This is a Guest Post By Ad Hustler Contributor: Kim Ann Curtin, Life Coach
“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
–Carl W. Buechner
The word “networking” has so many connotations, and everybody is talking about the importance, of it especially during our difficult economy. I personally dislike the word and the concept because most times the energy around it is more “I want something from you.” However you can turn that around by simply approaching everyone you meet with an attitude of “How can I help you?” When you approach people this way you facilitate an ease into true “connection” that’s not only authentic but truly satisfying for the both of you.
The key is making it about them. When you receive people as human beings and not as prospective clients then you create the opportunity to connect on a level that the majority of people don’t. Yes it’s natural to hope that you will do business together, but be sure that when they walk away they feel better because of having met you regardless. By now you know how awful it feels when someone approaches you at a networking event and for some reason after a few minutes or so they seem to get bored with you. Even if they did have a service you were in need of you sure as heck wouldn’t be interested in purchasing it from them after that experience.
Try to remember everyone in the room is in the same boat. Everyone wants more clients. By just being “over there” with the person in front of you instead of in your head worried about how you look or what you say or what you will get, you have already done something unique. Make it about them from start to finish and watch how this impacts them and dissolves your own insecurities.
Want more hands on help? I highly recommend Toastmasters. This non-profit forum is great at teaching people to speak, not only in front of other people, but how to meet and greet new people in a genuinely relaxed way. It’s invaluable and there are countless chapters all over the US with meetings almost every day of the week. Second read, Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. I’ve spoken about this book before but it bears repeating because it gives tangible examples of what to do and not do. Additionally Keith Ferrazzi is launching this April his first Relationship Masters Academy, an eight week online course that delivers a complete strategic relationship building system. This program has been delivered to Fortune 500 teams and this year’s Stanford & Harvard MBAs. Look for it on www.KeithFerrazzi.com I‘m actually one of the coaches for RMA and I’m enthusiastic to be a part of a forum which helps people learn how to connect in a meaningful and powerful way.
Some additional tips on how to connect with authenticity:
* Ask people not what they do, but what they care about. This was a recent tweet by the Jonathan Fields, the author of Career Renegade.
* Ask permission before you offer help/guidance/advice. Individuals are so willing to share their expertise and experience with us, and it’s wonderful when they do. At the same time, it can get old really fast too. I often (but not always) ask permission before I share unsolicited words of advice. It goes a long way to show someone that you respect them and their own abilities.
* Be a connector. Act as a resource for people you know. It is amazing to put people together who will benefit from one another. Neither party will ever forget who introduced them.
* Reach out to those you normally wouldn’t. Step out of your comfort zone. I try at every event to speak to someone that I think I won’t have anything in common with and am usually surprised at what we do share in common. Or I force myself to meet new people by choosing a color prior to entering an event, say red, and then go up to everyone who is wearing red, telling them that I had to introduce myself to them since I promised myself that I would meet everyone who was wearing that color. It’s a great conversation starter!
* Show Vulnerability. Perhaps you and your husband argued over the phone prior to walking into the event. Or you’re worried about your father who is ill. Maybe you’re not sure how much longer your position in your company will continue. When you share something real that you are struggling with, with another person then they have a chance to see you not just as another “networker” but as a human being. You don’t want to over do it and give them the whole story but sharing a little about what is real for you allows them in. And in turn they will usually share a little about themselves as well.
It really comes down to the basic golden rule, treat others as you would like them to treat you –if you do this then all your connections will be authentic and everyone will walk away from you remembering how great you made them feel. The best calling card one can leave behind.