Many people have no idea of what good networking is. They think it’s a business card exchange or going to an event and counting down the minutes till they can leave. That’s not networking. That is just going through motions, and it has little to no long-term value.
Networking is a lifelong commitment and it’s how people build and sustain their business. If you only network when you need to, people smell that desperation and they will flee.
“Don’t wait until you need to network to start networking again.”
What are the hallmark activities that define great networking? Glad you asked!
1. It’s NOT about you. Networking is only about relationship building, and it means that you must listen more and talk less. If you make the conversation about you, then it will be the only time you speak with your victim.
2. Relationship ONLY. As I not so subtly alluded to in rule one, networking is about building relationships. It takes patience. It takes perseverance.
3. “Every conversation is a networking moment“. I always say that “every conversation is a selling moment” and also a networking moment. Too often networking is confused with being out of work or having to go to a meeting. Most effective networking meetings happen in an informal setting, such as a one-on-one meeting over coffee. Networking is everywhere and all the time—at the office, at the supermarket, and at the ballpark.
4. Be Present. When you are networking, you must be present. If you are not present, and it’s obvious that you are somewhere else, you will not have success. If you are in a bad place, stay at home.
5. “Todd’s Rule of Two.” Never interrupt two people who are talking. Never insert yourself or otherwise disrupt the conversation of two people. Never.
6. Your Value Proposition has BIG Value. How you choose to answer the pivotal question, “What do you do?” is a huge deal. It’s how you grab someone’s attention and differentiate yourself. It’s NOT your title, where you work, or your verbal resume. No one cares about your title; they care about connecting. Your “what do I do” must come from your gut. What do you feel you do? What would your clients say you do? Your answer should be short (7-10 seconds), memorable, “agnostic” (not too limiting), and engaging. No conventional identifying markers that are essentially buzz words or meaningless. You want to prompt questions and conversations. For example: ” I build sales culture” or ” I help people find their purpose.” These are a higher level than your title and are meant to inspire people to respond, “Tell me more.”
7. “What can I do for you?” This is the way you end a networking conversation. Rule one, it’s not about you; it’s about them.
8. Follow Up Matters. You have 24 hours to follow through on your promise to do what it is you committed to doing. Did you promise to send some information or make an introduction? Follow-up and follow through immediately, or they will forget you.
There you have it: eight tips for networking that guarantee success. If you would like to hear more, check out my ToddCast on Sales Culture on iTunes and right here: http://toddcohen.libsyn.com/great-networking-skills
Todd’s dynamic and motivational keynotes and workshops are based on the foundation that regardless of career path or position, everyone is a salesperson. Since 1984, Todd has led sales teams to deliver more than $950 million in revenue for leading companies including Xerox and Thomson-Reuters. You can also see Todd’s articles on Sales Culture in many magazines, trade journals and the Huffington Post.
Follow Todd on Twitter @SalesLeaderTodd.