What’s in Your Networking Toolbox?
My previous articles on networking described the networking mindset. This month I will discuss the tools you will need in order to be fully prepared for your networking experiences and maximize the value of each networking event for you.
Anticipate what will be needed. Remember that your goal is to find a good networking partner whom you can help and who can help you. Prepare by making it easy for people to help you. Here are the ways you can do that:
The underlying reason that networking is effective is that, by making efforts to help your networking partners, you build your relationships. We all prefer to interact with people we know, like, and trust, in business, as well as in all other areas of our lives.
Mistake of the Month: Uncomfortable Introductions
“Hi, I’m Joe. I sell stuff. What do you do?”
People who begin a conversation this way at networking events are uncomfortable and don’t know how to start a conversation. We all feel some pressure to take advantage of the opportunity to meet people. This opener is actually a great opportunity to calm things down and make a good impression. Answer the question if you so choose, but the point is to get to know people, not just what they do. Rather than looking for clients, you are looking for relationships, so change the conversation to something more personal. Take time to get to know them and they will immediately become more relaxed. Try to always remember that, at networking events, you are building relationships, not looking for clients.
When engaging with a new or prospective client, one of the first things I ask for is a verbal assessment of what’s stopping his/her business from performing at the level to which he/she is committed. What’s in the way? Or to phrase it in its most casual and common form, “What’s the problem?” At some point in the conversation that follows, we come across some longstanding, persistent complaints.
When that person is in a leadership or management position, it is extremely common for one of the complaints to be about the lack of performance of those that they manage or lead (the same tendency shows up with the front-liners, but in reverse: they complain about lack of effective management or leadership). What frequently follows is how they know that what there is to do is to find the “right people”, and once that finally happens, their business will work as it’s supposed to.
In fact, I’ve recently been working with an upper-level manager of a medium-sized contracting services company who had just this issue. As it turns out however, getting the “right people” wasn’t the issue at all.
(This article is the first in a series of posts, co-written by Douglas Hoffman and long time ALS Client and friend, Lyle Katz. Lyle is a very successful mortgage banker and an expert in the fine art of generating opportunity. Lyle’s experience forms the basis of this series. At the end of each article, there will be an assignment for the next four weeks.)
Let’s start at the beginning with a definition for networking. This is not the usual definition, nor is it “correct” or “definitive.” It is simply the one that we will use for this conversation:
Networking is the deliberate building of a community for sharing information and services among business people. Ultimately, networking is about helping others.
In our experience, many people miss the opportunity allowed by professional and social gatherings.
“Existential analysis has the character of doing violence, whether to the claims of the everyday interpretation, or to its complacency and its tranquilized obviousness.” -Martin Heidegger
February is upon us, which means for most of us that we have been immersed in and surrounded by Valentine’s Day and all its trappings. This has been a time for many to buy cards, flowers, candy, dinner, and so on, while others resist and condemn various qualities of the holiday and even the holiday itself.
Either way, I’m guessing that no matter which group you’re in, your attitude and actions around Valentine’s Day are the same as they were last year. I bet that you could explain the background and reasons for your position, maybe even relate a compelling story of heartbreak and disappointment, or of true love and serendipity.
I dare you to risk everything, and file all of that under “everyday interpretation” and “tranquilized obviousness.”
Today, let’s do some Heideggerian violence to what seems so obvious. Rather than explore an abstraction, stand or ideal, let’s reveal what’s probably already happening now. In all our “complacency” we are probably, right now, killing off our relationships, and therefore our possibilities, opportunities and fulfillment.
How do we do such things? Well, I can tell you how I do it, and how thousands of people I’ve had the opportunity to coach, support and intimately interact with do it. If you have a willingness to be authentic, and a sense of humor, I think you’ll see yourself here as well. If not, you may want pass this by for now…