Confessions of a Networker
Top Networking tips
With business ever changing, and rather than the old school ways of cold calls and canvassing for new business, most of us, who are active at a good business, are now using two methods; the internet, and physical networking to develop new relationships and contacts, like anything though, there are skills to be learned, it’s not a case of turn up say hi, thrust your card in twenty peoples shocked hands, and then go home.
Nobody is a natural at networking, and if you are consciously conscious that you don’t know, then that is wisdom, and then we can grow and learn from others about what works and save ourselves a lot of time and heartache convincing ourselves that networking doesn’t work, when in truth retrospection would have it, that it was you that didn’t work it well enough.
Here are my top Networking tips from ten years at Networking in Bangkok
Yes we have all collected quite a few over the years and do any of them stand out in your memory? Well the ones that were Dental floss, that was good , but I can’t remember the name of the company, so no it was not that good, it wasn’t even a dentist , oh dear! We all spend so much time on what’s written on our cards, so it can disappear into someone Rolodex book or case; make it a different shape so it sticks out like a sore thumb! And try making it memorable so they remember your company name!
I’ve just thought of having sharp thorns all over a business card for a gardener, and on it, the card says; “Sick of pruning the roses and the site of your own blood call us!”
Most girls I meet tell me the best job to get when moving to a new town is a customer facing one, that way you get to meet more people as quickly as possible and get to know the best people.
If you are the shyer type, then if you are part of the proceedings in some way then people will have to come to you, think of how you see all the cards in the glass bowl at the registration table at events and how you wish you could just take the bowl home and veg out in front of the TV instead of talking to insufferable bores all evening!
Arriving early has many advantages, people assume you are part of the event and make a bee line to you, and it’s been researched that the first few people you meet at events make the biggest impressions on you because it’s before all the hustle and bustle and cards being thrust about, and when you are already in a group it’s easier for people to come to you.
Also arrive early, eat early, has always been my practice, you get the pick of the food, it’s probably fresher when it’s just out, and late arrivals always have to eat and listen! I always say “Let me tell you about this project I am working on whilst you tackle that crumbly cheesecake,” talk about a captive audience!
Take a pretty lady
Sexist? A little yes, but glamour if used tastefully is a great ally, take a pretty friend who has their own business, and watch the crowds open up as you move around the floor, then introduce your friend and let her introduce you, it’s always fun, just be careful for when some network sharks steal your idea and off she goes with them!
Then again it’s not sexist if you take a handsome man, or is it!?
The Magic Number
For the really shy and new networkers, I would have a number in my head and play a game with yourself, set a target to speak to say ten people, and give yourself an incentive, “Ok 5 more people and I can then go get that Ice cream”
I once had all the targeted cards I set myself, and I just walked up to a crowd by the door on my way to leave and said:
“Can you help me; my wife is the possessive type and she thinks I am out gallivanting tonight rather than working and she will count the business cards when I get home and I am short three cards”
They laughed and I got 5 cards and left, and one of those cards upon following up the next day became a valued long term client and he said he liked my approach it was honest and brutally funny!
Be a network angel
Yes you go to establish business connections and hopefully clients, but you must remember it takes time and I have found that going to networks with the mind set of helping others then the karmic value will pay you massive dividends in this game!
I always ask; “So what should I be looking for when speaking to my network to help you” or
“How can I help you find what you are looking for” or even better
“I know someone who can help you out with that let me make a note to get them to contact you as soon as possible”
Also the best networkers won’t let anyone walk around alone, they will pull them into a group and help them, and the shining knight of all networkers is the experienced one that spots a newbie in the crowd and offers to help them by introducing him to the many people he already knows there.
Organise your own event
Now over the years I have run a few networks and I find running the evening events quite a heart breaking business as I know myself I have had every intention of turning up to an event but many factors got in the way;
Once we were pre-registered and on our way to a really big event where I was going to meet some very influential people, I was in my tuxedo, the girlfriend was in her best dress and we were stuck at a shelter less than 30 meters from the event, when the heavens opened and poured twenty gazillion tons of Bangkok rain water down, and I was told in no uncertain terms, that if her hair got wet, she is not going anywhere! So we got on the train and went to a pub at a station! Explaining that to the organiser the next day why we missed the event was no mean feat, but on the plus side we got the best dressed award ever in the local pub!
It takes skill to run an event and a really good grasp of marketing to get the message out there, but if you can then you are on to a winner, the database of the event is yours, to the victor the spoils so to speak, not to mention how people will see you as a leader if it goes well!
I have found over the years that many people shy away from evening events as they feel they are populated with the same people each time and are often quite a boozy event and many people get quite tipsy.
Still not convinced? and feel there has to be another way to find leads, well yes if you have about 5 years spare to build the size of your social media reach the way we have. We have 11,000+ contacts on LinkedIn, 200,000 on Facebook, 10,000 Twitter followers just to mention a few sites, but if you don’t have that kind of reach and only a few friends on Social Media then you last option is to use our reach.
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