There is so much emphasis placed on networking. Everywhere you look, articles and career experts are advising people to do it and do more of it. What I have discovered working with coaching clients is that most people don’t know how to network well to yield meaningful results.
Here are some Smart Solutions Strategies™ to network so significant results are returned.
There was a time when business cards were a great way to connect with people. Everyone has business cards and most of the time, your card is placed in a pile with other business cards. My advice is don’t overlook the importance of connecting through relationships.
First Smart Solution: You have to do your homework when you connect with people. This requires attentive listening, studying what the person does and learning how this person can help you boost your career or business. Look for the intersection between what you want to achieve in your career and business and how this person can assist you. I call this staying in the question. Spend time understanding if this person can really connect you to other people in the business world or can assist you directly. Many people who can help you won’t and sometimes people who appear as though they can help you, can’t. Wasting your time and the other person’s time is just that, a waste of time.
Second Smart Solution: If you find a person who can assist you in your journey, the responsibility is upon you to take the next step. Let the person know you want to follow through on the conversation you’ve just had. If you feel a strong connection or have a congenial relationship, extend an invitation to breakfast or lunch. If schedules are tight, ask for a specific amount of time, perhaps a half hour to further the conversation. I never suggest asking for an hour because for busy people, this may be overwhelming and create push-back. Keep it short and be prepared to present your request.
Third Smart Solution: When you’re setting up the next step, be prepared to share what you’re interested in doing, learning or presenting. You want to provide the answer to WHY you are requesting this meeting. Presenting why you’re requesting this person’s time prepares you, as well as sheds light on how this person can or can’t assist you. Also, don’t be shy in asking if there is someone else who needs to be in the meeting. Be smart about saving time and being strategic.
In Review: When casting your net in the world of networking, do your homework by being an attentive listener. Listen to clues if the person is the right person with whom you need to network. Secondly, once you find the right connection that can assist you on your journey, be assertive and set up additional opportunities to connect with your new connector. Remember, it’s your responsibility to follow-up and follow-through. Lastly, be prepared to express why you want the connection. This is your opportunity to present you.