“Where should I be networking?” is a question I’m often asked by my clients and audiences. Other variations are “How often…?” “Where…?” “Which networking groups should I join?” And on and on. Good questions, of course, but here’s my BEST answer: Networking happens wherever there are people and opportunities to offer a greeting and spark a conversation. You just never know when or where that will be – the gym, the dog park, the corner coffee shop, the barbershop or beauty salon – so it pays to be ready all the time. Here are a few tips that might help as you venture out in search of conversation and potential connections that could change your life:
- Show up. Success begins with getting out there and being present — regularly.
- Make connecting & re-connecting with others part of your regular routine. And not just when you need to. Fit it into your routine. Make it a habit. Build good karma and start conversations boldly.
- Launch your own “Good Morning Project”: For instructions click here.
- Make someone’s day: offer a compliment. A sincere one of course. I try to do this with every checkout clerk I encounter. There’s always something positive to point out. They love it.
- Relax. Be authentic. Be yourself. Connecting isn’t about “selling” or impressing others. It’s about being yourself. Have fun with it.
- Set an intention. Have a positive purpose, goal, or affirmation in mind as you head out to any event or meeting – even as you run errands. “I feel great today” is a good start. “I love meeting interesting people” is another. Come up with one that puts you in a positive frame of mind and even states an intention.
- Take a tip from the world of journalism. Ask open-ended questions beginning with “what” or “how”: What brought you here? What do you like best about this group / these meetings? What does your typical day involve? How did you get into this field? Do you love it? What’s new in your world? What’s next on your horizon? How can I help you? What would you do if you could do anything?
- Be interested, not interesting. Listen and give the other person your full interest and attention. It makes them feel great — and they’ll remember this!
- Think quality, not quantity. At a social event or networking “thing”? Don’t wear yourself out trying to dart all over the room meeting everyone (unless it’s a really small gathering). It’s better to make two or three excellent connections than to have 20 shallow, meaningless interactions with the obligatory and often banal and very unmemorable business card exchange.
- Don’t gossip or share private information. This reflects more on you than anyone.
- Be positive. No whining, complaining or negativity.
- Be fearless. See someone you’ve always wanted to meet? Go up to them and strike up a conversation. Don’t gush, but tell them something you admire about them. Keep it brief and sincere. They’ll love it.
- Create (and “hug”) your Top 25 List. These are your top 25 contacts in your database. The people who bring value, ideas, business, referrals, and “energy” to your world. Stay in touch with them. Ask what you can do for them. Send them clippings, cards, useful emails. Ask them for advice – it’s flattering!
- Express gratitude regularly. Whether it’s simply counting your blessings as a way to energize yourself each day or sending thank you notes to those who have made a difference in your world, giving thanks and showing appreciation is an excellent way to energize yourself and your relationships.
- Protect your reputation & don’t burn bridges. Whether it’s making a good first impression, staying true to your word, making quality referrals, or always striving to do the right thing, a stellar reputation is priceless. And even if a connection goes nowhere or a relationship sours, don’t do or say anything you’ll regret later. Time heals all wounds – and, as one of my mentors used to say, “Time wounds all heels.”
In Austin on November 19? Join me at Seton Cove for a fun, interactive and highly inspiring evening workshop on how you can leverage the power of your Vision, Intention & Goals to streamline and refocus how you manage and experience the Holiday Season, plan for 2015. or even fine-tune your life, networking, and career. Click here to details. I’m also doing a lot of coaching with women facing or moving through transitions: job hunting, career changes, new businesses, empty nest, divorce, retirement, or even moving to a new city. Email me at patti[at]intentionalnetworker[dot]com for details and to set up a free call to discuss your challenges.
Patti, you’re the real deal! Can’t wait to see your next book (and love “Intentional Networker”).
Julie, thank you so much! Next book definitely in progress! Watch for it in 2015.