Happy Friday readers.
Recently an industry friend of mine asked me for some help with his business. He asked me to coach him how to network better. I explained that to be a successful networker you have to put in the time and effort, it’s essentially a second job.
Although I wouldn’t call myself an expert in networking, I am quite skilled at it. My friend Dave Sherman, who has written books on networking, is someone I consider an expert in this area and I learned a lot about the art of networking from him and his books. Dave would say, ‘it is called networking for a reason, it’s not netsitting”. Building a good network takes time and energy. There will be times you may not be very polished and you may even make a fool of yourself but that happens. After time you become a better networker.
I will give you an example.
As many of you know I live in Mesa, AZ but work in Madison, WI. Yeah, the commute is pretty tough, so I don’t make it there every week. Over a period of 5 months I have been there for maybe 8 weeks total. During these visits to Madison, I have attended approximately 4 networking events. From there I was able to create relationships with people in the local business community. As a result, I have built a network of people who are interested in what we are doing at Infratactix and who can refer business to us. By the way, this network started with 5 people and it has grown to about 12 people in just a few months.
So, I didn’t build this network overnight, but by getting to know people and letting them know who I am and what I’m about, it built up quicker than you might imagine. You see, people will always do business with people they like and trust. If they don’t like and trust you, the chances of getting any business out of them is rather slim.
Now, back to the story with my friend who asked me for some help, I told him that he needed to have 4 things which are outlined as follows:
- An elevator pitch, not a sales pitch. Your elevator pitch should not tell someone what you do but rather what you can do for them
- Be engaging. Put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to make the first move, kind of like dating.
- The ability to walk into a conversation as if you were part of it the entire time and break the ice. This might sound a bit rude but it can be done tactfully. Especially when the person you have identified that you want to talk to may be engaged in a conversation. This could be the best way to get to them.
- Finally, and I feel this is the most important, just be yourself. Don’t try to be something or someone you aren’t. Don’t try to sell from the first hello. Give people the chance to get to know who you are and get to know about them as well.
When I was coaching and consulting I wrote a lot about networking. I feel that being a good networker is important to business, friendships and life. If I had never networked with this friend, he would have never been able to ask for help and I would never have written this blog.
I hope that those of you who are having trouble networking take these tips and work on it. Once you nail them down, go to a networking event and try them out. Remember that you won’t always hit a homerun the first time at bat but keep going up to bat. You will be surprised how much better you do the next time.
All the best in success and a very Happy New Year