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Do You Know How To Network?

I used to hate networking meetings because they seemed like business card collecting contests.  I always feel cheapened by the “Wham.  Bam!  Thank you, Ma’am” Chamber of Commerce meetings, where the person of the moment looks over your shoulder, for someone more interesting, while you compliment her on the color of her blazer.  I usually have two too many drinks at these and wake up with a fistful of business cards and a craving for aspirin.  Often, when I call said peach-color blazered Amway rep, to follow up, she doesn’t remember me at all.

I’ll be damned if I’m not…memorable !

I still like meeting people so I started my own gig, a few years ago.  It’s been mostly successful because I’ve been at the center of the group and have blanket permission to call or email everyone who attends.  More importantly, they remember me when I call.

I’ve branched out on Meetup and started attending new networking mixers.  Here are a few tips I’ve picked up, which has increased my efficacy, and helped me develop more genuine connections with strangers:

  • I don’t try to meet everyone.  In fact, I often ask people where the real estate agents, attorneys, accountants, and wealth advisers are.
  • When I do meet someone, I use Michael Peak’s strategy of asking “What are you working on?” and then asking “How can I help?”  Those two questions reveal more about anyone’s business than the traditional “What do you do?” and “Who’s your best target client?”  Asking those two questions has opened some doors for me.  Ironically, although I reject the Chamber crowds, I met Michael at one of them.  It’s plain to see why he made an impression on me.
  • I set a goal of meeting three people and ask for permission to call or visit with them.

That’s my trick.  I know who I want to meet when I attend, ask those two questions, and try to make three new friends at each gig.  I reject the card collecting and try to go deeper with the conversations.  Oh, I almost forgot; I relax and have fun, too.

So…what are YOU working on?

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  • 13 comments

    13 Comments so far

    1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Real Estate Feeds, cd and others. cd said: Do You Know How To Network? http://bit.ly/esSLlY [...]

    2. Ken Brand January 7th, 2011 6:47 pm

      Nice share, thanks. Oh, Advil works pretty good too.

    3. Ann Cummings January 8th, 2011 5:35 am

      Hey Brian – great tips in this post and I appreciate the links to those 2 videos. I belong to a couple networking groups and I love those 2 questions. From now on, I’ll be asking those as well. Thanks for sharing them – I’ve a feeling those 2 simple questions will make a nice difference going forward.

      ;-) Ann

    4. Brian Brady January 8th, 2011 6:44 am

      Glad you enjoyed it, Ann and Congratulations on your engagement to Jim. He’s a lucky guy (and I’m sure he knows that).

      Good advice, Ken :)

    5. Robert Worthington January 8th, 2011 9:38 am

      Brian I like that you call people afterwords. I just learned something myself. Networking is about building a relationship as opposed to taking a biz card. Great humor is the beginning as well.

    6. Bradley Shaw January 8th, 2011 10:35 am

      Good Sharing Brian, I also hate networking meetings.

    7. Sean Purcell January 8th, 2011 6:09 pm

      I’ve watched you network for years Brian, and it’s always an inspiration. From my advantaged vantage point, I’ll share something most people probably don’t realize: what makes Brian so effective at networking (and lead generating) is his continuous effort to improve at it. He is forever exploring ideas, fine-tuning actions and asking himself “How can I do this better?”

      Bravo Brian!

    8. Anita Clark January 9th, 2011 3:09 pm

      Working on my WP blog and improving my SEO on my main site…thanks for asking. ;-)

      The network meetings I’ve gone to are a waste of time…as Robert said above, it should be about building a relationship, NOT getting a card with a promise to call/act.

    9. Jarrod Frenzel January 9th, 2011 10:30 pm

      These are great pointers. I think that is a great idea to organize your own networking events. I have gotten out of the habit of intentionally networking. This is one of my goals in 2011, to make a conscious effort to build a larger people network around me. I’ve been looking for different avenues other than the bar.

    10. Meg Hurtado January 10th, 2011 11:32 am

      You seem to have a really good handle on what is, for many people, the most nerve-wracking-but-necessary evil of the 21st c. I love the idea of a low-but-deep quota – really get to know just three people – that’s the way to do it.

    11. Paul Viau January 11th, 2011 4:46 am

      I hate networking events unless I want to meet someone in particular as well. I like your idea regarding having a goal before you attend. At-least that way you can honestly say the night has been a success or not.

    12. Patti Mullen January 12th, 2011 10:35 am

      “Networking” in this sence isn’t the best networking, and neither is LinkedIn, other social media platforms, etc. Real networking is doing excellent work for clients and building your network off of your own business, in my opinion. Not some magical connection you land at a convention or meeting.

    13. Brian Brady January 12th, 2011 2:48 pm

      Patti you couldn’t be more correct. Earning referrals comes best from doing good work. It’s been my experience, that to close 4-5 transactions monthly, from strictly referrals, an agent would need to have 500-600 past customers. What to do until then?

      Networking with other professionals isn’t some “magical connection”, though. It requires hard work, practice, a game plan, follow up, and continued nourishment- kind of the same qualities exhibited in a sales transaction :)