Often, I hear clients lament about the challenges networking presents and their distaste for the activity.
Just the word networking turns many people off. It shouldn’t.
I recommend that networking is looked at as an opportunity to make and develop new relationships where each person helps the other and their respective organizations.
For many, this will mean transforming how you regard networking. Think “opportunity” NOT “confrontation.”
To help, here are five steps I recommend you take before your next networking event. Take them on and try to enjoy it…remember that other people are looking to find new, beneficial connections also. You’re just giving them the opportunity to see YOU as one.
Five Steps for Networking Success
#1 Define the Reputation You Want
You have a reputation. Do you know what it is? And just as importantly, do you know what you WANT it to be? Define this so that you can go after it. How people think about you is a big factor in how they will interact with you professionally. The reputation you want is one of being clear, interested, humble, and curious. Not declarative or over-confident. You avoid these behaviors by being interested, not interesting.
#2 Make a Target List
Never attend a networking event without deciding on the five to ten professionals with whom you will want to have conversations. Do your best to determine who will be attending this event in advance. If you can’t do that, have in your mind the type of person you want to find. What are your client’s titles? Look for those people at the event.
Also, prepare for what challenges you believe most of the execs will have moving into 2023 that you’d like to understand from them. This will help you to get them talking about things that really matter, rather than the normal chit-chat they’ll get from others. Be sure to listen! They will give you clues on what they might need from you.
Target execs who you believe you can help or offer a confidence-good: a prescient set of ideas a person can use or think about over the next several months that will help their business.
#3 Have Questions Ready
Organize a set of probing questions you’d like to ask of these professionals. Probing controls the conversation and is highly informational to the person with whom you are speaking. Here are some examples:
- How do you see 2023 at this time?
- Do you believe X, Y, and Z will present challenges?
- What’s essential in your efforts to overcome those challenges?
- How do you want your business to look by the end of Q2?
- What tailwinds are there?
#4 Know your Value
Create a thirty-second value statement that communicates what you enjoy doing professionally. Keep it concise and make sure YOU are motivated and proud of what you say. Start your statement with: “Here’s what I’m enjoying now.” Then video record yourself delivering it. This is a key step! Look and listen to your statement to be sure it’s relational, authentic, and motivating…and that you deliver it well!
#5 Have Case Studies at the Ready
Prepare two case studies that are emblematic of your unique skill in business. Actual case studies “sell” your value. The case studies should have three elements:
Set these to memory so that you have them at the ready when speaking with your networking targets.
Follow these steps…they work! Recently, I coached a great, disciplined lawyer-client who knew that she needed to be more organized going into an important networking event/dinner. We established nine probing questions to ask colleagues at this event along with a case study that highlighted her strong expertise in cryptocurrency. The result: my client enjoyed the event, felt she was very prepared for it, and created a list of successful people to follow up with that are interested in her counsel.
Try these five networking steps at your next opportunity…and let me know how it goes!