More Than WE Know

Women Entrepreneurs sharing Information, Inspiration and Support

The Secret to Networking at the Next Level

Posted by Liz Fuller on August 11, 2007

telling-secrets.jpgI’m going to let you in on the secret to great networking.  If you read Part III of my 3 part series on networking, you might be able to guess it. But then again, it is amazing how many people don’t.  Partly because it is so simple. And partly because most people overlook the fact that networking is a two-way street. They are so focused on their own goals that they forget all about the goals of the other people they meet.

Remember Anya in Part III of my article? She was the connector who enjoyed introducing people to each other.  As you recall, I suggested that you become very close to Anya. 

But now I am going to take it one step further – I am going to suggest that you become Anya, or more accurately,  that you become a connector.

First, make a list similar to the one that you put together in Part III.  Only this time list all the people that you know.  This could take a while so you might want to think of them by categories – all the people you know from school, from your neighborhood, from your Church or Synagogue, etc. And don’t forget your family! They’re in your network, too.

When you have  a good list going, take a few moments to review it.  Who in your network might like to know someone else in your network? What kind of connections might they have – hobbies, business, shared interests? 

In your conversations with members of your network, listen between the lines of what they are saying. Think about whether there is anyone they could meet who might be able to help them with their latest problem – do they need a good hairdresser, financial planner, realtor, computer repairman, plumber, dogsitter, babysitter, lawn service, etc.? 

If so, make it a point to recommend one.  Give them a card or offer to make a call or send an email.  They’ll be impressed with your knowledge, remember the favor and look for opportunities to help you in return.

And if the connection is even more significant – say they need a referral for a job,  a partner for a project or a reference for a loan, then actually set up an introduction. Don’t just give the person a name, or make a phone call.   If you do, you’ve just set up the equivalent of a business blind date. Neither party really knows what to say to each other or why they are there. It is poised to backfire with a missed connection, hurt feelings and annoyance.  Rather than being seen as a strategic connector, you’ll be regarded as a meddlesome dis-connector! 

Instead, invite them both out to lunch or for coffee.  Introduce them. Help them get to know each other and get the conversation started.  Enable them to see what they each have to offer the other and the opportunity before them.  And then, step out.  Whether they actually follow through on the deal is none of your business. But they will both remember that you were the source of a good lead, and will be sure to think of you in return.

Before long, you will have a reputation as someone with a great network – a connectorYou’ll be the person that everyone wants to know – and networking will start being fun after all!

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