"Networking is a state of mind. You must always keep in mind those
people to whom you can refer others. In order to receive the benefits
of networking, you must first give." This philosophy of networking
began my chapter, "Networking: Nuisance or Necessity?" in The Sales
Coach: Selling Tips from the Pros. Networking is my passion, my pleasure,
and my best sales tool!
Whether we write or speak or work at home or work in corporate America,
we are all salespeople. How successful we are depends on our attitude
toward others and our willingness to help others better themselves.
Brian Tracy, well-known speaker and author, has said: "Your success
is largely due to the number of people who know you favorably." Proactive
networking is an excellent way to positively impress others. When
we create that good impression, when others know us as a resource,
they are more likely to refer their contacts and clients to us.
1985 marked the year I risked it all and launched Positive Connections®
(formerly The Haggerty Group), my speaking and consulting business.
My first two clients were a company I had worked with while at AT&T
and one of the AT&T Sales Divisions. During my tenure at AT&T, I had
carefully nurtured the relationships with these two groups. Nurturing
means carefully tending, gently handling, and valuing the relationship.
Valued relationships are to be cherished and cultivated so that they
grow strong and fruitful. Scripture teaches, "For if you give, you
will get! Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure,
pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over.
Whatever measure you use to give - large or small - will be used to
measure what is given back to you."
Networking is also a process that can be learned and followed assiduously.
There are four basic steps: Principal, Process, Place, and Practice.
The Principal has been stated previously. The next step is the Process.
Process: Determine the answers to the following questions:
- Why am I networking?
- Who will I be networking with?
- What am I able to give to the process?
- What do I hope to gain?
- When will I network?
Next set goals for networking. Decide on a particular time of day
or the week when you will proactively network. Set up a system for
tracking the contacts you make, whether the old standard, the Rolodex∆,
or one of the new computer-based systems such as Act!∆ or Goldmine∆
or Daytimer Organizer∆. Prepare the tools of networking - business
cards, thank you notes, brochures. Make sure that your materials are
professional and reflect you. Remember that we want to make Positive
Place: Where can we network? The possibilities are endless!
- Chambers of Commerce
- Writers' Conferences
- Social Clubs and Churches
- Networking Groups
- Professional Associations
- Charitable Organizations
In other words, networking can happen any time in any place with
anyone! A few months ago, I was standing in the lobby of a hotel in
Charleston waiting for the airport shuttle to arrive. Gazing around
the lobby, I spied a woman lifting a beautiful silver and royal blue
necklace from a shopping bag and looking at it admiringly. Those are
my favorite colors and I exclaimed to her, "My,, what a pretty necklace!"
Five little words! We began one of those hotel lobby conversations
we sometimes have with people whom we will never see again - she asked
me if I was going to the airport and,, if so, would I like to share
the car she had coming? I gratefully accepted her invitation.
As we were loading our luggage into the car, she chirped to me, "And
what do you do?" My spirits plummeted. I was tired from a long trip,
and I didn't want to go into sales mode, so I tried to be brief. "I'm
a professional speaker, but I wasn't here speaking. I was helping
a friend." "Oh, really?" she exclaimed delightedly. "I come to these
conferences looking for speakers for my company!" My inner voice sighed,
"Why now? I'm so tired. I don't want to do this!" We got into the
car and as we glided off to the airport, she queried, "What do you
speak about?" In a totally negative state of mind, I handed her my
business card and mumbled that my speeches were listed on the back.
She read down the list of talks and asked, "Right Person, Right Job
- what's that all about?" At that point I gave up and realized I was
getting into the conversation whether I wanted to or not. I explained
that many of my consulting clients had been burned in the hiring/firing
process, that I had found some objective assessments to use in the
process, and that the speech taught a better methodology for hiring
employees. "Really!" she excitedly interrupted. "I have to hire someone
next week and I can't afford to make a mistake! Please overnight me
the marketing materials for these assessments."
When I got home, I sent her the materials - she liked them and purchased
the software and the assessments. Next she hired me to come out and
spend two days with her department to facilitate team building in
the group. The day I returned from that engagement, I received a call
from another group in the same company asking when I could come back
and do the same for them! Five little words - brought me almost two-thirds
of my revenues for the past year - brought me a new friend and a positive
relationship - and I wasn't even trying!
Practice: To be successful at networking, practice is critical.
First impressions are important, so keep in mind that you only have
one opportunity to make a positive first impression. There are several
guidelines to follow that help make the practice perfect!
- Keep business cards with you at all times, along with a pen for
jotting down notes on the cards you receive to help you remember
where and why you have them.
- Have a "TMAY" - "Tell Me About Yourself." Practice a short phrase
that will enable you to respond professionally and in a manner that
will attract interest and lead you into a meaningful conversation.
- Remember the 3-Foot Rule - anyone within three feet (about the
length of a handshake) is a prospect and possible contact for you.
- Always smile at people - it's contagious!
- Have fun - you never know when you'll meet a "new best friend!"
Networking is a state of mind - the principal, process, place, and
practice will enable you to "impress people favorably!"
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