For those of you who are new to networking and for those of you who think you know everything about networking, I thought I would take tonight’s editorial space to distinguish for you the 3 kinds of networking. (And, no, I won’t have a Rick Perry brain freeze on the 3rd one.)
The first kind of networking is identifying new networking contacts. The recommended way to do this at networking meetings of all kinds is to introduce yourself to people you don’t know. Remember, strangers are only friends you haven’t met.
It really is pretty painless. You just say: “Hi, I’m Matt Bud.” (Be sure to use your name and not mine.) Step two of this is to ask a question. If they have a company name on their badge, ask them what the company does. Once they answer that question, ask them what they do for the company. Sooner or later, they will tire of talking about themselves and ask about you. They might even be so bold as to offer you a business card. And, if you are of a mind to do so, you might want to give them one of yours in return. (I’m sure yours will be a valuable collector’s item someday, so don’t give them two, because you want to ensure scarcity.)
If you can’t get out of the house for some reason, you can make new friends by using The FENG’s Member Directory Search feature and look up firms where you have worked and firms that were your firm’s competitors. You don’t absolutely have to know anyone you contact. If you do targeted networking to find folks with something in common with you, you will find your communications generally welcome. This same approach can be used on LinkedIn.
The second kind of networking is saying hello to all of your old friends. (Most of my friends are old, but I digress.) Friendships need nurturing. While it is best not to spend a lot of time with folks you already know, if you don’t take the time to “press the flesh,” they might feel that you don’t love them or that they aren’t appreciated. As you know, everyone has written across their chest: “I want to feel important.” In addition to face to face meetings, you also need to be putting out a weekly artillery barrage (personalized, of course) to those you already know. Any excuse will do.
The third and the most important kind of networking is introducing your friends to each other, as appropriate. If you subscribe to the idea that “birds of a feather flock together,” it is very likely that many of the people you know not only have something in common with you, but also have much in common with each other. Taking the time to introduce them to each other keeps your name and friendship at the top of their minds. And, each time they contact each other, it is likely your name is repeated again. (It’s usually in the context of “what was he thinking? Just kidding.)
Of course, if you are out and about networking, it is very possible you will get to know and like a few “odd balls.” If you meet enough of them, you may find two matches. No harm in introducing them to one another. If enough odd balls are introduced to one another by you, chances are good that they in turn know other odd balls who are just like you, and they will introduce you to them.
As you know, according to Murphy’s law, no good deed goes unpunished.
If you make the world all about you, you will end up being the only person in your universe. If on the other hand, you make the world all about the other people in it, you will have more friends than you know what to do with, although knowing how imaginative you are, you WILL find some way to benefit.
Please know, this has been my secret plan, and it is working very well.