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I was recently asked by a friend (who I met networking) to share my knowledge on networking… what would I tell someone new to networking that might help them succeed and want to continue…here is my answer:
I like to “connectwork” (not my original term, but I LIKE it!). Here is my short answer… Have fun, be relaxed and be SINCERELY interested in others.
Look for ways you can help them. Give first, ask questions, get to know them, build relationships. My favorite book on networking is “The Go-Giver” by Bob Burg, which basically says that people do business with people they know, like and trust. You can’t rush this or fake it… at least not for long. Ask lots of questions to get to know them beyond just what they “do”.
Don't pounce on them with your sale or opportunity - this is where most people go wrong. I've seen people come in and immediately hand out their fliers. I once did a presentation on networking and on asking lots of questions, and at the end, the organizer of that group said, "Nancy is right! After I ask 3 or 4 questions, I know how I can hook them into my deal" - NO that's NOT what I'm saying! You are asking questions to get to know them and they are getting to know and trust you.
Your goal at the networking event is to meet lots of people and start the relationship process. On one extreme, you (usually) don't want to spend the whole time talking to just one person; on the other extreme, you don't want to go home with a stack of business cards and no idea who you spoke to. Follow up, especially with those you would like to build a relationship with. Meet for coffee, connect on Facebook or LinkedIn, re-connect at future events, see who you can introduce them to.
Ask them how you can help them, or who is a good referral for them. Most will reciprocate, but don't do it just for that reason.
Have fun! I have also met people who have told me if they go to an event and don't get business out of it right away, they don't go back... you never know where business will come from, and if you are truly interested in other people it doesn't matter if you get a sale from them! If you are just there to get a sale that will show through and you will drive people away from you.
Network from inspiration not from desperation! Enjoy the process not just the result.
See you soon! Let's meet for coffee!!