I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the Shawnee and Kansas City Kansas Area Chambers of Commerce Joint Luncheon on how to establish and strengthen lasting connections through intentional networking. This opportunity helped me better define networking and re-think how to make lasting connections in today’s day and age. Here are a few highlights:
What networking is all about
I often see people go to a networking event for the purpose of receiving career advice. While receiving career advice is beneficial for the person on the receiving end, it’s not the same as networking.
Here is my preferred definition of networking:
Networking – Building or strengthening personal relationships with no pre-determined end-in-mind, which becomes a win-win for both people.
You might be thinking, “Where do we start?”
Start with the concept of ‘Share/Get’
Come prepared when you attend a networking event. Knowing what you want to share and what you want to get will help you succeed at making connections. (I’ve written about this in a previous post on networking.) Walk in with three things you want to share. That way, when someone asks, “How are you?” you will have a better answer than, “Fine.” I usually reply with, “Excellent,” then say something interesting to spur conversation – “I just went to Seasons 52. Have you been there? It’s great!” The topic doesn’t have to be business-related – you may be looking for a house painter, or want information about where to take your teenage niece when she visits. It’s easy to get to know someone when asking for referrals and suggestions.
Make one stretch networking goal each month
We all like to socialize with friends, but networking requires us to get out of that comfort zone. To truly make the most out of networking, we should give ourselves a stretch goal. Make a list of key people you want to get to know, and then have the courage to reach out to them one at a time. Make sure you think in terms of quality, not quantity. It’s all about making a few really good connections, not just gathering 30 business cards.
A lesson learned on being memorable
Once when I was at a networking event, I met a lady on my target list I really wanted to meet. I was so excited to finally meet her. I followed up with a phone call the next day and said, “Hi, this is Eric. It was so nice meeting you last night…” And she stopped me to say she didn’t remember meeting me. I was hugely disappointed. However, it taught me a lesson that you must be memorable. And be memorable for something good.
It’s not who you know…it’s who knows you
We hire people we know. For everything else, we seem to listen to other people. When deciding whether or not to see a certain movie, we used to listen to two people – Siskel and Ebert. Now we use Rotten Tomatoes, Trip Adviser, Urban Spoon etc., and we’re listening to recommendations from hundreds of people we don’t know. Yet, when it comes to hiring, we still hire people we know.
Lasting connections generate referrals
At Morningstar Communications, all it took was an Excel spreadsheet for us to track all of our new clients to see 94 percent of our new business comes to us through referrals. Build relationships, and when someone needs something, they’ll call you. When networking, realize the relationships that matter go beyond the initial interaction. They offer lifetime value. That’s why we work with each other to accomplish goals.
Intentional networking is essential to establishing and strengthening lasting connections. It builds your personal and company brand by helping you expand your reach and connection to potential partners and clients.
Onward and upward.Tagged Community Involvement, Connections, Eric Morgenstern, Hand-Written Notes, LinkedIn, Morningstar Communications, Networking