There is opportunity to network everywhere. Always keep your eyes and ears open. Wherever you are, look and listen for people who are on the cutting edge of their business. My experience has been that those who are the most successful are the ones who are most willing to share their expertise with others.
If you are thinking… “They would never want to talk with me,” then fear is your enemy. Be bold and unafraid. Successful people love to share their success. If you act like the typical networker and approach them trying to pitch your product or service, you will most certainly get a cold shoulder. They are likely to quickly move on. However, if you’re smart and focus all your attention on learning more about how they got to where they are, you are likely to find people who are committed listeners, people who will give you the time to get to know them better. Success rarely come to you… you must go to it. You will be amazed at what you can learn from that.
Be alert. Watch for signs that they may be too busy to take time now, and offer to arrange a time to get together some other time to learn more of their success secrets. It’s important to learn to know the right moment to approach them. Be fearless. The point is to ask lots of questions and focus on them – never on you.
The truth is that some people don’t take the time to even think about being considerate of someone else’s time. If you are going to be successful at networking consideration is a prerequisite. Never allow your lack of self-confidence to show when you are networking. That usually puts the brakes on and stops you in your tracks.
I am reminded of a young friend, fresh with his degree, who sent an e-mail to the President of a company requesting 15 minutes of his time to learn more about his road to success. (Sometimes you have to start at the top!) It worked!
His polite aggressiveness and fearless approach caught the attention of the President who referred him to HR, who – in his first interview – hired him on the spot. I’m sure that being referred by the President probably helped, but it was his sincere interest in learning more about being successful that was the clincher.
There is nothing wrong with jumping into a huge networking event with lots of opportunities to connect with and engage with new people. But it’s more than that. I’ll say it again: Networking is always and only about building close business relationships. That what makes it work best. Smart people know that it takes time. Business networking is no quick fix for someone who needs to make their sales goal this week.
You wouldn’t walk into a Chamber of Commerce meeting and expect that all 150 people in attendance would run up to you and order your product or service. You have to mix and mingle, have conversations, exchange business cards, request time outside of the event to get together and begin to develop a relationship.
At any networking event it’s important to begin to circle successful, relevant people, get to know them, share interesting information, provide value, demonstrate expertise, have conversations, and grow connections. Along the way we learn (provided we are circling smarter people than ourselves – and we should), we grow, and in time we will get high quality, qualified business referrals.
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Networking Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. 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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