. Building close, personal relationships with others takes time. AND. . . that is what networking is really about!
It’s best to be brief in your conversations, until such time as the two of you agree that you want to talk further and at length. You can always follow up and meet outside of the meeting. Dig. Ask lots of questions. Find out from others what you wish they knew about you.
If the meeting is a ‘sit down” meeting, don’t sit with people you know. Make some new friends. Never drink too much at a meeting. The last thing people want to hear is slurred speech. Develop an intent on being a strong relationship builder! Be interested in those you meet. No fast judgements. Just listen. The more interested you are in them, the more interested they are in you and the more likely they are to help you.
If you make a mistake, begin again. Networking “mess-ups” happen at every event. But now you don’t have to be the one messing up.
Embrace the networking experience. Get back to the basics. Use all of your senses. Our senses are the physical means by which all living things see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Generally speaking we are most aware of four of them when we network.
• Sight: Look around. What do you see? Watch for “wallflowers.” They are those people who are often standing by themselves. They often feel uncomfortable and do not have the courage to start a conversation. I’ve met some very interesting people by being the first to reach to shake hands and introduce myself. Keep an eye out for people who are the leaders of the group. Don’t fear the big shots. They are in a position to introduce you to the people you need to meet. Look in the other person’s eyes when you are in a conversation with them. Observe: listen and watch.
• Hearing: Listen to others as you mill around the room. If you overhear something interesting, stand close and wait for someone to invite you into their circle. You don’t have to say anything, just wait. Being included int the group usually happens when those who are talking back up a bit which allows you to step closer. If you have something interesting to contribute, speak up. Listening, really listening is a skill that will push you ahead of the rest. Listen more than you talk. Listen for something that demands a compliment.
• Touch: There are about 100 touch receptors in each of your fingertips. Be sensitive to touch when you shake someone’s hand. Mae sure your grip is not too tight and not to soft.
• Smell: Our sense of smell is connected really well to our memory. There have been times when I avoid some people for the obvious reasons. 😉 Be sure to do a small dash of perfume or cologne before you attend a meeting.
“Get yourself in the right frame of mind – make sure you are feeling positive about the event, looking forward to meeting new people and having interesting conversations with them. If have the attitude that you don’t really want to be there, it will show in your body language and tone of voice.” ~ Diana Marsland
Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! Invite Larry James to speak to your group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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