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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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