Today I want to talk a little bit about networking. Networking is absolutely crucial not only to expand your contacts to your sales, etc…but also to grow, grow in your skills and grow in your life. It’s a key essential ingredient to meet people that you can learn from and grow with. You can also grow just from the association. Growth may be in different areas:
- Like the business you’re trying to transact
- Growth of you as a person. You may want to learn new skills, develop better habits or you’d want to do new things.
- The third one, may be just for fun. Whatever extracurricular activities you may be interested it. To get to know more people and enjoy it more.
Remember the episode about the 5 people closest to you. About the fact that you’re the average of them. Jim Rohn talked about your income being the average of their income. It’s also your environment, your attitude, your opportunities, the way you talk or the way you speak, you’re the average of your friends.
Let’s talk about going beyond that. Who do you know and how do you know them? When it comes to networking start out with the people that you know, you can then expand from there. Think about what you need or do or grow in life. You can reach out to someone who may be a “warm contact”, someone that you’ve met a couple of times. Ask for advice in certain situations. You’ll need to realize that it’s not just about you. The person may be very busy but you can find ways to get to know them or introduce yourself or get introduced. You can reach out to them through Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Follow them and connect with them. Ask insightful questions. One of the key things, whether you’re networking or want to go on a date, asking questions and listening more than talking is essential. In successful interviews, the person who is successful is the one, 90% of the time, asking insightful questions. Not just talking about themselves.
Look at somebody’s bio, don’t take that as absolute, but look to see if their bio has something that you might be interested in. You may look to see if they’ve done something that’s interesting or they may know someone who can meet your interest.
These could also be things that you don’t want to do, things you want to avoid. It’s okay, but learn from people’s bios to get to know them and then approach them with a positive proper attitude. Approach them with those positive insightful questions but truly be interested in them. If you’re not interested in them and just looking to make your next contact that’s not good for them and they will perceive that difference. Most people that get jobs don’t really ask for a job, they may just go for an informational interview. The same attitude goes for making contacts.
Not all people are great talkers. Some are introverted and some are very shy. How do you get over that? I used to be very shy. That was one of my major weaknesses. Questions about that go back to that episode on weaknesses. Don’t accept these weaknesses. When you’re at the shopping mall, at the counter, when you see someone looking at something you’re interested in ask them about that. Just practice. You might be a Barnes and Noble, you may be going for the same magazine that someone else is looking at, and do you have a question that you might need an answer for?
- How does this magazine get into this topic?
- What would you suggest?
You can pick a variety of safe places to start talking to strangers – a shopping mall or even in church. At http://www.meetup.com/ or classes at school, whatever you’re interested in. If you go into something like this, you might want to learn more about speaking. Go to Toastmasters as one place. A good suggestion, go somewhere to a class or where you interact but don’t go with a friend. Why? If you do, you might end up just sitting there and talking with your friend the whole time. Other people might feel left out or that you’re unapproachable. Just go there and who cares if you act like a fool, who cares, you may never be back again.
Now for social media, if you have a business, you need to go on there and introduce yourself. Have a well written bio that says something about you. Make yourself somebody that is appealing. Don’t lead with a pitch. Don’t turn around and say, “Here’s my stuff, would like to give me your money?” Interact. Building the right social media connections can be long term. You can get a lot of mileage, a lot of learning and a lot of contacts out of the right connections on social media. Find groups online. If you’re interested in a piece of software, you’ll learn a lot. Go to the group, join it, ask questions but make sure your particular questions haven’t already been answered 6 times. Go through the frequently asked questions first so you don’t come off as someone who’s really not interested. Ask your questions and respond, thank, etc…you may meet some of these people at a local conference or local event. There again, you’re expanding your contacts. After you become somewhat good at it too and you’re helping others all of a sudden you’re becoming semi-authority. Get to know people ahead of time before you push your way into knowing them well. Google them, look at their LinkedIn profile or their Facebook profile. See what’s there about them before you contact them so you’re not asking obvious questions that are already on there. If it’s a Twitter follower, you may respond simply like that but that’s not the kind of thing you normally do.
Remember, networking and building relationships is a mutual exchange between you and the other person. You want that other person to think well of you, not just to make a sale. If you approach it with a good and positive attitude and one of reciprocation and helping of others you’ll build up a huge network.
- Start expanding your networking
- Set a clear strategy – decide why you want to grow those contacts
- Keep a record of your contacts – make sure you follow up (send notes, thank yous)
- Know your audience – know who are you talking to
- Engage your existing followers – start engaging them
- Ask members of your current network some questions – or connect with them
- Join professional trade organizations – nationally and locally
Some professionals have networking events that they attend. I don’t particularly like them. If you do, that’s wonderful. To me it’s more like…once you meet them they’re saying, “Here’s my card. If you’re interested, buy from me.” I believe you have to build a better relationship before that first.
If you’re like me, go to some strange place that you may not go back to again and just start meeting people. It may be the next town or just a few miles away. Do it online too just go and start meeting people. Good luck, talk to you soon and let me know what you’re thinking. Comment on the website, http://www.lifeunsettled.com/. I would love to hear from you.