5 Killer “Hacks” for Networking at Events

by John Corcoran

Here are a 5 killer hacks for networking effectively at events:

1.  Commit Yourself to Helping Others. Before you go to any networking event, I want you to summon your most positive, can-do, helpful attitude, and I want you to not even think about getting clients, customers, or a new job. For some people, this may seem completely counter-intuitive. After all, isn’t the whole point of networking to get more business or to further your career?

The truth is, if you go into an in-person networking event just thinking about yourself, people will sniff you out in a heartbeat. You’ll stand out more than Bugs Bunny dressed up as a girl.

Conversely, if you commit yourself to helping others in any way possible – be it a restaurant recommendation, or a tech tip, or a book suggestion – you will be more human and people will want to help you in return.

Here’s the “hack” part – after your event, email at least 1 or 2 people you met at the event with a tip, advice, resource, or some other way to help, based on what you learned about them. This one little step will go a long way.

2.  Make An Introduction.  I love introducing people. If you introduce two people and they hit it off, they will always be grateful to you. Trust me on this – my parents first met on a blind date.

And people who you have introduced to someone else are more likely to return the favor. This works even with people you just met at an in-person networking event.

3. Connect with People Over their Families.  You know that saying, “the easiest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”?  Well, I believe the easiest way to a networking partner’s heart is through their immediate family members.

At most networking events, people talk about work-related or industry-related subjects. That’s what everyone else does, but you don’t need to do that. You can really distinguish yourself by talking about a person’s spouse or family, if you get the right opportunity.

If you just met someone and start asking about a person’s family without the proper opening, they’re probably just going to think you’re a weirdo. But if you do get an opening, then asking about a person’s family and looking for opportunities to help their children or spouse is an excellent hack for getting to know them a lot better.

4.  If You Are Shy or Introverted, Focus on Others. I get asked a lot about what advice I have for people who really hate networking because they are shy or introverted. If you are really shy and don’t like meeting new people, then the best advice I can give you is that the best conversationalists often don’t talk much at all.

People love talking about themselves, and if you ask a lot of questions and take a lot of interest in them, you don’t have to be a good conversationalist. Most people will enjoy the opportunity to speak about themselves to a captive audience.  And they will enjoy speaking with you.

5.  Use the 80/20 Rule for Following Up. If you were to measure the amount of time most people spend on networking activities aimed at meeting new people vs. the amount of time they spend following up with the people they already know, you’d be shocked at how imbalanced it is.

People spend too much time trying to meet new people and too little time following up with and nurturing relationships with people they already know.

In fact, your efforts should be the other way around: use the 80/20 rule (aka the Pareto Principle) to further and develop relationships with your existing network.

This in turn will lead to meeting new people because people who you already know are more likely to be a gateway for you to their friends and connections.

After all, you have already spent time and energy getting to know people in your network and they have already (presumably) grown to know, like and trust you.

So be sure to spend time and energy networking with people who are in your network already.

John Corcoran is an attorney, former Clinton White House Writer, and creator of SmartBusinessRevolution.com, where he writes on how to network effectively.

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Top 10 Traits of Master Networkers

Ever wonder why some people excel at business networking? Often the characteristics that lead to excellent business networking carry over into personal relationships. Dr. Ivan Misner’s book The 29% Solution identifies the Top Ten Traits of a Master Networker. Here they are:

  1. Timely follow-up on referrals:  Following up with what you say you’re going to do , when you say you’re going to do it, builds your credibility and trust.
  2. Positive Attitude: Positive attitudes are contagious.  People want to be around you.  Being positive contributes to your determination, internal motivation, and ultimate business success.
  3. Enthusiasm: Enthusiastic and motivated people make things happen for themselves – and for the people they know.
  4. Trustworthiness: Trust, as we have been taught, is earned.  It develops over time and throughout the time of a relationship.  Trust is the foundation of your Credibility.
  5. Good listening skills: Listening and understanding the needs and problems of others can position you to engage the services of people you know. Communication well takes focus and effective listening.
  6. Commitment to Networking 24/7: Master Networkers are never formally of duty.  Networking is so natural to them that they can be found networking in the grocery store line, doctor’s office and at their children’s school and well as in networking functions.  They operate on the Givers Gain mind-set where ever they are.
  7. Gratitude:  Thanking others at every opportunity will help you stand out from the crowd.  Expressing sincere gratitude to the people who will one day be there to help you is not just a courtesy — it’s the right thing to do.
  8. Helpfulness: Master networkers keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities to advance other people’s interests because they really want to.  Master networkers get joy out of helping other people succeed.
  9. Sincerity: Those who have developed successful networking skills conver their sincerity at every turn. No multi-tasking here. Master networkers give their full attention to the task at hand. Make eye contact when you are speaking to people in person. Sincerely show that you care and give your complete attention to the person in front of you.
  10. Dedicated to Working One’s Network: Master networkers don’t let any opportunity to work their networks pass them by. They set up appointments to get better acquainted with new contacts and learn about them quickly so the path to Visibility and Credibility can be initiated.  This is particularly true with respect to new members in our BNI chapter.
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Build Business with This Networking Trick

by Ivan Misner, February 9, 2015

One of the most common networking questions I get asked is, “How do I generate referrals for other people?”  Well, this same question is exactly what I was asking myself in the early ’80s when I was just starting my consulting business. I came up with a technique that had a huge impact on my ability to provide quality referrals to others–which, of course, led to me getting referrals.

I realized that I needed to be the person whom people came to if they needed a referral for anything–the “gatekeeper” of referrals . . .  the “go-to guy.”  So I composed a letter that I sent out to my client list several times a year.  Today you could send out a quick e-mail to your database, but you should send it at least once a year as hard copy just to stand out from everybody else who’s e-mailing your clients.  Here’s a sample letter:

Dear________:

I really believe in the process of referrals, so part of the service I provide is to be sure to refer my clients and associates to other qualified businesspeople in the community.

Attached is a list of areas in which I know very credible, ethical and outstanding professionals.  If you’re looking for a professional in a specific area I’ve listed, please feel free to contact me.  I will be glad to put you in touch with the people I know who provide these services.

Sincerely,

Dr. Ivan Misner

Notice when you read this letter that I just listed professions; I didn’t list names and phone numbers.  I wanted my clients to contact me so I could put the referral and the contact together–so I could build business relationships through being the go-to guy.  What began to happen was that others would ask someone on my client list, “Whom do you know who does XYZ?”  If they didn’t know anyone, then they would send that person to me.

The importance of becoming a gatekeeper is huge for anyone seeking to grow a business with word-of-mouth marketing.  It’s a strategy that gets people not only to contact you for a referral, but also to open up a dialogue with people about what your business is all about and how you can help them.  This, in turn, leads to more business with existing clients and new business with prospects.

Allow this to open the door for reciprocal sharing and giving.  You’ll be amazed at how much more business you’ll find you’re able to do as a result.

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