“Networking” sounds very sterile and machine-like. By renaming it to something like “meeting new friends” or “people I can help” it will totally change how you feel about attending an event and the results you realize.
What are you really doing? You’re meeting people to increase your friends and colleagues and grow your business. There’s nothing wrong with that. Let’s get this straight – we’re meeting people. Not robots or machines. Honest to goodness people with likes/dislikes, feelings, wants, hopes and dreams. Just like you.
Experiment with adjusting your mindset. Decide you’re going to meet interesting people and some of them may become your friends. Take the high road and ask them what they do? People love talking about themselves so listen with your full attention to determine how you can assist them. Easy peasy. No rocket science here. Tell yourself “I’m meeting people to learn what they do and determine how I can be of assistance to them”.
Here are some simple guidelines to help you relax, have more fun, and accomplish a lot more by listening and being authentic:
1. Be of Service – go in with the attitude of helping as many people you meet as possible. Ask what they do, and determine how you can assist them. Once you know how you can help, get their business card and write a short note on the back, in their presence, about what you’re going to do for them. Then respond within 2-3 days. Go in with a collaborative attitude.
2. Be Open – have an open heart and mind. Don’t prejudge anyone. Develop an explorer’s attitude and ask questions. Probe and learn as much as you can about them. Do this with the intention of finding common ground so you can help them. Say “yes” to any invites or opportunities that come your way. Some of my greatest referrals have come from colleagues in apparently unrelated businesses. You can’t predict what form success will show up in.
3. Be Mobile – get out there and meet people from as many different industries and organizations as possible. Use Meetups, Chamber events, “chance” meetings, etc. to build your team. Be the first to offer a solution. Don’t wait for the others to make the first move.
4. Be Prompt – Get back to your new colleague quickly – 2-3 days max.
a. An honest to goodness thank you card sent in the mail gets you noticed and remembered.
b. Call and speak to them live. Say it was great meeting them and you look forward to helping them in the future. Deliver your agreed upon service, recommendation, or lead quickly and professionally. Let them know you’re serious about meeting your commitments.
c. Send an email as a last resort. Again, do this within 2-3 business days max.
5. Be Persistent – talk is cheap. There’s a lot of “noise” out there and it takes a while to be heard and to cut through the “small talk”. The quickest way to be remembered is to “walk your talk” and meet your commitments. You’re always selling you and your product and/or service. This gets easier and easier with the more people you collaborate with.
6. Be Amazing – Always bring your “A-game”. Show up, be in the present moment and find a way to contribute. Help others realize their awesomeness and assist them in solving their problems. Take a load off their shoulders and put a smile on their face. You will be remembered.
Your reputation will quickly grow and people will be attracted to you because of your authenticity and collaborative energy. Your colleagues will grow and people will begin introducing themselves to you because of the excitement in your eyes and voice. Your attitude and energy are contagious.
When you look at it this way it doesn’t seem so sterile does it? This approach actually makes networking fun and easy. Go in with this attitude of making friends and helping others – then watch the magic happen.