I was talking to a new friend today about networking. It is very encouraging to me how many people are so aware of how important networking is, especially to those in transition. My new friend has been doing a fantastic job of meeting new people, tracking information and following up with several people who can be of assistance to him and to whom he can assist. I was encouraged and impressed.
After our conversation I realized he was out-doing me. Not a happy thought for me, as I am a bit competitive in everything I do. I can’t help it; it just comes out in me. But I digress; today this is not all about me. I know a lot of people have one great, and grave, challenge when it comes to networking – implementing all the steps. And the one step that can really hurt a person or business is not following through and then keep following through.
Here is a typical scenario: you go to a networking event all pumped to meet three people. You are dressed for the occasion, have your great opening statements or questions to help break the ice, you’re in the right frame of mind, have your business cards or information handy – you are good to go. You enter and immediately meet a great contact. You make a connection, share information and move on and meet another great connection. This continues through the event and before you know it you have made five great connections!
Holy cow, you think, this was a great event. I meet five new people, we have established a connection and I can either help them or they might be able to help me: this is awesome! You might be so good as to that day or the next send a follow up email to tell them how much you enjoyed meeting them. They might send one back telling you the same and maybe a few emails exchange. And then it all fades to black. The connection stops. You do not follow up again, you never call, you never write, we never hear from you anymore unless you want money … oh wait, wrong speech… But you get my point.
You made a connection but that is not a relationship. Relationships take time and effort. Effort people, effort! You must stay connected, you must continue to reach out, and you must continue to be of assistance to others. You must put in effort to cultivate a relationship with someone. One magical night does not a marriage make. In order to do business with you (and that includes refer you to someone who is hiring) people must know you, trust you, understand what value you bring to others and remember you for crying out loud. I doubt many will refer a person they met one time and never heard from again.
If you are someone who keeps all those business cards, take a gander through them and think about when was the last time you reached out to any of them, even just to say hello? Do not fib here, we’re all friends, we can be honest. I am looking at mine and I must say I am embarrassed because it has been some time for me. Oh, the shame.
So, as soon as I post this I am going to go through and send out a friendly “hey stranger” and wish them a happy day. I must practice what I preach so that is my mission today. I am willing to bet dollars to donuts that I will receive a friendly hello right back from a few people and be able to reconnect with some amazing people. As a matter of fact, I will keep track of my results in order that I can come back and tell you to hopefully inspire you to do the same. Of course, I might have to mention that see, you should always listen to your mother… oh darn it, wrong speech again….