Networking At Its Best – Not Rocket Science
I was going to come up with a clever title for this, but in the end I think straight forward is best. I’ve been getting asked these questions for years…
How do you know so many people? How do you maintain so many great relationships? What can I do to be a good networker? My personal opinion…master the basic forms of courtesy and follow up. Do this and people will love you for it.
The world is a fast-paced, crazy place and everyone is multi-tasked to the minute. We’re all a little self important and consumed with what’s on our respective plates. In order to be effective building relationships, make it about them.
Here are some simple basics that work! The advanced course may cost you 🙂
- Come prepared. Do your homework and have a little background information on the person you’re meeting.
- Know your goal. Is it gaining more contacts, business advice, feedback on a product? If you’re not clear, it won’t be an effective use of that person’s time and you won’t get what you need.
- Honor the person’s time. Set a start/end time so they know how much time to block out for you. If you’re having a great meeting and it goes over, fantastic.
- Send thank you emails. After every meeting or networking opportunity, send a quick email thanking the person for his/her time. Do this within 24 hours.
- Always follow up. Especially if you’re the one who asked for something.
- Erase “busy” from your vocabulary. Everyone is busy. Never use “being busy” as an excuse for not being in touch or delayed in your response.
- Be on time. If you’re running late, let your date know at least 15 minutes in advance. Traffic is not an excuse. Always give yourself extra time just in case.
- Give someone your full attention when you’re talking to him/her. Put away your phone.
- Be nice to the assistants, front of house staff and interns. They’re the ones doing to organizing and calendar booking in the world.
- Spell the person’s name right. Not sure? It’s ok to ask. If you can’t get the name right, what else will you miss?
- Confirm your meeting the night before. That way the person knows for sure you’ll be there and doesn’t have to follow up with you.
Not rocket science right? But I’m amazed at how often people miss the simple steps. Here’s a perfect example of what not to do…happened to me last week. I promise I’m not making this up!
I met someone as a favor to a friend to listen to his marketing strategy for a clothing launch. We’d texted back and forth (him typing Kristen and Kriston) and after a few attempts, confirmed a day/time. He texted me when he was supposed to be there and said, “traffic is terrible, I’m so sorry”. He was 45 minutes late. Normally, I would’ve left, but I had work to do so I stayed at the café because it was conveniently equipped w/WiFi.
During the meeting, he told me his story and what they were going to do with the business launch. That’s great, but it didn’t help him any. He already knows his business. When I asked him what questions he had for me he didn’t really have any because he hadn’t prepared ahead of time. In essence, he wasn’t clear why we were meeting. It was a waste of time for both of us.
A day later, he sent a thank you email that included a request for someone’s contact info I had mentioned in the meeting. Points for the thank you, but when I responded with the contact info, there was no response or acknowledgement of that favor. Still none to date.
How likely would I be to offer assistance to this person again? And how likely am I to recommend him to my contact? The answer to both questions…not very likely. Do not be this person.
In summary, treat someone how you want to be treated. Check your ego. Show up on time. Give the person your full attention. Know your end goal. Be prepared and follow up promptly. Do this and people will want to work with you. They will remember you fondly as someone who is reliable and on top of your game.
Now off you go you smart, charming, attentive thing you…Best of luck and happy networking!