Despite all the groups on Facebook, using them it’s not really networking. While it might seem that in this day and age of 24/7 technology, networking is sending a chat message on Facebook or leaving a comment on someone’s photo is important, it’s nothing like really networking. Social Media has its place, it’s great publicity, but it’s far from networking and it’s not going to grow your business or your opportunities. You need to meet people face to face and make it clear you are a real person, with a real business opportunity.
This past week I was reminded how important it is always be networking, always be ready to make a business connection. On occasion the PMI team gets a cabana at Moorea Pool at the Mandalay Bay, where we work and play under the sun. This week next to our Cabana was a group of guys celebrating their friends bachelor party. Well, in the midst of all the music, one of them knew who I was from my writing and introduced himself as Brian Waddell working for Thompson Cigars, one of the top companies in our industry and an offer everyone should try at least once.
He immediately started telling me about his business, what he does, how everyone in his company reads Performance Marketing Insider, and networking with me. After giving me a few cigars, he made it clear that we would keep in touch, we got a photo together and now we are connected on Facebook, Linkedin and via email.
This guy is only 24 years old, had been out partying with friends, but knew there was an opportunity right there it meet someone else in the industry and make an important connection.
With those thoughts, here’s a few key points to networking:
1) Never Forget a Name or Face: One of my first books I read on business was How To Win Friends and Influence People. If you don’t have it, pick it up. “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” LinkedIn and Facebook help, but nothing works as much as meeting someone and remembering who they are. People love hearing their own name and if you remind them that you remembered it, you’ve a business connection for life.
2) Don’t Try to “sell” anything. Missy Ward wrote a while back that, “Nothing will turn off a potential networking opportunity faster than if they are being “sold” something. I shut down immediately when I feel pressured into listening to someone push themselves on me.” Networking is about just talking about what you do, getting to know the person, finding similar interest often or even enjoying your beer.
3) Give your business card and ask for one in return. Nothing is more rude and shows that you think you are more important than them by giving your card to them, and not asking for theirs. Don’t put it immediately in your pocket, but do what the Japanese have learned to do, which is treat the card you give and receive with respect. Look at the card, and then put it in your wallet or a business card holder. Make it clear that the contact you made is important and that you appreciate that they shared their information with you.
4) Make it Clear You Are A Free Resource. Simply put, that you’re willing to help them on whatever they need, whenever. That you are not just selling something, but that as a member of the community, you are a valuable resource and willing to help them with their issues, provide advice or assistance. If you are more junior than the person, offer this as that you are willing to assist in order to learn more about the business, if you are obviously more senior offer resources and contacts.
5) Follow Up with Everyone. If you want to make it clear you care about your business connections, always do a follow-up email, even if you aren’t sure that the connection is useful. They’ll remember you, and more likely will recommend you to other people. If you really want to make an impression, send a personal handwritten note via normal postal service. Then they’ll never forget you.