A friend of mine, a 2010 guest on Heart & Soul, asks: Why is it that two equally ambitious and hard-working entrepreneurs end up with different results—one experiencing amazing business growth while the other goes out of business? Sheila Savar answers her question in The Power of Networking. Success is all about networking and building relationships.Toward that end . . .
My goal is to attend at least one major event a quarter and at least one smaller local event a week. If you have already identified your target market (the people you’re meant to serve), then look for functions where “your peeps” hang out. Time is valuable so spend it wisely.
If you’ve not yet identified your target market, networking is a perfect opportunity to experiment. Observe: to whom do you naturally gravitate and who naturally gravitates to you? You want to work with people you like! Try various groups on for size and see how you feel being with them. Do they inspire you? Uplift you? Get your creative juices flowing?
Sheila’s book is full of networking dos and don’ts and strategies, which I wholeheartedly recommend. My favorite tip of all time is a little jewel I learned decades ago from my father. Whenever I would head off to the Naval Academy for a Sunday afternoon dance (referred to as “Tea Fights” before USNA went co-ed), Dad would remind me to have three questions tucked away in my brain—three questions to get the midshipman talking about himself. It worked like a charm!!!! I never had to fret over a lull in the conversation. Never.
When you focus on being interested rather than interesting, you have the opportunity to learn all about your new acquaintance. Her struggles, challenges, victories, interests—valuable information as you assess how you might be able to serve her now or down the road. Perhaps you’ll unearth a wonderful joint venture opportunity for the two of you or discover you’d be great referral partners. Listen and learn with genuine curiosity and a servant’s heart. It will change your perspective on networking, believe me.
My friend Bryn Johnson, a 2011 guest on Heart & Soul, is another staunch advocate of networking. She lays out a plan before attending each event to make sure she meets the people she needs and wants to meet . . . and has something to talk about when she tracks them down!
By the way, my introverted colleagues insist you don’t have to be an extrovert to enjoy networking. Just be strategic about which events you choose to attend and, as Bryn suggests, make a plan. (Follow my father’s advice and you’ll never have to worry about keeping the conversation going!)
May you build a powerful network of meaningful, heart-centered connections.
I’d love to know — what’s your favorite networking strategy?