There are three things that set any business person apart from the rest of the pack.
- The energy she carries.
- The situational knowledge she has.
- How she leverages relationship capital, not only of herself but of others.
Many young professionals have a shortage of experience or situational knowledge; they also lack a huge network of relationship capital. Having this capital is all a variable of time, nothing else. But, by putting an effort into networking, anyone can accelerate her success.
This is where the energy that you carry comes into play. Relationship capital is an immensely valuable part of business success. And one of the best ways to build this asset is to put your energy, intention and attention on networking. Energy makes it, quote-unquote "network," meaning the energy that you carry is what makes your connections work.
Energetic first stepsThe first step when you have identified an event, a place or a situation where you can network is simply to put yourself into the right frame of mind. First, think of yourself as an equal. You mustn't think of yourself as separate, inferior or even superior. Don't fall victim to your ego! Envision yourself on a level playing field.
If you don't have the right energy before you step into a networking or connection situation, then you must shift your energy. I can't tell you how many times that I've entered a room of my own family where I've felt separate, inferior or superior. And it always tends to make situations worse. This is why we must first have our energy aligned and be connected as one. You must feel like you belong, especially if you're younger and you don't have many relationships that you can leverage. If you don't carry the right energy when networking, you will not be very successful.
Bring your valueWhen you walk into a room, you want people to feel and know that you provide value, and can be of service. Also that you're radically humble and can ask for help. I want the energy that I carry to utilize the 100/20 Rule: Everyone who speaks with me or meets me knows that I'm giving much more value than I'm asking for.
Networking will be easier if you have a simplified approach to your interactions or connections. Once you have the right energy, make sure you maintain eye contact, smile and always have at least one question to ask.
Second, that emotionWhen formulating your question, remember that people "buy" on emotion for logical reasons. Therefore, it's a good idea to connect emotionally. Emotion is energy in motion. There are numerous ways to establish an emotional connection from the outset. You can share a passion for a sports team, for the place where you grew up or the community you serve. If you both have children, you can talk about their school activities. Or anything that's important to you, and in common with the other person.
Finally, when networking, be "more interested than interesting." Simply put: Find out what they know, rather than showing off what you know.
A key part of networking is making sure you have a simple system in place to keep track of the people you meet. That way you can easily keep in touch with them and deepen your emotional connection.
Exchange contact numbers on the spot by having them call your mobile phone with theirs. In the same day you meet them, send an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. At home, or in your office, do not file business cards alphabetically. Rather, put them in order of importance -- or strongest influence -- or in the order of generating most to least ROI. And keep them in plain sight on your desk as a reminder to follow up.
Remember when putting together your system: The universe loves simple.
Making new relationships ... indirectlyOne of the best ways to build new relationships is a bit counterintuitive in that you do not interact directly. I learned this from my mentor, Leigh Steinberg, when we were recruiting athletes at his sports agency. We utilized spheres of influence. In other words, we leveraged the connection someone else had to the people we wanted to meet. It's an organic and authentic way to meet an important person you can't just pick up the phone and call.
What many people fail to realize is that having an individual who's more than one degree of separation from your target prospect can be more effective than you actually pitching your target. This is because now you have an unbiased, credible referral source who is aligned with your vision.
Network and thriveWhen you can effectively connect without the ego's need of being separate, inferior or superior, you leverage more than just your situational knowledge, you include others' as well. Not only can your relationship capital, and that of your mentors, help to accelerate your networking (and career) but utilizing the spheres of influence can, too. Most importantly, make a point to connect emotionally, then develop a process or system to continue to connect to those people emotionally. For example, if you connected on both of your kids' school activities, you can check in once in a while to inquire about their progress.
When you effectively connect to others and provide value, you can easily connect to what inspires both of you. If you bring the right energy to your networking and connect to goodness, you'll exponentially experience more success and happiness.
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