Monday, December 26, 2011

Have You Tried Networking in a Vacuum?

That would be tough, wouldn’t it? You would be a community of one. Having no one to refer to and not knowing anyone who provides value beyond your individual capability would leave you exceptionally limited.

Networking success is based on interdependency between three specific individuals: a person with a PROBLEM, a person with a SOLUTION, and a person who CONNECTS the two. Understanding the role of these three networking stakeholders is fundamental to building value. It is important to know that at any moment, an individual can play each of these roles.

Let’s meet each of these stakeholders:

Person with the PROBLEM...three criteria
  • they have a significant need
  • they know (have admitted) they have this need
  • they are open to you making a connection to help them solve this need

Person with a SOLUTION...three criteria

  • they are the right/best resource for the PROBLEM
  • they highly value the opportunity to help the person with the PROBLEM
  • they value the relationship with the CONNECTOR and follow up diligently

Person who makes the CONNECTION...three criteria
  • they have confirmed that the person with the PROBLEM wants help
  • they select the best SOLUTION provider to refer
  • they are PROBLEM centered and only care about helping their friend/associate solve their PROBLEM - they are not concerned about helping the SOLUTION provider get business

You will recall last week we strongly suggested that it is important for each networker to build a bullpen of resources that can help solve the most high value challenges of our clients and associates. In doing so it important that we have a depth of resources in each discipline to make connections that are most appropriate for the person with the PROBLEM.

Next week: The three big challenges in networking.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Can You Know too Many Printers?

Several years ago, when I was running a networking group, a prospective member told me that regrettably he couldn’t join our group because he was concerned about knowing too many printers. This particular individual was the member of a group that required its members to pass all business leads to group members. The only time that they could pass a lead outside of the group would be if the discipline didn’t exist in the group.

This is a theme that I have heard repeat itself many times since. Sometimes it is for similar reasons to the story above and other times it has to do with an individual wanting to pass potential business to “friends” and having to many “friends” from one discipline might be hard to reconcile.

Saying you know too many printers is like saying you know too many brain surgeons. If you have a client or someone you value who has a brain tumor, do you want to know just one brain surgeon? What kind of resource would this make you? 
What would happen if you knew a few good brain surgeons well and your network could connect you to more?

Next week: Understanding the 3-stakeholders in networking.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Defining Your Destination

As we discussed last week, knowing who you want to meet by name or discipline is essential if you want to be effective at networking events.

Reminder: The goal of going to events is to figure out who to meet with one-on-one to for networking purposes not to prospect.

The best circumstance is to know who you want to meet by name before you walk into the networking event. To do this, you must first know:

  1. Who is expected to be in the room?
    • What type of group is it?
    • Who is the audience?
  2. What needs you have?
    • Are you looking to fill a key position?
    • Is a client of yours looking for an important resource?
    • Are you looking to expand your pool of centers of influence?
  3. Who you want to meet by discipline?
    • Which disciplines will be good referral sources for the needs that you have?
    • Is there someone at the event who will be able to introduce you to people from these disciplines?
If you have time and a good relationship with the host organization the next step is to:

  1. Get a list of the projected attendees 24-48 hours before the event
  2. With your target disciplines in mind, identify the individuals who you want to meet
  3. Call each target individual before the event to confirm their attendance and let them know that you are hoping to meet them - only about 70% of the people who sign-up for events show-up - calling the people who you want to meet ahead of time to assure their attendance will not only help you meet them at the event, but it will give you a ready made reason to follow-up with them should they no show-up

Even if you’re not able to get the projected attendee list before the event the knowledge of what disciplines you would like to meet at this specific event will allow you to:

  1. Kibitz with the host or event facilitators at the door to get introductions to the people who you want to meet
  2. Connect through other attendees to the people who you want to meet
  3. Review the name tags on the way into the event to find some people representing the disciplines that you want to meet, note the names, and make sure that you connect with them
Good networking is about making efficient and valuable connections. Knowing your destination at events will help you take the straightest line between where you are and building relationships with the key people who you need to meet.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Do You Know Your Destination?

Do you ever get into your car with out knowing where you’re going to get out? When I ask that question in a networking workshop the most common response is “very rarely.” Then why is it that you go into a networking event without a destination?
Serendipity can happen, but expecting it is generally not a very good business plan. Imagine depending on winning the lottery to pay your bills. It might be a long cold winter indeed.
So what is an effective destination at a networking event? Is it the buffet, the bar, your friends, or the comfy seating? The goal is to establish your destination for each event before you enter the room. Having a destination in networking is accomplished by knowing whom you intend to meet by name or by discipline.
Next week we’ll get into the specifics of defining your destination for each event.