I’m cheating a little bit on today’s coffeelunchcoffee.com post and, rather than writing a full article, I am instead redirecting you to the Huffington Post where I was privileged to publish a piece today entitled, “The One-Two Punch to Networking: Learn, Then Do… ASAP.”
I hope you will take a moment to look at it, but the general gist is that we can read articles and attend classes/workshops and think about networking all day long; however, we can never really master the art of networking unless we follow a few simple steps:
Attitude. Decide that you are a great networker and have fun engaging in the effort! Though the idea of networking can be daunting, the rewards you reap from the experience will pay dividends for years to come. By going in with an optimistic disposition, ready to help and add value for others, you will build a solid professional network.
Process. Determine an approach that will work for you — and commit to it. I like to plan my days around three key meetings — one in the morning, one at midday and one in the afternoon — thus, “Coffee Lunch Coffee.” That approach works for some; others have a different take. Find the process that makes the most sense for you based on your goals, lifestyle and aspirations.
Set a Goal. How many new people will you seek to develop relationships with each day, week, month or year? It starts with just one. When I first started building my network, I aimed for 15 new or renewed connections each week; now that my days are a bit fuller, I strive for five to 10 per week. What’s your magic number?
Prepare. Think about people you already know with whom you’d like to reconnect, people you know of in the community with whom you’d like to connect for the first time, companies you’d like to get to know better. Then, gather some information on each. Thanks to LinkedIn profiles, company websites and social media, you can find plenty of information with minimal time and effort. By doing your research, you can capitalize on the time spent with your contacts and make your meetings more productive for both parties.
Know Your Own Story. It may seem obvious, but go into networking scenarios armed with an arsenal of your own key stories — those that describe who you are, what you do, what you believe in, how you operate. Think ahead about the information you want to share and how you wish to be perceived. This, too, will help to engage your contacts in meaningful, fruitful discussions.
Quality Over Quantity. A true networker goes in ready to add value, without expectation of the specific benefits the encounter will bring. That is the type of person best positioned to take advantage of the long-term goodness the relationship may yield.
Now that you have read my synopsis… please consider going out and reading the actual article… then, be sure to get out there and practice, practice, practice your new relationship building skills by building relationships!