Networking - Part 2
Last week I talked about the importance of networking and promised to follow up with some tips that have been helpful to me. These are some things to think about when networking.
1. Be patient- most people I've run in to at events are there to help their business or to support a cause or group. You can spot the impatient networker from across the room. Pushy is a turn off. People do business with people they like. And for most relationships, especially in business, getting comfortable takes time. I was at an event where I met an enthusiastic sales guy. Within the first 15mins of meeting, he said "Let's get together for breakfast so we can chat about how you can help me." Easy there killer!
2. If you don't know where you're going, any plan will get you there - When you're out networking, you must have a clear vision of where you're heading and how the people you meet can become integral in getting you there. What's the goal and what are the next steps to getting there? Do you need an introduction to the CEO of a company that you'd like to partner with or is meeting the head of Biz Dev the more appropriate entry point? Are you looking for an Angel to invest in your company or just someone that's done it before and can help keep you from investing your limited resources in the wrong place? Being good at networking is like being good at puzzles...you need the ability to visualize getting to the goal and how the different pieces fit to build the final product.
3. Don't be a one way street -Don't just look for networking opportunities that go one way, helping you. You have to be open to helping others with no expectation of them reciprocating. This is tough, especially early in one's career. It can often feel as if you have no expertise to share or contacts to give. When you have no experience, the most valuable thing you can give is your time. Join a group that's relevant to your goal and volunteer for a committee. Do the grunt work. Pick up the ice and sodas for the party. But most of all, keep your eyes and ears open and ask lots of questions
4. Qualify your contacts - If you plan on investing time in a new contact, make sure you qualify their relevance to your mission. Most people fall in to one of three categories: Those who watch it happen, those that make it happen, and those who wonder what happened. Make sure you know the difference.
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