How To Make Networking An Art, Not An Accident

Dan Flynn

PWN Founder
How To Make Networking An Art, Not An Accident


Just about all salespeople network. We attend Chamber of Commerce meetings, industry trade shows and business events of all kinds. And we're always ready to pull out a business card at a party or even a religious gathering. Networking is the preferred form of lead generation for most of us because it is inexpensive and relatively easy. Still, we all need to learn more from networking experts like Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon about How To Make Networking An Art.

Networking is more than a business buzzword. It's your vital connection to potential clients, new markets, business resources and support. Cultivating a circle of contacts will make your job a whole lot easier and lots more fun and profitable.

Think about the last six months as you answer these questions:

Do you look for ways that your resources and information can help others fulfill their personal and professional goals?

Do you know at least 100 people well enough (professionally or in the community) to call and say, "Hi, this is _____," and they'll know who you are and what your skills and talents are?

Do you belong to at least four professional or community organizations, and are you visibly active in at least two?

At social and business events, are you comfortable with introductions? Can you remember names? Do you introduce people to one another and do you greet the leaders, hosts and speakers?

When people ask what you do, do you avoid labels and titles and tell what you do in a way that starts a conversation?

Do you teach people the kinds of problems you can solve, so they can refer the right kind of customers and resources to you?

Do you use conversations as a way to explore for a reason to give your business cards out?

Do you say, "Thank you," often and find ingenious ways to re-connect, follow up and stay in touch?
How did you do?

Take Advantage Of Million Dollar Moments

You don't have to be born with the gift of gab to reap the benefits of networking. Focus first on the three "Million Dollar Moments" that happen over and over again at business and social events.

The first moment comes when you exchange names. Get good at remembering other people's names and teaching them yours.

The second Million Dollar Moment occurs when someone asks, "What do you do?" How you answer that question will either be an instant conversation starter or act as a conversation cut off.

The third moment happens when you hear the question, "What's new?" If you answer, "Not much. What's new with you?" you've missed the boat. Let's look at each of these moments to see what you can say that will teach people about your character and competence and build long-term client and referral relationships.

The Name Exchange

You can do a lot in six seconds -- send a fax, blow out the candles on your birthday cake or buy a lottery ticket. But one thing you can't do in six seconds is learn someone’s name and teach yours!

The next time you're at a networking event, watch people introduce themselves. Most people zip through the exchange in less than six seconds. We're not surprised that people complain, "I can never remember names."

Don't sabotage your greetings by saying to yourself, "I can never remember names." Instead, tell yourself, "I'm going to learn the names of five people here." Imagine that you meet a newcomer at the local Chamber of Commerce meeting. Challenge yourself to remember her name long enough to introduce her to someone else. If you remember it for three minutes, then you'll probably have it for thirty minutes . . . or even three weeks.

So slow down. Linger longer. Take turns. If the other person says her name first, repeat her first name in your greeting. Say, "Hi Theresa. It's good to meet you." Then, ask about her name. "Do you spell your name with an h?" or "Tell me your last name again." When you've really learned her name, then give her your name. Say, "I'm Linda. Linda Torvette." Give your first name twice. Provide a way for her to remember your name: "It's like Corvette but with a T."

Just as important as remembering other people's names is teaching them yours. Be ready to give a tip to help people. Elizabeth says, "Call me Liza -- my mom was a Liza Minelli fan." Jon says, "Jon without the h." Dawn says, "Hi! I'm Dawn, Dawn Marshall. And, yes, I am a morning person." Saying your first name twice helps people to really hear (and remember) it.

If you've forgotten someone's name, don't worry. Let your enthusiasm show how glad you are to see her again. Prompt her to give you her name again by saying your name. Or reach out with a friendly handshake and say, "Great to see you. Tell me your name again." Often, you remember what you talked about last time you spoke. Start there. Say, "Hi! How was your trip to New Mexico?" Above all, avoid the energy drain of, "I'm so terrible at names," or worse yet, "I've forgotten your name."

What Do You Do?

You will be memorable in the second Million Dollar Moment if you're ready to answer the question, "What do you do?" Tell your talents, not your title. Avoid jargon and acronyms. Answer in a way that leads easily into conversation. Briefly describe a recent success to plant a picture in the listener's mind of you succeeding, solving a problem or saving the day.

Instead of saying, "I sell telephone systems," say, "I take the mystery out of finding the very best phone system. I just upgraded Toyota’s system, and we cut the customer wait time from 45 seconds to 15 seconds."

This response makes it easy to get into conversation with you, and once you're talking, you'll find the perfect opportunity to mention the name of your firm as well.

What's New?

Avoid the dead end: "How are you? . . . Not bad . . . What's new? . . . Not much," routine and be prepared to be spontaneous. Come to events with ready-made topics you have energy for. Make a list of all the things you have to give (conversationally speaking) -- your enthusiasms, resources, expertise and attention. Then, listen generously. Be alert for needs so you can offer an idea, an introduction, a referral.

When Cindy heard Jim say he needed to find a really special gift for an important client, she faxed him the name of a gift service she'd used and liked. When Nancy told Leslie she was thinking about adopting a child, Leslie was able to refer her to a whole network of people who had adopted and knew the ropes.

Also, be prepared to talk about things you want to find, learn or connect with. When people say, "What's new," tell them what you're looking for: "I have a corporate client who mentioned he's looking for someone who can speak at his convention on leadership skills. Do you know of anyone?"

Some of the best business relationships start with conversations about leisure-time interests. Jane mentioned that she was looking for someone to house swap with in London. Amy gave her the name of her cousin who had married an Englishman, and that led to a swap the following summer.

In addition to the Million Dollar Moments, these tips for talkers will help you turn casual conversations into great connections.

Give More Than You Get

In one tribe in New Guinea, the highest honors go not to those who accumulate the most, but rather to those who give the most away. What a great model for building business connections! Get the focus off yourself, and look for ways your resources can help others get what they want. What goes around comes around.

Do More Than Join

Too often people think they have a network, because they belong to a lot of organizations. Too bad. You can fill out the membership form, pay your dues and even go to events -- and still not have a network. Networks are created conversation by conversation, exchange by exchange. They make who knows you as important as what you know and who you know. Who knows you so well that they say, "I've got to let Jennifer know about that," when they hear of a lead or resource you'd be interested in? Improve your business visibility by getting active in ways that show off your competence and character.

Avoid Cardboard Connections

Don't play bumper cars with your business cards. If you believe that people you "hit" will look at your card later, they'll wonder, "Who was that?" and toss it in the wastebasket. Instead, go for quality, not quantity. Pour your energy into finding a conversational connection -- a reason to exchange cards.

When you capitalize on the three Million Dollar Moments and build relationships with the future in mind, you'll make networking an art . . . not an accident.

Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon are business development experts who speak at more than 100 corporate and association events annually. Recent clients include Marriott, US Cellular, Booz-Allen, Yellow Freight, Sales Professional International and Insurance Marketing Communicators Association. They are co-authors of Smart Networking: How To Turn Contacts Into Cash, Clients, & Career Success.

Dan Flynn
Timberland Power Wash
Houston, Texas.


Moderator / Sponsor
Another recomended read me.

Here is a great article from the library archives on networking.

***Check it out! *** See top of this page.***:)

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