3. Build connections by achieving goals
To be effective as a networker, you need clear goals so that you have a reason to move the conversation forward. Without them, it is challenging to find things to talk about because your communication lacks purpose. It's also challenging to exit conversations because you don't have a reason to. Help yourself and everyone you meet by being helpful and action oriented with your communication. Here’s how:
STEP 1: BE PREPARED WITH CLEAR GOALS
What is your purpose at this event?
- Generate leads for my business
- Build my network of connections
- Looking for a job
How do you know if you’ve accomplished your goal?
- I introduced myself and (my product/service) to 25 people.
- I met 15 people and learned about what they do and connected with them on Linked In.
- I met 4 people in the industry and have scheduled follow up calls with them.
STEP 2: FORWARD THE MOVEMENT OF IDEAS THROUGHOUT YOUR COMMUNITY
Some people tell me, "I'm really more about making quality connections and not about the number of people I meet."
Here's my question for you, "How do you determine if someone is a quality connection?"
Most people will say, "because we have good conversation" or "because it led to a sale."
I challenge you to consider that every connection you make is a quality connection. As humans, we gravitate towards people who are like us. That's good for making friends, but it's not a good strategy for building your network. A strong network includes people of all different skills and styles. By getting to know people who are not like you, you expand your reach and become more influential within the network.
If you don't have a need today, you might in the future. Build your social value by helping others find the people they need to find.
STEP 3: IDENTIFY YOUR ROLE IN THE NETWORK
Networking is not just about your goals. The purpose of networking is to build strong connections within a system. In this case, the system is a community. You need to have goals in order to participate. You need to help other people achieve their goals in order to build strong connections. Here's how to do it:
Once you are in a conversation, figure out your role. Are you a connector, sales person, or a customer?
- Connector: You don’t need what the other person is promoting, but you might know someone who does.
- Sales person: You have something that the other person needs.
- Customer: You want or need something that the other person has.
STEP 4: LEAD THE EXPERIENCE
Communicate your role and direct the conversation forward.
In the CONNECTOR role you can actually say, "I will connect you..."
- “I don’t need what you sell, but if I meet someone who does then I will connect you by giving them your card. Nice to meet you.”
- “I don’t need what you sell, but I know someone who does. I will connect you by sending an email introduction. Enjoy the rest of the event.”
In the SALES role you want to create an easy next step for the other person.
- “Do you have your schedule with you? Let’s set up a time to talk so we can both get back to networking.”
- “Do you know anyone who needs (my product/service) and will you connect me to them?”
- “I understand you aren’t interested in (my product/service) right now. Can I send you information on (my product/service)?
In the CUSTOMER role it's better to be clear and direct then to try and be nice. Sales people learn from what you say and how you react. You are actually more helpful when you are honest.
- “Yes, I’d like to speak to you about this. I’d like to meet some other people here tonight. Can we set up a time to talk?”
- "No, I’m not interested in speaking with you about this. Maybe sometime in the future. Right now I’m focused elsewhere."
- "You can send me information. I’m happy to look at. However, I’m not in the market for that at this time."
If you get stuck, tell the other person your goals and ask them about their goals. Doing so makes it easier for both of you to achieve them. Effective networking requires you to identify your role so that you and others can move forward. Lead the experience by speaking up first. Clearly communicate how to others can engage with you and how you can help others move forward as well.