Sunday, June 24, 2012

Your Summer Networking Reading List

Many professionals look to refresh and rejuvenate their skills during the summer by reading books that offer best practice advice. If you are looking to continue your networking growth, here are a few outstanding books that I’d recommend:

  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey - This is the granddaddy of all professional self help books. Covey’s focus on building long-tern relationship and interdependence are foundational for networking.
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie - For nearly eighty years this classic has helped professionals learn how build the most valuable asset in networking, TRUST.
  • Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You’ll Ever Need, by Harvey Mackay - If you understand the title, you may not need to read the book. Do it anyway as Mackay weaves in wonderful stories and suggestions that will help you.
  • Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success One Relationship at a Time, by Keith Ferrazzi - Another book where the title gives away the punch line, but you’ll want to read this for Ferrazi’s techniques and to truly understand the value of breaking bread.
  • The Purple Cow, by Seth Godin - Anyone who needs to give a 30-second introduction needs to read this book. While not written specifically for networking you’ll learn everything that you need to about being unique.
  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell - Not only does this book look at networking from a completely unique view, but it also helps the reader understand how to make their ideas spread virally.

While not all of these books were written specifically for networking, they have some incredibly valuable guidance. R
ead these books and you'll have all of the tools that you need to be very successful at business networking.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Are You Willing to Get Uncomfortable?

Do you hesitate to enter networking events sometimes? Do you spend a lot of time with people who you know when networking? Do you avoid opportunities to public speak or give you 30-second introduction to a room full of networkers. Do you delay your follow up with the key people that you meet? If so, you may need to actively work to expand your comfort zone.

Whether you think expanding your comfort zone is easy or hard, you are absolutely right. The primary step to expand your comfort zone is to...STOP DOING THE THINGS THAT MAKE YOU COMFORTABLE!

  • Before entering your next networking event, set a goal. Identify specific people who you want to meet by name or discipline. Take a minute before you enter, in your car if you drove, and review your plan. Walk in with a purpose...use your best skills to connect with the contacts that will be most meaningful. You’ll find it much easier to fully commit yourself to events when you are purposeful.
  • At your next networking event, talk only to people who you don’t know. Whether it is a sitting or standing event your role is to meet as many new people as you can. Get uncomfortable...choose to be a part of new groups of people that you don’t know where possible. Be curious...learn about them.
  • At your next networking event, be the first to volunteer to speak. You might be giving your 30-second introduction or giving feedback. It doesn't matter. Exercise your participation muscle.
  • After your next networking event, call all of the people that you met on your way to your next destination. You’ll probably get their voicemail...that’s OK. Let them know it was great to meet them and that you are looking forward to learning more about them. Where it is appropriate suggest some times for getting together one-on-one. Ask them to confirm a day and time that works best for them.
Growing you comfort zone will empower you to get significantly more out of your current and future networking activities. As the limitations that you now experience begin to dissolve, you will leverage opportunities that until now have been out of reach.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

What’s Your Valid Purpose?

Why aren’t people returning your calls or emails? Why aren’t they re-connecting with you after you meet them at an event? It’s because your valid purpose isn’t their valid purpose.

It is difficult for two professionals to commit to building a relationship without a matching
valid purpose. Imagine that you and I meet at an event and I express to you that I’d like to get together to see who you could refer me to or to sell you an insurance policy. It’s very likely that you will not have the same interest in getting together that I do.

A valid purpose is a reason to engage, meet, or have continuing dialog based on the interests of the person with whom you want to build a relationship. Your valid purpose must be receiver centered. In other words, you need to be empathic. By understanding the needs and wants of the person across from you, develop a valid purpose that is meaningful for them. Here’s a sample valid purpose, ask for a meeting to learn more about someone’s services as you have customers who may have a need for their assistance.

It would be easy to construe from this brief description that your valid purpose can be just a veil to get you the meeting. Nothing would be further from the truth. Your stated valid purpose must be congruent with your intent. Trust is build by what you do overtime not in one moment.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Going Direct - Operating Without a Net

While most networkers would prefer to be introduced before calling someone that they don’t know, sometime that’s just not possible. What happens when you do not have a connection? Is it feasible, reasonable, and not against any rules to go direct? Absolutely!

Here are some thoughts that might help...

The rule when you’re connecting with someone new, whether you have been connected by a third party or not, is to have a
valid purpose. You may have heard of WIIFM before or “what’s in it for me.” Practicing WIIFM requires you to understand and appeal to an important value of the person who you are reaching out to. People worth meeting generally don’t like wasting time so make sure that your valid purpose is stated quickly and clearly. Make it about them and you’ll be in good shape.

We have so many communication tools available to make a first, email, social media, a handwritten note, etc...Which should you use? The tendency today for first contact is certainly towards email and social media. While the efficiency here cannot be argued, the challenge is that it is difficult for the receiver to discern tone on email and social media. Whether your phone call leads directly to a conversation or a voicemail the receiver will hear your passion and
valid purpose in a way that they never will when your message is two dimensional.

While networking is a powerful tool it does not solve every need to make contact. Sometimes you’ll need to travel without a net and go direct!