For many business owners having to introduce themselves to a group of strangers at a networking event is something they fear. However, when it comes to networking, F.E.A.R. is actually a very good thing.
How can F.E.A.R. be good, I hear you ask?
And, what does it stand for when it comes to networking?
It stands for:
Fostering Exceptional Authentic Relationships.
How do you approach networking?
Recently, I heard about one person’s approach, which was to hand out and collect as many business cards as she could. She never bothered to speak to anyone, but rather just thrust her card into the hands of people who glanced her way, and then asking them for their card.
Then she committed the ultimate sin of networking (which, is in fact, against the law) and added those people to her database, without their consent.
Following this approach, and sending unsolicited emails is one of best ways to tarnish your reputation AND is certainly not going to help you foster exceptional authentic relationships.
When it comes to relationships, think Quality NOT Quantity.
Nurturing quality relationships with like-minded people, where you have taken the time to get to know, like and trust him/her as someone who you would gladly recommend and/or do business with.
Here are some steps to get you started in fostering exceptional authentic relationships:
1. Set your intention
There’s something magical and powerful that happens when we set an intention.
As Deepak Chopra so aptly states:
“Intention is the starting point of every dream. It is the creative power that fulfils all of our needs, whether for money, relationships, spiritual awakening, or love. Everything that happens in the universe begins with intention.”
What’s your intention, when it comes to networking?
One of my podcast guests – Catriona Pollard, shared her intention during our interview for an upcoming show.
Her intention (for every networking event she attends) is to have a meaningful conversation with 3 people, so she can get to know each person on a deeper level.
By setting this intention, along with her desire to foster exceptional authentic relationships, she has developed a growing community of likeminded people, which has led to ongoing business and promotional opportunities for her and her business.
What’s your intention when it comes to networking?
2. Give your attention
Know the one action you can take (when you first meet someone) that will make the most impact?
Dale Carnegie writes about it in his book: “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
In fact, he devotes an entire chapter to it.
Become genuinely interested in other people.
Take heed of the word ‘genuinely’.
As I mentioned in my article: “Icebreaker vs Deal Breaker – do you know the difference?” people are passionate about the work they do and will gladly share more about themselves and their work when you show genuine interest in what they are doing.
Here’s a recap of some questions you can ask to get the conversation going – a great way to start fostering an exceptional authentic relationship:
- “Tell me about your business and the work you do?”
- “I’ve been hearing about some of the changes in your industry. Is your business being impacted because of these changes?
- “What are some of the projects you’re working on at the moment?”
3. Take action
To start leveraging the new connections you have made – requires action.
Don’t file away the business cards you’ve just collected, and DON’T whatever you do, add people to your email list (and start emailing them) without their consent.
Send a brief ‘Nice to meet you email,’ and add their details and relevant notes into your database so you can refer back to them when the opportunity arises to pass on their details as a resource for someone who needs their product/services.
With the people you’ve spoken to (and believe there is the potential for a mutually beneficial relationship) be sure to reconnect with them as soon as possible to book in another meeting.
Follow up is key. The real results and successes from networking occur because of what happens after the event.
I do this often and have established some great relationships that have resulted in some incredible opportunities, including:
- A two-year joint venture for my first-ever online radio show;
- Speaking at both in-person and virtual events to hundreds of my ideal clients;
- Adding hundreds of leads to my database; to name a few.
These are just some of the things you can achieve, when you have a solid follow up plan in place and take the necessary action steps.
What action are you going to take to follow up with the people you are connecting with?
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