“We don’t meet people by accident. They are meant to cross our path for a reason.” This sweet sentiment makes a nice screen saver. It offers a warm feeling with a shot of good fortune. But, how in the world does this create value? According to Louis Pasteur, legendary scientist, “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” Successful professionals seeking necessary relationships to achieve their goals will gladly accept good fortune. Ordinary folks are often amazed at how high achievers always seem to meet the right people. Such master networkers that appear in front of the right people at the right time are just plain lucky. Then again, maybe not!
Lazy networkers often try to connect with someone who can make an introduction to their target. Strategic networkers blast through that basic tactic in favor of intentionally discovering where they can personally contact their target. Successful networking is not introductions to powerful people, but rather engaging a specific individual in conversation! For example, if Mr. Big Shot is having a book signing then purchase multiple books on site to give as gifts to your influential business contacts. Do not get lost in Mr. Big Shot’s gracious and inspiring comments to the audience. He is there to sell books! If he signs multiple books for you, you get extra time with him. You do not have long, so come prepared with great open-ended questions revealing a personal interest to contribute to his continued success. Your purpose is to be memorable, so you can connect again.
Too often connection opportunities are ruined by over-eager professionals. After determining when a networking target will be accessible and preparing to communicate in a memorable matter, remember to be yourself! Authenticity is critical in any relationship. The stakes escalate when approaching a professional with the ability to improve your career or business significantly. If your target is the keynote speaker at a luncheon or dinner, understand that a receiving line will form after the presentation. Consequently, your opportunity exists in a limited timeframe. Prepare your comment, question, or casual idea to serve Ms. Incredible’s best interests, then casually deliver. It is fine if she delegates your follow-up, because you have then just earned the right to connect later. Fund raisers exemplify great opportunities to connect strategically. Whether initiating a conversation about a silent auction item, or wandering onto the practice green near your target at a celebrity golf tournament, do not talk about business! Casual conversations featuring empathetic listening will reveal more about networking targets than your cleverest closing technique. Your target is never going to buy, hire, trial, or invest at this event. But the more that you connect genuinely, the greater the likelihood of follow-up conversations. Successful sales requires multiple contacts. Be authentic in earning them.
Patience is not waiting idly until something happens. Patience involves strategy, preparation and action. Sitting in a gym does not make you healthier, any more than waiting quietly makes you patient. In both cases pursuing a goal through purposeful and planned steps generates results. After all, we call it strategically bumping into someone, not randomly bumping into someone. The more prominent your target is, the more patient you must be. High achievers tend to be more captive to their calendar. Ironically, their schedules tend to be more fluid. Priorities constantly shift. Emergencies happen frequently that de-prioritize your connection. But periodic reminders and intentionally identifying the next opportunity to strategically bump into Mr. Big Shot enables you to stay on his list, even if not at the top. Patience requires endurance. And, the reward is success!
Like all success strategies, have a plan. Use these techniques at your next conference, mixer, luncheon or fundraiser. Are you and your target one connection apart? Then provide an incentive for that one connection to help with an introduction. Be intentional, be authentic, be patient in elevating your network’s quality. Relationships are cultivated and business is transacted based on these principles. Strategically place yourself and your plan in the same environment with your most desirable targets. Connect emotionally by focusing on their benefit before expecting to receive anything back. Now ask!
By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter And Beyond