The relationships you create throughout your life are paramount in helping you to become the person you are today. When things really count and there is urgency about a situation in your life, we count on our network of friends and colleagues to help us get through the challenges we encounter. What’s the first thing you do if you’re told by your family physician that you have a serious illness? You probably call someone you know you can count on who knows someone who can help you get in touch with a specialist they trust or a similar scenario to that.
do you do when you lose your job or one of your university kids needs a job?
You start to go through your list of colleagues and contacts of people who you
have maintained a good relationship with over the years. You pick up the phone
and ask them for any recommendations on job openings in their immediate circle
or within their circle of contacts. They start to work with you and before you
know it, you have some names of reliable people to call because of your
relationship with that first colleague. You reach out to your network of
friends and colleagues to help spread the word and get support and you do the
same for them.
It’s a pleasure to be able to help your friends and colleagues with the network of people you know and trust. It’s one of those quiet moments in life that make you feel proud of the relationships you have nurtured over the years. It’s also the one thing that can never be taken from you. Some might say (and I would) that it is more valuable than almost anything in life. It is one of the most important elements to achieving long-term success. Whenever you get the opportunity to meet new people within your industry, take note of who you met. There’s only one caveat to this sharing process: carefully choose who you are going to share your relationship capital with. If I recommend you to my network, don’t make me look bad because my reputation is now involved with your newfound contact.
Networking and working your network, is also a huge component to furthering your business and Relationship Capital. Here are few tips when you go into your next networking environment:
- If you go into any networking environment, go on your own – this is not a pack mentality game. Networking is about adding to your own portfolio of assets.
- Notice the clumps of people who are really engaging meaningful conversations within the room. Networking is not a social event. (That is what after-parties and cocktail parties are for). Strictly speaking – if you see one person walking around – don’t even bother engaging in a conversation. They are not focussed networkers and haven’t the tools to engage business in an offensive manner. They are more interested in being noticed – like merchandise on a shelf.
- If you see two people chatting – consider this: quickly assess whether you want to be included within the group – look at their watch shape, their shoes, what they have chosen to wear, their overall body language (and other characteristics that you can relate to). Check in to note whether it matches with who you want to do business with? If it does, join them or simply move on. Here are a few other networking scenarios with two people in conversation to consider:
- They are either colleagues already know or they have come in together. In both cases – you are not going to gain new information nor build your relationship capital because they are already in your circle. OR
- They have taken their conversation to the second level of engagement because during initial ‘clump’ conversations, they have recognized they are on the same plain of thought and want to explore more.
* Two people presents a ‘closed’ transaction image. A great number to enjoy a successful date with but presents a closed door within the world of networking.
- If you see 3 people talking – these people know how to network and are among the group of people you want to be engaging with. The number 3 can be awkward in some social cases – but the number 3 within the networking world of figuring out quickly who you want to engage further conversation with – is your key. Visualize 3 people talking – there are 3 open spaces ready for others to join. If you are a good networker – you will find ways to move the conversations along with one, two or all three of those people. Make deliberate decisions and keep yourself moving.
- Once you’ve connected and agree to further conversation, the usual business card (or smartphone contact information exchange) takes place. Business cards (or contact info.) takes care of the topical information about that person and their business. But in order to be remembered and to stand out from being just another person at the event last week, take specific notes on the conversation with that particular person. Besides the business at hand and what you gleaned, take note of what that person was wearing (I always initiate to get a joint picture as well) and the discussion shared. As well, take note of the date you met them on, whether they have a family and/or a pet, have taken any vacations lately, and anything else you can think of to remind you of that person and that person of you! This detail, gives you meaningful information to use to build your abilities as a strong connector and better communicator for now and the future. Because you took the time to notice that person and to find the common ground between the two of you will be noticed once you reach out to them via a follow up note. We humans (regardless of stature), want to be recognized and feel special even for a moment. Here is a great example of a follow up letter with a like-minded sales professional. It’s personable with a folksy style that suited the lighthearted conversation and shows he was listening to his new networking contact:
Go beyond just remembering a name, an email address and what you can get from your new found networking colleague. Make them feel special by acknowledging what makes them unique. This kind of attention to detail to the humanity and integrity of who we are as people will surely help you grow your relationships and hence your business too!
(Excerpt from Alli Mang’s book, Sold Out – How to Reach Your Full Potential in Sales from www.amazon.com)