What does it mean to you – network of friends? Network of colleagues? Network of acquaintances? Here are five important things about networking we need a reminder for.
I was reading this article published in Time about 5 Tactics to Win a Negotiation, According to an FBI Agent and I thought to myself, “I think I’d have dead hostages within the first 10 minutes”.
Under such intense situations, it’s hard not to let our emotions (especially fears and instincts) get the better of us. There’s some high EQ work there.
“…we used our emotional intelligence and techniques based in psychology, empathy and counseling.”
The writer has a point, though, and it is something I can’t quite ignore. The psychology behind it works in our everyday life. Our relationships, friendships, and our conversations with our kids, families, acquaintances, business partners, life partners, friends, and even investors.
1. Building Valuable Connections, Not Hi’s-and-Byes
We all go out of our way to attend conferences, make new friends, go out for drinks with people we’ve just met, make small talk, exchange business cards, and then maybe link up on Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook.
That’s pretty much the end of some of the things we do when we network with people after a webinar, seminar, or group session.
If having a Rolodex or a pile of business cards makes you proud of your wide network of friends, you may need to relook at what you consider a ‘connection’.
The same goes for the number of friends you have on Facebook or followers on Twitter, Linkedin, or Instagram. The numbers don’t tell you much except that you’ve graced the shoulders of some people you may never speak to or meet again.
On social media, it simply means someone either left a link on your comments section or you’ve curiously popped by their profile page.
2. Positive Business Networking and Nurturing them
Just like a friendship, family, or community, it is a two-way street. You need to nurture them, check up on them, talk and listen to them, offer feedback, help and receive help from them.
If you’ve not met them for a couple of months after the initial exchange of cards, it won’t work out well if you suddenly ask them for a favor or pounce on them with an idea for a new business venture and ask for investments.
You actually need to make a human connection, care, be genuine, and take time to talk to them when you DON’T actually NEED anything from them. Someone who cares and understands the aspirations and goals of another person makes a good connection.
Even better, offer them help (even when they don’t really need it) and give them suggestions. A little goes a long way! Let’s just say a business relationship is still a relationship.
3. Holding Out a Helping Hand
I understand that businesses are not charities. I’ve only heard this a million times over in my career. When I try to help others, I would be told:
- You’ll regret this
- It’s not worth it
- This person is not what he/she pretends to be
- Business is not charity
- You’re giving it all away, you dumbass
- That’s money
It is common to find people leeching off of you when you’re in a good position. It’s a tough position to be in when you can’t differentiate between your real or fake friends.
When a new connection from your business network offers and extends help, mark it down somewhere in your calendar or to-do list…give back twice as much! This is especially true if you were the one who asked for a favor in the first place.
Nobody, and I really mean nobody, likes the feeling of being shortchanged or taken advantage of.
4. Don’t Overpromise and Underdeliver
I bet you’ve met more than your fair share of those who showcase their business prowesses to you during a business lunch and then when you need something, they promise you nothing.
Worse yet, they promise you something and it comes back as a disappointment.
Businesses are based on facts, figures, and data. They’re also based on promises, loyalty, and dignity, pride, and promises.
Most successful business owners don’t overpromise. They base their promises to deliver on facts and figures. Promising someone the sky is going to make you look awful in the near future when the carpet is lifted.
The worst thing is that they’ll never believe you again. So, if you promise someone to work together on something mutually beneficial, you can count on the fact that that someone is counting on you to deliver on that promise.
And if you can’t, it’s best to say it like it is.
5. Talk about your Company’s Values and Future
Yes, you can brag about your awards and accolades…that’s a given. But if you spend the entire night talking about it to everyone, people are going to think that’s all you have to show for it.
Instead, when you meet a new business acquaintance, talk about the goals, missions, visions, hopes, dreams, and values. Talk about how important your staff is to you, how you really love your products and development team, talk about how you aim to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.
Having worked in ‘progressive modern new-age businesses’, it was drilled into me that it’s all about data and profit. Although I think it is VERY IMPORTANT, emphasizing and talking incessantly about it with a new acquaintance is not a good idea.
Remember, at the end of the day, the new business connection is asking inside his head, ‘So, what’s in it for me, then?
