(This post is the second part of a two-part series. Part one can be found here.)
5. Remember, there is no template
Like in part one, I’m starting this segment with a psychological hurdle. We often have a perception of what a networker is – someone extraverted, someone who is oftentimes the life of the party, someone with 4,839,234 friends in Facebook. A natural gift of gab certainly helps, but it doesn’t mean your destined you can’t network well if you aren’t. Some of the very best networkers I’ve come to know are mild-mannered and unassuming. This is important if we want to grow into mega-networkers: it CAN be learned and it ISN’T necessarily tied to our personality.
Like in growing any skill, however, you have to be able to practice it often.
6. Build, but also remember to maintain
It’s relatively easier to build a network versus maintaining it. Maintenance is hard work. Maintenance means keeping tabs, sending emails, grabbing lunch together, doing Skype chats and all that. How do you do this if you want to maintain say, 500, quality relationships?
Quick and dirty strategy: choose 50 (why 50? try googling path.com’s original strategy) relationships which you find very critical to your objectives. Be sure you have face-to-face time with them regularly. The next 100, perhaps a face-to-face meeting every 6 months or so. The rest? Email correspondence. Build up a system like this (the actions and the numbers are dictated by how much time you can free up), and remember, you can move people up or down your hierarchy.
The most basic way to maintain a business relationship? Keep promises.
They say a relationship takes a lifetime to build and a moment to ruin. Your network of “quality contacts” is a web of relationships. A single broken promise can ruin not merely a singular relationship, but your entire reputation. Don’t let people down.
7. To sell, avoid selling
This is a very interesting irony I’ve seen happen time and time again. Most of the time, we network with people with the particular intention of selling. The thing is, most people, especially in events/occasions where the person isn’t there as a buyer, are immediately turned off the moment they sense a sales pitch coming. And the feeling is, “I’ve been had!“
SWITCH OFF that paradigm that you are there to sell. Instead, make friends. Allow your genuine interest in people to take over. Focus on building a relationship.
Once the relationship has been established and you are talking, trust me, the conversation will naturally flow into what you are peddling. The person will then buy from you if she is interested. Sometimes this process I just described can happen in one conference, or it can happen across months.
8. It’s not about you
Always remember the double-edged sword. Rather than always thinking “what can this guy do for me?” Always think, “what can I do for this guy?” You’d be surprised at how much more helpful your contacts can be if you are proactive with helping people out.
What are some easy concrete ways you can do this? Send people articles you’d think they’d appreciate. Introduce people to one another if you think it would be mutually beneficial. Give free referrals. Be a mensch.
– Always have business cards in handy. Put some in your wallet and in your car.
– If you find yourself all awkward in networking events, ask yourself, “What have I got to lose, and what have I got to gain?”
– Contribute. Don’t be a lurker.
(No, I won’t spam you, subscribe now to Juan Great Leap!)