Networking 101 - Make It Easier for Yourself
I know. You’re thinking, isn’t it redundant to write some advice on networking when those reading this are most likely networking already? They are using Linked In, right? That’s what I thought as well.
Some context. I started this new company about 6-7 weeks ago. It has been a whirlwind of coffees, calls, emails, meetings…even some billable work!! I have re-introduced myself to people I have not worked with in over 15 years and I have pounded the pavement to get the message out. I have honestly been humbled by the number of people who have said “yes” to a conversation.
But, one very interesting aspect pops up way more than I thought it would is, “geez, I wish I could network. I am not very good at it.” The first time someone said this to me, I pushed it off as an isolated incident but then it kept happening.
Call it what you want – I call it simply “having a conversation”. There does not need to be expectations and certainly no pressure. Sure, you want to find a connection or define an opportunity but getting yourself, all worked up is going to build a barrier to reaching out.
Here are some tips AND if you are reading this, share more ideas. It’s all about starting a conversation!
1. Just do it. Reach out and ask to meet or talk. Most people will be flattered to be asked for 20 minutes of their time. Everyone needs caffeine. Make sure your reason is clear and if you can, say “so and so told me you had a great background in ABC. I’d like to learn more”
2. You’re not asking for a job. You’re learning, sharing, chatting, building rapport, getting feedback, seeking advice…. you get the picture.
3. Make it Convenient. Remember, you are asking for their time – even if it is a good friend or colleague. Try to fit around their schedule instead of thinking yours is the most important one.
4. Get to know people. I personally can’t just talk business. In my travels, I have learned that North Americans are some of the only people who culturally find it more difficult to get to know someone personally at the outset. I think it is more interesting AND I’ll bet you more often, there are common interests.
5. Get one more name. My goal every day or during every meeting, is to get one more name. A new contact. A potential new client. Ask for an introduction.
6. Be prompt. Be polite. Do what your mother taught you. It is surprising how often people don’t listen to their Mom’s advice.
7. Say Thank You. No really – say thank you. And for the great meetings, send a personal note (yes, via the Post Office). It is more powerful than you can imagine.
Have a great weekend. Share your stories, Happy “Conversations”.