6 Powerful Networking Strategies – A Professional Development Series
Have you ever seen that person at a business networking event who seems to know just about everyone? Or how about the person who arrives at an event only knowing a few people and by the end of the event has left an indelible, positive mark on everyone s/he has met? These types of people are amazing networkers. You probably leave events saying to yourself “I want to have that kind of rapport with people I meet at these events.”
So, what is it about them that makes them so successful? Is it because they are famous or notable before they arrive at the event? Do they have a unique characteristic that others find appealing? Is it something about their personalities? Do they wear cologne that draws people to them? Is it the way they’re dressed? Do they speak with a mysterious accent that others find attractive and captivating?
Well, some of those things might be compelling, but usually, these “serial networkers” have mastered the art of networking by using six basic networking tools that are guaranteed to connect strongly with people they meet. That’s right! Just six simple tools that everyone can use! These tools are available to all of us…we just don’t know about them and therefore, we don’t use them. So, let’s change that for you right now!
The six basic things that all great networkers do are:
- Make a lasting, personal connection;
- Get the other person talking;
- Actively listen;
- Maintain consistent eye contact;
- Demonstrate a “host” mentality;
- Follow-up within 12-18 hours.
That’s all well and good, but you’re probably wondering, “What’s involved in each of those six basics?” Let’s take a deeper look at each one in subsequent posts and discuss WHY they are important tools for the networking pro.
Strategy #1 – Make A Lasting, Personal Connection
When you meet a networking pro, he or she will introduce him/herself and then ask you for your name. If the serial networker is really skilled, s/he will immediately use your name in a statement back to you. That might sound like this: “Oh, Joanne, it’s nice to meet you.” If your first and/or last name is “unique” and not a common name found in American English culture like Mary Jones, John Thompson, Steve Kline, Doug Smith, etc. they will ask you if they pronounced your name correctly. I often have this issue when I meet people for the first time. They normally pronounce my last name incorrectly. Usually it’s because they weren’t listening carefully.
If they didn’t catch your name at first they may ask you to repeat your name so they “get it right” and then they will try it another time or two just to be sure they are saying it correctly. Why is this a big deal? Because networking pros know that one’s name is arguably his/her favorite word. Doesn’t it sting a little when someone doesn’t pronounce your name correctly? Consider how good it feels for someone you just met to take the time to make sure they are saying your name correctly. This creates a lasting, personal connection between the two of you. The true test as to just how skilled the networking pro is will be whether s/he remembers your name the next time you meet![Three personal examples: My brother once met someone in the service industry who asked him how to spell his last name. When my brother spelled it for her (P-L-A-A-G) she said “oh that can’t be right!” and insisted it was P-L-A-G-G; Similarly, I’m often told that my last name MUST have an “F” in it because German words often have a “P” and “F” together. Hmmm…I was a German minor in college and not that many German words start with Pf”! I’m also constantly told that my name “should” be pronounced with the vowel sound used to pronounce the name of theSAAB car brand. Really? My parents and grandparents chose to NOT pronounce it that way. It’s MY name – I know how I want you to say it!]