5 Tips, Tools and Rules to Get you in the Holiday Networking Mood
It’s that time again. That’s right...it's networking season and I’m so geeked but that could just be the extrovert in me. However, whether you are an extrovert, an introvert or somewhere in between here are some tips, tools and rules to get you in the networking mood—or as I like to call it connecting.
Rule #1) Always stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. Now...this rule means different things to different peeps. For me, it means that I should have my who statement complete. And by who I mean who am I versus what I do from 9 to 5 just to stay alive. But often times at networking events we network with dos. We talk about our professions, not our persons, our glories not our stories and our dos not our whos. I, on the other hand, like to talk about my who. My journey to purpose, my true self, the things that make my eyes well. But for some...this is too much for the first time meeting someone face-to-face and that’s a-ok. If you prefer to keep it caj, always stay ready so you don’t have to get ready may mean you have your business cards ready and your elevator pitch steady. So get ready.
Rule #2) Know your zones. Networking is like sports but instead of having end zones the networking place and space has friend zones. Meaning…some areas of the networking floor are easier to score a connection than others. Picture a holiday networking event…even if it hasn’t taken place yet. Try to picture it. Picture the entrance, now picture registration, picture the bar, now picture the food, then picture the people doing what networking people do. Now picture you. Where do you think you will make more connections? A) the entrance, B) registration, C) the bar, D) the food line or E) in the center of the floor with the rest of the people wining, dining and socializing? If you chose option E you are correct, and if you want to learn more about the zones talk to me at the event.
Rule #3) Break the ice. The number one question people ask me is—drum roll please—how should I break the ice? And my response is usually to smile, say hi and be nice. But, if this response doesn’t work for you...here five other ways that work fine too:
- Begin in circles: people don't believe me when I say this but it's true -- it's easier to break the ice with threes and fours than it is with ones and twos.
- Read name tags: I read nametags to address strangers by their names and instantly there is a flame.
- Eat and speak: I like to use food as a way to mix and meet but be careful not to do more eating than meeting.
- Ask questions: channel your inner Curious George and get inquisitive. Ask people everything from what they thought about the event to what's their favorite mint.
- Keep the comments and compliments coming: they say imitation is the best form of flattery and I say flattery is the best form of friendship making so... compliment and comment continuously and you'll make friends as easy as 123.
Rule #4) Connect on the spot. Most of us have smartphones these days so there’s no reason to wait to connect. No reason to take someone’s business card with the intention to follow-up later. No reason. Because what typically happens is—you don’t. You lose the card or it gets dropped in a pile with the dozens of other cards from the previous networking events you attended—so stop intending! Me personally, I ask for email addresses and phone numbers and then I enter both into my phone right next to the contact information for the rest of my friends. Well actually, I don’t enter anything. I hand my phone to my new friend and they enter it.
Then immediately, as in while the person is still standing there, I reach out to my new friend via text or email to remind them of our connection and to schedule our next one. Sometimes we schedule our next connection right there on the spot. Most people keep their calendars on their phones these days, so if you can go ahead and schedule it—by all means schedule away. But if you can’t schedule right then and there, make sure to schedule the very next day because a delayed connection can turn into a missed or forgotten connection, so I don’t chance it.
Rule #5) Follow-up and follow through. Follow up, follow through and do what you said you were going to do. If you said you were going to email someone by such and such day, then get it done. If you said you were going to call someone for such and such reason, then get it done. If you said you were going to send someone such and such, then get it done. Just do it. Do what you said you were going to do to connect with the peeps you want to get connected to.
Well...that’s it friends. Happy reading and happy connecting!!!