“We don’t meet people by accident. They are meant to cross our path for a reason.” This blissful sentiment makes a nice screen saver. But, how in the world does it create value? According to Louis Pasteur, legendary scientist, “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” Successful professionals seeking necessary relationships to achieve their goals prepare to accept good fortune. Meanwhile, ordinary folks remain amazed how high achievers always meet the right people. Master networkers who 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 pierce that tactic by intentionally discovering where to contact their target themselves. Successful networking is not introductions to powerful people, but rather engaging powerful individuals in conversation! For example, if Mr. Big Shot has a book signing, then purchase multiple books on site as gifts for influential business contacts. Despite Mr. Big Shot’s gracious and inspiring comments to the audience, he is there to sell books! While signing multiple books for you, you get extra time with him. You do not have long, so prepare great open-ended questions revealing a personal interest in his continued success. Your purpose is to be valuable and memorable, so you can connect again.
Too often over-eager professionals ruin opportunities to connect. Remember to be yourself! Authenticity is essential in any relationship. The stakes escalate when approaching a professional who can impact your career or business significantly. If your target is a speaker at a luncheon or dinner, understand that a receiving line forms after the presentation. Consequently, your opportunity has a limited timeframe. Prepare a comment, question, or insight that serves Ms. Incredible’s individual interests; then casually deliver it. It is fine if she delegates your follow-up. You still earned the right to connect later. Fundraisers represent exceptional opportunities to connect strategically. Whether sharing a comment about a silent auction item, or wandering onto the practice green near your target at a celebrity golf tournament, do not talk business! Casual conversations and empathetic listening will reveal more about a networking target than your cleverest closing technique. Your target will never buy, hire, trial, or invest at this event. But the more that you connect genuinely, the greater the likelihood of follow-up conversations. Successful complex sales require multiple contacts. Be authentic in earning them.
Patience involves strategy, preparation, then action. It is not waiting idly. Sitting in a gym does not make you healthier, any more than waiting quietly makes you patient. Pursuing a goal through purposeful and planned steps generates results. We call it strategically bumping into someone, not randomly bumping into someone. The more prominent your target, 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 routinely shift. Emergencies happen that de-prioritize your connection. But periodic reminders and intentionally identifying subsequent opportunities to strategically bump into Dr. Wonderful enables you to stay on his list, even if not at the top. Patience plus endurance equals success!
Successful strategies require a plan. Use these techniques at the next conference, mixer, luncheon or fundraiser. Are you and your target one connection apart? Provide an incentive for that one connection to facilitate an introduction. Be intentional, be authentic, be patient in elevating your network’s quality. Strategically place yourself where you can bump into 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