Power Networking Blog

Referral Groups Two women networkingYou have done your research and decided upon a referral group that works for you. So now what? How do you get value out of your membership?

Strategy One: Develop your 30 second to one minute elevator pitch. Most groups will allow you that much time to promote yourself. Practice saying it out loud, even to family members or the family pet if they will listen. The intent is that you become comfortable saying it without getting nervous. This will go a long way in reducing the performance anxiety that often accompanies shyness.

HandshakeMeeting somebody for the first time as in a networking situation can often leave you stuck for words. Your counterpart delivers their elevator pitch and then as they pause to catch their breath they utter “so what do you do?” You go on to deliver your well rehearsed pitch for your business. But did the two of you really communicate?

Communication is a two way process. While the other person is sharing their story, you need to be listening closely to them. This isn’t the time to be practicing your own story in your head. This is the time to listen. Imagine that there will be a test after your partner delivers their personal story. Besides trying to figure out what their business is about, you should be listening for statements or beliefs that are similar to yours. Perhaps you have had similar experiences as they have described.

CyberbullyIf you are actively marketing and promoting yourself on-line as a part of your networking efforts the likelihood of encountering a cyber bully increases exponentially. It is simply a matter of numbers, the more people that you network with the higher the odds of encountering one.

Cyber bullying has featured prominently lately in the media with the unfortunate suicides of several teens in North America. As adults we aren’t immune to the same tactics that these bullies use.

So what is a “cyberbully”?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia … Cyberbullyingis the use of the Internet and related technologies to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner.

Name DroppingDoes this sound familiar? You are at a business networking session and you are captivated by a speaker who wants to regale you with a litany of important people that they have supposedly recently spent time with. “Oh, the other day I had coffee with the Mayor …” “I was just saying the very same thing to my good friend XXX, you know that he owns half the town.” “Yeah, my best friend is the Crown Attorney and she was telling me …”

To coin a phrase … “blah, blah, blah, yaddey, yaddey, yaddey!”

Close Encounters of the networking kindHave you ever wondered how close to stand to another person when conversing in a 1 to 1 at a business networking session? Okay, maybe I do have too much spare time as they say but I am sure that this is a question that many people have asked.

While I don’t have a definitive answer, I do have some thoughts on the matter. Many factors including gender, culture, trust, past experiences and self-confidence come into play.

Looking at it from a self-defence, self-preservation perspective, it is helpful to think of each of us having an invisible circle or a safety zone around us. As a preservation measure we tend to keep strangers outside of our safety zone and only let people we trust or are comfortable with into our comfort zone.

Business card exchangeIt can be a great feeling when coming home from a networking event and looking at the stack of business cards you have collected. You even spoke at length to many of the card-donators. Some, it can be a little difficult to recall who they actually were. “Now was he the tall fellow with the bad hair piece …. or was he…?” You’ve probably experienced that scenario more than once. And you know what … perhaps some of the business people that you gave your precious business card to have been thinking something similar. Hopefully not about your bad hair though.

Talking on TelephoneI am sure that most of us have heard of the practice of reading a message scrawled on a public restroom wall of “For a good time call …” There is a usually a phone number accompanying the message. In all likelihood the individual mentioned is not aware of the advertising being done on their behalf nor would they likely agree with it. More than likely it was scrawled by an adolescent male, driven by testosterone and thinking it was pretty funny. Having not spent any time in the women’s restroom I can only assume that this practice only happens in the men’s.

If the individual named actually wrote the message in question well I guess it could be attributed to some savvy targeted marketing.

Serendipidty isn't a networking plan.I’ve often heard it said in reference to “self-help” books … “If you get only one gem or a useful tip from a book it makes all of your reading time worthwhile.” While that may be true, it can have you spending a lot of time with your nose in a book.

The same principal can be applied … inefficiently … to your networking activities … “One contact can make a world of difference in your business …” In essence you are leaving your success to serendipity.

Serendipity, or leaving everything to chance, while awe-inspiring when it works, is not something that you can control or count on.

So Whats Your Story?“Nice day eh?”

“To bad about the Canucks!”

“Isn’t this weather something?”

We have heard them all before … meaningless comments that are more likely to end a conversation than to advance it.

For the many people that we encounter during our daily travels perhaps this is all that is needed. If we had long drawn out conversations with everyone, we likely wouldn’t accomplish everything that we need to in a day.

Johnny Appleseed knew what he was doing ...Legend has it that Johnny Appleseed traveled the American countryside spreading apple seeds randomly, everywhere he went.

In fact, according to Wikipedia, he planted nurseries rather than orchards, built fences around them to protect them from livestock, left the nurseries in the care of a neighbor who sold trees on shares, and returned every year or two to tend the nursery.

Many people’s business networking activities can be a lot like randomly spreading those apple seeds. Some might grow but most likely left to their own, they will fail to develop and eventually die off.

Relationships need to be nurtured. Often the word cultivated is used to describe what needs to take place for a relationship to grow. Both words are really describing an active interest, desire and taking action oriented steps to develop a relationship with another individual.

So how does one cultivate a relationship? I have some cynical colleagues who would say that would treat them the same way as you would cultivate mushrooms. You keep them in the dark and feed them BS [male cow manure.] I would suspect that they have few quality connections. I certainly wouldn’t want to be connected to them with that attitude.

Let’s leave the agriculture analogy for a while and go to back to the question of how does one cultivate a relationship?

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