6. Be Likable as a Person
That’s how some salespeople rake in more business than others – they’re easily likable, they listen, they have positive energy around them, they spread joy, they’re energetic, they welcome challenges, and on some level, they’re fearless.
Maybe that’s why Social Media Influencers tend to bring in better results than celebrities who promote products. YouTubers are simply more personable than celebrities whom we already know are faking a large part of their otherwise normal (but rich and glamorous) lives.
YouTubers or Social Media Influencers create a sense of community because there’s a deeper sense of intimacy compared to celeb endorsements.
“Collaborations with YouTube creators are 4X more effective at driving lift in brand familiarity than those with celebrities”– ThinkWithGoogle
What are the traits of a likable person?
- A good listener
- Have a positive attitude
- Willing to collaborate/work together
- Good with follow-ups
- Reliable and trustworthy
Don’t take it from me. Here’s a more detailed explanation about how to be good at networking from Entrepreneur.com. I don’t think articles like these are ever going to be out-dated.
7. Don’t Push it, it’s a Turn Off
I’ve been working remotely for decades and I know very well the pros and cons of remote working. I remain disciplined when it comes to work (because I don’t really have a choice if I want to make it work) but sometimes, there are more cons than pros to working remotely.
In tandem with my efforts to stay more connected with the people I work with, I report or check in every now and then. I either call them or message them.
Following up with someone is not equivalent to calling that person every day about the same thing, asking the same question over and over again. I bet you my bottom dollar (there isn’t much in there) that they’ll stop answering your phone calls or emails within….say, two weeks?
There’s only so much pushiness someone can take. Even the nicest of people.
I’ve had headhunters, potential business partners, or clients call me either in the dead of the night a couple of times a week, or message me a few times a day just to ask me the same thing.
According to experts, the most worthwhile business opportunities take time. Some take weeks, others take years!
Sometimes, you’ve got to have faith that, at the right time at the right place, the puzzle is going to fit right in. If it doesn’t, it wasn’t a good deal to begin with.
Yes, you could end up chasing your own tail but….that’s business for you.
It takes time to turn new business connections into a mutually beneficial one. You can’t rush the ripening of an apple and you can’t rush into businesses.
In fact, if it sounds too good to be true or you were promised a profit-generating business that will see you earning tight profits overnight, run.
Caveat: Unless you’re an investment banker or someone with Wall Street know-hows. That world, which I am not familiar with, works differently, and you will have to ask someone else for advice.
You don’t have to be Bill Gates for everyone to know you – I think that’s too much. It’s a good aspiration and he’s a good role model for some but not everyone’s made out to be Oprah, Ellen or Tony Robbins.
With the internet and its advancements in helping people connect with each other wherever they are, apps and software should be used to connect everyone and anyone at any time of the day.
I’ve used them for meetings and we’ve (my family) just used it to wish my sons and mother a Happy Birthday (it’s not a joke that their birthdays fall on April 1st…all three of them). I’ve also worked with people from all over the world since…I don’t know..2005?
Here’s one thing I’ve noticed about networking online compared to offline: we tend to take the timing for online networking for granted.
While you can grab your colleague from her cubicle for a flash meeting, you can’t do the same with someone thrown across the other side of the globe.
It has to be scheduled carefully and we need to respect the timeline. In fact, even if you’re in the same time zone, respecting a scheduled meeting or call is a must to make good connections for your business and personal life.
For more on how to network effectively online, check out this article from Aaron Orendorff on Business Insider.
So, here’s a quick recap about this article and I hope it helps you build better connections for yourself and your business online and offline.
- Building valuable connections that last
- Respecting each others’ opinions, feedback, and potential criticisms
- It’s more than an exchange of business cards
- Care about the other person
- Give more than you take
- Keep in contact with each other, even if it’s a five-minute catchup
- Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. It’s a turn-off
- Talk about values, dreams and the future aspirations of your company (and yourself, of course)
- Listen and listen DEEP!
- It’s NOT always about money and profits
- Be a likable person, not fake
- Be positive
- Don’t call or email every day. They’ll find it annoyingly pushy
Wishing you all the best! I know some of you, like me, are stuck at home during this scary Coronavirus spread and I would like to remind everyone that, above wealth, health is the most important thing in life. That…and love.