Extend Your Handshake Through the Computer Screen
Hello, and welcome to Aftershock Weekly, Episode 32. This week we’re going to talk about a fun topic, which is networking. If you’re a small business owner, just as I am, you’ve probably been invited to a lot of networking meetings, whether it’s Networking 360, or BNI, or there’s a lot of great opportunities to meet people out there. Well, I wanted to talk about some best practices when you’re networking with people, and really, from that point, how to extend your handshake through the screen so you can stay connected with those people.
First, you want to limit your interactions. Any networking group that you come into, really your goal should be to have two to three great conversations. You don’t need five, ten, you don’t want to just go out there and shuffle business cards, you want to have two to three great conversations at each event. In a one-hour period of time that’s plenty, it allows you go get to know people, and allows them to get to know you, and that’s the important part.
Two, don’t just trade business cards. You want to discover one to two interesting things about the person. Just remember, in the book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie always talks about how the best conversationalist out there is the one who asks questions about you. The most important subject in everybody’s life is themselves, so if you ask them about themselves, what they’re interested in, family, obviously their business as well—commit a few, key things to memory on that so you can circle back on that later on when you talk to them again.
Three, no commercial breaks. Wait until you’re asked about what you do. You don’t want to automatically, as soon as somebody tells you what their business is, “So, hey, great! I’m in digital marketing, and here’s what we do.” Because they’re going to shut down. But, if you continue after they’ve told you what they do, and then you ask them prodding questions like, “Tell me more about how that works? How long have you been in business?” That’s my favorite quote. How long have you been in business, how did you get started in this business, people will talk for days. Get them talking on that, and then reciprocate will come around to you. They’re going to ask, “Well how did you get started in your business? What do you do? How does that work?” Then now you have a rapport built up. And remember, don’t just reduce yourself to your business. You’re a people, you’re a human, right? So you have friends, you have family, you have interests, hobbies, things that you do as well. You might have a sports team you like. Make sure that you’re open to having conversations about that stuff, because it’s not just always about business. The more someone can relate to you on a human level, the more opportunities you’ll have to probably do business with them.
Four, read the room. This is very important, and it has always been very successful for me. Any time you come in to a brand new networking event, it’s always interesting to observe before you go in and start introducing yourself around. And what you’re looking for is people that have others gathered around them, people that are the “cool kids”, so to speak, in that particular networking group. Because you know that they’ve already got connections, so when you get engaged with them and they find out what you do, they’re probably going to be a great connector to connect you to the other people that they know in the group that might be able to utilize your services. So stay back, look for people that already have a little bit of a crowd or who people seem really engaged with, and then go pick those two or three people to have those great conversations with.
Five, follow up digitally. So, here’s where digital comes in, and continuing your sphere of influence. Now that you’ve met them, you’ve had a conversation, you’ve learned a bit about what they do, a little bit about them personally, now it’s time to reach out and connect. Now, you’ve got to decide on how you want to connect with that person. If it was strictly professional, you never got any deeper than, you know, what do you like to do, those types of things, then you probably want to look at a LinkedIn connection. You know, you can always turn a LinkedIn connection over time into a Facebook connection. But Facebook is where my go-to play is. I like to connect with people I have met so that I can continue that relationship through the screen, get to know them and their posts, what they like, see something about their business, family, all that good stuff, and they can also see about me. That’s how you can extend that connection from that point on. LinkedIn’s great, but definitely very on the professional level, and it’s not something that people go and spend two to three hours a day on.
So, that would be my tips for networking out there. Good luck to you out there at your next networking event, and we’ll leave you with a quote.