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Networking is no longer the "good ol' boys" club nor is it appropriate
to pass your business card out to everyone you meet. Networking is a
much more savvy market today. Networking is not something you do; it
is an art you perfect. True networking will increase your business and
give you a solid base for years to come. So how do you network in the
To be effective in today's business you need to network by "personality
partnering". Remember you are not trying to only reach the person you
are speaking to, you want to have access to all the people they have
an influence over. Let your networking be defined by your personality
and life style, not by your work.
CAPTURE YOUR AUDIENCE'S INTEREST
Remember , you need to create a desire to hear more from you. Your first
line of introduction should tell people the benefit of working with
you, not how you do what you do. Karen Peterson has been with Hanson's
Goodies & Gifts, an 80 year old company, since she closed her own bakery
in the spring of 1994. Prior to that Karen was a customer of Hanson's
for 4 years. When I first met Karen her introduction was, "My name is
Karen Peterson and I'm with Hanson's Goodies & Gifts. We make gift baskets
filled with candy, nuts and goodies for every occasion." She found her
response from people was only mediocre at best. Today Karen says her
benefit statement of, "I can help provide you with the perfect gift
at the perfect time for any occasion without you ever having to leave
the office." Having a benefit statement gives her confidence because
it always rolls right off her tongue and it peaks interest. Matter-of-fact,
after saying her benefit statement at a recent women's network meeting,
Karen had two people come up to her to set appointments to purchase
FINDING YOUR PERSONALITY PARTNER
Do not network for people whose companies might be good prospects for
you. Instead try to find people in the room that have similar interests
to you. Similar interests include hobbies, vacations, parenting, experiences,
and travel to name a few. For years the "good ol' boys" network survived
because they were often built on a similar interest outside of work.
They were built on golf courses, basketball courts, churches and workout
rooms. Business happened as an afterthought. Do not begin by talking
ATTEND GREAT EVENTS
Churches, community events, ski clubs, golf courses, workout centers,
and Chambers of commerce are some of the best places to meet people
that have a similar personality and interests to yours. In Karen's situation
church, chamber events and community events would be great places to
"personality partner". These events would allow her to meet others,
be involved and display her gift baskets as centerpieces for different
USE UNCONVENTIONAL QUESTIONS
Your goal is to find out if your personality relates well to the person
you are talking with. In order to find this out, ask questions such
as, "What is your favorite hobby?", "Where was your best vacation and
why?", or "If you could relive one part of your life without changing
it, what time would you relive and why?" These are great icebreakers
when you are seated at a table with 7 other strangers. For Karen, a
great icebreaker is to ask people what big events they have upcoming
in their lives. This allows her to tell them about a basket that would
fit the occasion.
MATCH UP OTHERS
Diana Hoffman of Investor Mortgage spends much of her business time
managing a women's breakfast networking group. She invites people she
feels will match in personality and then starts each meeting with an
unconventional networking question. She finds people open up to each
other, and naturally refer business.
LIKE A GOOD NEIGHBOR
Being a good "personality partnering" networker is similar to being
a good neighbor. You do things for others because you genuinely like
them and see this as a long-term partnership, not a short-term business
venture. You will find the more you give, the more referrals people
will send your way. They might not be able to do buinsess with you themselves,
but they like you so they will want to help you. Think of how many things
you buy or do because a friend has recommended them to you.
SOLVE OR ENHANCE IT
Focus on helping them solve a problem they face or present new information
in an area they are interested in, and people will remember you. They
will appreciate your effort and try to pass business you way. Karen
helps people focus on upcoming anniversaries, birthdays and other important
events in their lives. She is then able to solve their problem by presenting
a choice of baskets that can be mailed or delivered for those occasions.
People feel grateful they are able to be thoughtful about sending a
gift while still meeting all of their work deadlines.
When you go to your next networking event, use it as an opportunity
to find others who think, feel and act similar to you. Begin with your
personality and lifestyle in mind and let work be an afterthought. The
more you practice this, the more the other person will be asking for
your card without you even suggesting business and you will make business
partners as well as friends. MB & O
Anne Warfield is president of Impression Management Professionals.
She helps people project the positive, physical and mental image necessary
to reach their goals.
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