Ok, so on November 13th we had our networking event at the Black Bear Saloon. (Blatant promotion: www.ProMetroNet.com). All went very well, and we hit our usual crowd of about 35-40 people. From the feedback I got so far, almost everyone enjoyed it.
However I cannot emphasize enough that there are certain things that one can do to increase the effectiveness of networking. A lot of it has to do with taking the time to get to know someone before shoving a business card down their throat. I see this all too often in networking circles, and while it might garner short term gains, it serves as the antithesis of networking's primary purpose - do develop long-term relationships. In order to do this, one must remove from brain the idea of networking being...gasp...a numbers game.
Moreover, let's face it - in the current economic climate, many are trying to get the word out there in as efficient a manner as possible. Unfortunately, efficiency and effectiveness don't always go together. Stephen Covey writes in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People about how a person in the woods was sawing down a tree, and when someone pointed out to him that he would probably be able to get the tree cut quicker if he sharpened his blade, the man said that he didn't have time for that sort of thing. So I ask you, people who think of networking as a "numbers game"...and I say this with love...if you took the time to get to know us before telling us more about your products or services, do you think you might have receive a more robust response?
Once we as networkers all come to terms with that cold-cock to the brain, it makes life a lot easier when dealing with people. Certainly we need to employ the energy, enthusiasm and hard work to put ourselves in front of suitable potential clients, to get to know them better, and to let them know (in a polite manner) how cool we and our life's work happens to be. BUT, we must always remember that most of our lives don't play out like the New York Stock Exchange, nor does it make it any more enjoyable to conduct oneself in such a manner.
Here are a few quick anecdotes regarding good networking.
My Stepfather Jim Hudick (R.I.P.) from American Management Association was the perfect example of how humans should relate to each other. He was kind, considerate, and most of all took a genuine interest in other people. The funny thing was...he was also kind of quiet. You had to ask questions to learn more about him, but each time you walked away from Jim, you got a really good feeling inside - that he was genuinely interested in you. At his funeral, you should have seen the out pour of emotion for this very fine man, who spent much of his life caring about other human beings.
Vincent Blehl from Green T just gave me a call, and he brought up an excellent point; while you are speaking with people, make mental notes of who in your current circle might be good contacts for him or her. In that way you are an instant service to the person, and although you may not reap the rewards immediately, you can be sure they will appreciate it and perhaps reciprocate in the future. Multiply that by the number of people you meet, and you have built a network of people who want to get to know you better...and are more likely to do business with you.
Kevin Kearsey of Montvale Mortgage saved me last night. While I was doing my 60-second infomercial at the ProMetroNet event, I suddenly paused in a manner worse than when former NY Attorney General Jeannine Pirro announced her run for Senate (“does anyone have page 10?”). Kevin subsequently used a few moments of his own presentation last night to do a quick rescue, endorsing me and letting the audience know that Rockland Web Design is working on his company's new website. Very classy move, Kevin; thank you.
There are so many more points that can be made here, but you're busy. Go back to work - but remember that networking should not just be about you. Remember the other person to whom you speak. If you see eyes roll over or attention wander as you are talking, ask a few questions of the other persons that help you to get to know them better, and don't make it about your product or service. Maybe it should be about the Jets game, or that lovely purse that someone is wearing, or something that makes it more enjoyable to speak with you, and remember you.
And to the number-crunching networkers out there...if you are reading this and think I am trying to offend, please don't feel that way. As a matter of fact I really am trying to help. I truly hope to talk with you again at the next meeting - and here's an icebreaker for you - my favorite band of all time is Led Zeppelin. What's yours? :-)
Rockland Web Design
(845) 271 - 4488
P.S. Check out some additional resources:
The Art of Networking - A Tutorial
What Makes Business Networking So Important
Small Businesses Turning to Social Networking
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Rockland Web Design Inc. > Blog
General Blog | 14 November 2008
More Networking Do's and Dont's - Some anecdotes