Does the following scenario sound familiar? You attend a large event touted as the best networking event in town. You meet a dozen or so “new” people, new to you that is, not new to everyone else, or so it would seem. You deliver your 30 second or longer elevator pitch over the ever-increasing din in the packed room. You go home with a handful of business cards. The next day or so you face the challenge of contacting all of your warm leads. If this is an activity that you aren’t fond of, that 200 pound phone handset can be quite daunting. “Hi, this is Rae. We met the other night at …” “Who?”
Okay, perhaps I am injecting my own inadequacies into this article but I really have heard people agree.
Here is a power networking technique to maximise your effectiveness. If your main purpose in attending a networking event is to get that handful of business cards, then go for it! An alternative option would be meet a business colleague or friend that you are comfortable with, in a setting that is conducive to conducting business and compare personal networks. “I’ll show you mine … if you show me your’s”, so to speak. For those that are old enough to recall trading baseball or hockey player cards, this isn’t what I am suggesting.
A planned approach is best. For example, I am looking for a bookkeeper/accountant to take on a volunteer role in a society that I lead. I would meet with somebody that I know has a background in finances and I could specifically ask them who they would know in their network that might meet my search parameters. At this preliminary stage it is a matter of brainstorming contact’s names. Write them down on a piece of paper. This isn’t the time to be evaluating each name as to whether they might be interested in participating, your only task at this point is to generate a list of names.
The idea is to leverage your colleague’s network. With social media being so prevalent nowadays, many of us are well connected. Well-connected doesn’t mean that we actually know or have even met the contact though. More of an e-contact if you will. It probably wouldn’t be much of a surprise to find that you already know some of the names generated and they are part of your network.
Our next step is to rate each of the names that we have generated as to how well your colleague knows the individual. Would the individual be surprised if you contacted them saying that they were referred by your colleague? Or would your contacting the individual trigger a “Who?” response.
Generating a list of names isn’t of much use unless you get their accompanying contact info. Now is the time to leverage your connections and make that net work. Make those phone calls.
PS: Don’t forget to spend some time helping your colleague with their networking measures. While it can be said “It’s not who you know … it’s who knows you!”, perhaps we need to amend it to “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you know who you know!”