Continued from May 23, 2011
Series 2; Phase 1 – What is the difference between Networking and Referrals?
The Problem (Stating the obvious):
Many people can be described as either introvert or extrovert. The problem is that most people are introverts to some extent because our parents, teachers, and other loving and caring people told us to never talk to strangers. But, what they should have taught us was to know when to speak to others and when not to speak to others, because it does pay to talk to strangers. This is how they become friends, partners, and/or referrals.
Networking will naturally lead to referrals if you network correctly. Here are a few tips to networking:
- Overcome your fear of meeting people.
- Set a goal.
- Know how to network.
- Know where to network.
- Follow up.
Overcome your fear of meeting people.
Overcoming your fear of networking is going to require for you to step out of your comfort zone. You must be willing, able, and capable of meeting new people. A good way to start is by saying “good morning” or “good day” to people in your office or office building while waiting on the elevator or riding on the elevator. Or, by speaking to people in the grocery store or in your neighborhood. Also, you must learn to smile when you speak. It is hard to be mean to someone that is nice, kind, and smiling. Chivalry is not dead but has become computerized by the introvert. But, you cannot afford to stay behind the computer monitor and unable to pay your bills or take care of your responsibilities. You are competing with thousands of people for that ideal job or career. But, you must ask yourself, “How bad do you want it?”
Set a goal.
When setting a networking goal, it is not about how many business cards you get or the number of people you speak to but it is about how much information you have learned from the people you meet (quality versus quantity). A great way to do so is by having an engaging conversation.
Know how to network.
It is not hard to network but you want to make the most of your networking opportunities. It is true, you always want to make a good first impression. You should not linger with any one person but give yourself 5-10 minutes with each person. This means you will have 2 minutes of questions and 3-8 minutes of active listening. This is why probing questions are going to be your best tool when networking.
Here are a few ways to help start off your conversation:
- Hello, my name is _________. How often do you attend events like this?
- How are you doing? My name is _________. So, have you met a lot of people today?
- You look very familiar, which company are you with? By the way, my name is ______________. How are you doing today?
From that point, you want to find some common ground. You may talk about something strange going on in the news, in your local area, business, or in sports. Do not give your expertise on the subject but gage how interested the person is about the subject. Allow them to transition the subject to something they are more comfortable with and then learn about them. Especially if they talk about a subject you have no knowledge of and then begin to ask probing questions about the subject and how it relates to them.
After you feel comfortable or would like to end the conversation, request a business card from them. On the back of the business card write down the things you learned about them, the event you met them, and the date you met them. If they do not have a business card, then write down their name, company, and specific information you have learned during the conversation. Then excuse yourself and strike up a conversation with the next networker.
Know where to network.
First, you want to go to events that are relative to your current or ideal occupation. Then, you want to attend general business networking events or social networking events once you feel more comfortable networking.
Here are a few good places to network in the Plano, TX and Frisco, TX area:
- Red Carpet Mondays
- Dallas Business Club
- Dallas Blue: The Business Network
- ASTD Dallas
- Dallas HR (DHRMA)
- DFW Texas Recruiters Network (DFWTRN)
- Dallas Startup Happy Hour Meetup
- Lewisville, TX – Networking at Vista Ridge
- New to Dallas Young Professionals
Follow up after the events.
Here are a few ways to follow up (please add more in the comments section):
- Send a nice customized card.
- Send holiday cards, For example, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas (Hanukkah, etc).
- Call a few days after the event to arrange a time to meet for coffee or have lunch.
- Ask them, “So where else do you normally network?”
- Invite them to events you know about by sending them a note. They will return the favor.
- Give them a call and continue the conversation where they left off.
- Continue to ask yourself these questions:
- How can I assist the members of my network?
- What are their needs?
- What resources can I bring to them?
- What connections can I help them make?
There are many additional ways to follow up after a networking event or meeting someone in the store or in your neighborhood. Let us know how you follow up or some of your great ideas on how you would like to follow up after meeting someone new.
We will discuss tomorrow, Series 2; Phase 2 – How do you turn successful networking into referrals to secure your next great job or career?
Remember, we do not live to work, but we work to live.