Introduction from Alana:
Recently, I had the good fortune to connect the great Laura Wynn – a networking expert after my own heart! Like me, Laura believes we can truly “expand the pie” by opening our minds and our calendars to the power of networking. When I asked her about her philosophy on networking the first thing she said was, “I believe networking is as simple as making a BLT sandwich!” She’s right and I couldn’t resist having her share her approach with all of you.
Laura Wynn, Creator of BLT Networking™
The powerful slogan, “Just Do It,” has been credited for helping propel the Nike brand into global recognition since 1988. Most people immediately make the connection, even if they’ve never purchased Nike products. Most adults can remember this advertising slogan from nearly 30 years ago, and yet many of us struggle to remember the name or occupation of someone we met five minutes ago. How is it possible that three words; “Just Do It”, can create such a lasting impression on our memories? It’s actually very simple. It’s called the Rule of Three.
The Rule of Three writing principle suggests that things in groups of three are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. Our brain attachment to this number helps us connect with memories for quick recall that can last for years. A favorite example of mine is, “Stop, Drop, and Roll”. This phrase is easy for kids to remember, and the words carry enough explanation to make the directions clear. During family fire drills, my children have never had to pause and try to remember the order in which they should practice these three life saving actions.
In our professional lives, we have systems in place for nearly every aspect of business operation. We like simple, consistent procedures that work. However, when I ask professionals to share their system for building effective business relationships, I typically get blank stares as an answer. I may hear, “Oh, you mean networking! I hate networking.” After hearing this for years as a professional development coach, I had to ask myself, “Why do smart people spend so much energy avoiding networking; the core activity that builds and sustains their business?” It was baffling to me. In fact, Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines networking specifically as the process of cultivating productive relationships for business growth. So, if you ‘hate’ networking, are you telling me you don’t like new clients? Of course not. More likely, you just don’t have a simple strategy you can remember that will guide you through the networking process with confidence and results.
Hatred of networking (which in reality is more likely fear of embarrassment or lack of confidence) is what prompted me to create the BLT Networking system for my clients. I used the Rule of Three theory to create a system that professionals would enjoy using, and hopefully help them learn to feel more comfortable creating new business relationships. Networking can be fun, and building relationships really can be as simple as making a BLT Sandwich. Just remember the three main ingredients in a Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich, and you will be able to maneuver through any networking situation with grace and confidence; maximizing your time and making strong business connections. Here is a quick overview of how to build a networking sandwich:
- The key to success using the BLT Networking System is to identify and connect with people you can do immediate business or referrals with. We call this your BACON. You will feel comfortable talking with a “bacon,” and engage in conversation that is relevant to specifics of your businesses. For example, you may meet someone who has just opened a coffee house, and you are looking for a small venue to reserve for your upcoming book release party… You have a valid reason to follow up with this person within 24 hours of meeting them to discuss terms of a business transaction.
- At any type of networking event, you’ll meet a lot of people who you enjoy visiting with but don’t feel like you have a need to do business with right away. This is LETTUCE, and they will become your referral partners. You should touch base with his person every few months to see if their business needs have changed, and this is a great contact to call when you have news to share in your own profession. “Lettuce” is actually the best contact you’ll meet for long term business growth, because they quickly become ‘professional friends.’ The better you get to know your Lettuce, the more Bacon they will be able to send your way, and vice versa!
- There’s at least one at every networking event: the person who is obnoxiously eager to tell you about her business, and is determined to make you a client. The issue, in this case, is that you are not in need of her services or product. In BLT Networking, we call this a TOMATO. These are not bad people! “Tomatoes” just haven’t been educated on networking etiquette. For now, we must let them go so that we can spend our time building relationships with professionals with whom we have a connection.
It’s important to predetermine a clear understanding of your intended purpose at every networking event you attend. Knowing who is a good lead for you will make it easier to identify and find your BACON and LETTUCE. Knowing in advance what type of professional is not a comfortable fit for your business style and ethics will help you learn to immediately spot TOMATOES, and avoid them.
You can learn more about the characteristics of each BLT Networking ingredient and find real, do-able tips for every type of networking event you attend at www.LauraWynn.com.