I’m going back to basics tonight. Yesterday, I heard an expression that I really liked. It was, “engage your network.” The context was around fundraising for a company, but three simple words never rang truer for a number of other situations… looking for a job? Engage your network. Trying to make a sale? Engage your network. Need to find a trustworthy electrician? Engage your network.
That said, however, sometimes we may feel awkward or uncomfortable or bad asking for help. Here’s the deal: Everyone wants to help. It’s true.
As you will recall, when I began my original networking quest, I did so to determine my next career move – be it to create a company of my own or to go to work for someone else’s firm. I discovered that you never know when a networking contact will lead to a landing. Remember, in nine months, I had 160 meetings and met 200 new people. That’s 200 new people. 200 NEW PEOPLE!
That meant that 200 people, people who I had never met before, were willing to help me. I found that the combination of quantity and quality served me very well. As you scale up your networking, you will achieve better, faster results. So, make each contact meaningful – it is not worth going to the trouble of even arranging the meeting if you do not intend to take away some valuable lesson, share some story with your contact that will benefit him/her, find some common ground. Assuming you can do that, do a lot of it! Meet as many meaningful contacts as you can. Contact them. Ask for the meeting. Chances are that they will say “YES, let’s meet!”
- Be fearless.
- Start with those you know – branch out to those that they know.
- Ask for introductions – cold is ok, warm is better, hot is best!
A few quick definitions:
- Cold: You contact someone out of the blue who you have never met without the ability to say that you were “referred by so-and-so.” Chances of actually getting the contact to take a meeting with you are relatively low.
- Warm: You reach out to the contact, say that you were referred by so-and-so and ask for a meeting. If the contact knows and respects so-and-so, you will probably get a meeting.
- Hot: So-and-so sends a note to the networking prospect with a brief introduction and encourages the two of you to get together. In this case, a meeting is highly likely assuming so-and-so is respected by the prospect.
When I was in the throes of networking as my full time work, nobody said no! It was awesome. Oh, wait, about five people said no… and I can recall the names and circumstances of every one of them. Tomorrow, I will tell you about them.