At Global Chamber® we are deeply involved every day with 'warm connections' - we make introductions between people we feel should connect. We don't always know if something great will come of it, but because we know both parties, chances are pretty good.
We also do events, and the chances are lower that any given conversation could lead to something great. But again chances are that if you're a person attending a Global Chamber® event, you must be pretty amazing!
We also know that the world is half full of people who enjoy connecting with other people who can make their life richer. This post is for you.
The other half of the world are people who aren't crazy about networking or downright hate it. This post is for you, too!
Global Chamber® helps you connect globally to trusted partners, good customers, strong service providers, reputable employers and great folks, period. We've built systems to help... and in the end it's up to you take the ball and run with it.
It's in this spirit of teamwork and collaboration that we share these 'top 10 networking tips' to help you connect with people who can help you.
It's not like this topic hasn't been covered over and over through the years, but it's good to revisit some best practices.
Here you go! Network and connect, and grow globally!
1) Determine What (and Who) You Need
Whether you're running a company or looking for a job, there are people who you should be surrounding yourself with - for what you're working on now and plan to work on in the future. Think about who those people are, and then search. And so if you're a CEO, you need to be surrounded with folks who know finance, HR, marketing, global business, sales, operations, et al. Make a list. Then determine who some of the folks are in your network (see #2 and 3).
2) Be Selective with Your Connections
My Linkedin network is filled with 10,000 direct connections and over 20 million people surrounding them. I can't know all of them! There's 7 billion people in the world, too - definitely can't know all of them, either. Use the process of number 1 to create a priority list that includes most or many of the types of people who you should know, and make a point of filling out your dance card. That includes people that you may not normally hang out with. If you normally focus on operations, for instance, make sure you're connecting with marketing people, too.
There are some tried and true ways to connect with people you should know. Some of these include...
- From people you already know. Ask for intros.
- Connect in Linkedin, usually through people you know. Other social media can also be a source.
- Connect via local chambers, non-profits and organizations (Tech Council, professional organizations, etc).
- Connect via Global Chamber® - we help members connect to more sophisticated growing and global companies.
3) Meet People in Creative Ways - Be Flexible
Not every connection you'll have needs to be a best golfing buddy. Connect with people in a variety of ways - including in Linkedin, over coffee, on boards, in volunteer activities, in your neighborhood, or wherever. For the core connections you need to have, make sure you connect with them more deeply and get to know them well (see #4). This is an investment for your future. Building connections at the moment when you need them is a lot tougher to do.
4) Test Your Connections - Can You Trust Them?
In addition to growing your network, observe the people you connect with all along the way. Test them. For instance you can start by introducing a new person to a lower risk connection to determine how it goes. Use the results to make additional connections with that person, or not, based on the outcome.
By testing your connections before you might need them, you'll already have a track record of knowledge about how they can help. If they can't help you or someone in your network, quietly disengage. Some people are helpful, some are not.
5) Show Yourself to Them
Demonstrate your personality to your connections through your personal interactions, including sharing what you bring to the table. How proactive are you in helping them? The more proactive you are, the more proactive they will be, and the faster a mutually beneficial relationship will develop.
Tell your value in stories, as they will be remembered by them much longer. We're all busy, and stories are a great way to communicate to busy people.
6) Work on Your First Impression
Studies have shown that it's often that first minute of meeting that will determine if the relationship will continue forward. Make that moment count by having your approach down pat. Ask questions. Have your elevator pitch sharpened, and then ideally tailor your story after you understand who they are and what they're looking for. And don't tell your entire life story... tell the part that's applicable. Do #7 and #8 prior to your monologue, and never do a monologue!
7) Prepare and Research
Prior to meeting people for the first or any time, do a little research on them and their company. Google and Linkedin know all. A simple search or two uncovers some amazing information that for some reason folks often don't discover or use. When you do, it's a much richer conversation.
Asking questions and listening to the answers is just about the hardest thing to do sometimes, especially when you're busy. Slow things down and be amazed at what a little slower pace can do. "Go mo slow to go mo fast!"
9) Follow-up. Be Patient, and Persevere
Follow-up includes a note or e-mail with each touch point. Get into the habit of following up - ideally at the end of the day or before the next day starts - so that the investment you made is remembered by you and them, and that any actions agreed have a better chance of moving forward. These are investments for the long term - and so be patient, but persevere to keep these relationships active and growing.
10) Add Value
Last and absolutely not least, always find ways to add value to your network of connections. This might seem obvious, and especially if you think about the people you want to help, they are the ones helping YOU. It's only natural then that if you're helping, they'll help you MORE. OK, sometimes that doesn't work exactly, but that's a good data point, too. Help the folks who can help you, and that back and forth can be powerful.
Develop the skill to help. This means after listening and understanding where they are and what they need, be proactive in connecting them with people who fill out their dance card, even if they're not looking for that type of person today. Follow steps #1 and 2 for them - and you'll start making valuable connections that they might not have ever thought of asking for. That's valuable!
If you begin with the end in mind, then your career at the end includes hundreds and perhaps thousands of people who you've helped, and who have helped you... make each of your lives, and the world, a little better.
Work on your connections every day and you'll be richer in business for a lifetime.
And work with Global Chamber® because we're dedicated to creating great connections for you to enrich your career and expand your business. And there's no better global business place than here to grow globally.
Contact me for more information.