What kind of networker are You?
Everyone who is in business has been told that relationships are important. Pre-COVID, we’d go to networking events. 100 people or so in a room trying to do “business”. So here are some patterns and observations I have.
- Most people talk to the people they already know. They deepen those familiar relationships but miss out on establishing new ones.
- Others are strategic. They are at the event to meet and connect with a short list of people with whom they want to do business. Then they leave. This is great because you further your goals for business. Yet, you don’t necessarily leave room for the unexpected connection.
- Then there are others who press the flesh and jump to sales right away. They often come off “thirsty” or desperate, and people blow them off because they ask for the sale too early without understanding the person’s needs in front of them.
- Others seem to be magically successful in networking. They leave the event with meetings, coffee dates, and follow up. So what are they doing? I think it’s a combination of listening, connecting, and knowing your current network and ideal client.
Relationship building takes time. But we have all met that person who we were in sync with and became fast friends. What did you do in that situation? How did you establish that connection?
And it took me some time to learn that you can “meet a lot of people” but you can only get to know one or two in a short time like a networking event. Having a pocket full of business cards in your pocket at the end of the evening is not necessarily a sign of success. Having made a significant addition to your network that feels good on both sides of the table, with good connections and potential for business on both sides. This is a great way to end the evening with ample opportunity for follow- up.
For me, I need to have a substantive conversation with someone about what matters to them to establish that connection (and remember your name). If I can help them with something, that is great! If I need something that they can help me with, that is great too. One of the most powerful experiences you can have in life is to be seen and heard. So that is my goal. To create that experience for a few people at an event where I see and hear them at their essence. But who do I pick? I do some wallflower observing at first. When someone catches my attention, I introduce myself and see what the Universe has to offer. Their reaction and behavior will determine if they get the juicy connected conversation.
Sometimes I work to connect people to each other in the moment while we are all standing around. When I have had 3-4 conversations, I make the connection that Mr. X has something for Mrs. Y. And Ms A has a connection for Ms C. It’s like matchmaking and it allows everyone to make a business connection which deepens the relationship with me and that person.
When I am on my game, grounded and clear about my goals, and have the energy it takes to make new friends, I am that person who is magically successfully networking at the event. At other times, when I am tired, I am happy to have an interesting conversation with one person and feel successful making one good new solid relationship.
Returning to In-Person Events
I was motivated to address this topic now, as we get back to in-person events. This is a reminder to be more intentional about your networking. Cast a wide net then find a few people at a time to really get to know them and their wants and needs. You know who you like to do business with, who your ideal client is, what your goals are. Share them as appropriate and learn about the connections you might have to offer for the other person. Let’s make some expanded connections this season for our mutual benefit.