Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Art of Networking

Whether you are looking for a new job, trying to win more business, or just need to find a solution to a challenge, networking is often the answer.
Most people need some help to capitalize on their own contacts, and certainly when calling strangers. Here's some key tips on how to get people to joyfully help you:
  • Walk in their shoes. Understand who they are, where they are in life, in business, and what motivates them. Be cognizant of their point of view at all times.
  • Create value in the conversation itself. Being asked for help can be a huge downer to the recipient of the call, or the bright spot in their day. How you come across makes the difference. Be cheerful, positive, flattering, thankful. Make it a joy to just talk with you.
  • Define the benefit to the buyer. Why should the networking target help you? How will it reflect well upon them to do so? How will the person they refer to you benefit from your ultimate request? You must have the answers to these critical questions, before you get on the phone.
  • Help people help you. When you call, out of the blue, your networking target isn't going to be immediately responsive to your request. They may need to think it through. Be prepared to offer prompts to stimulate their thinking, and help them figure out where and how they might know the person you're asking to find.
  • Give them time. Let them ponder your request, and offer to call back in 1-2 days. Providing this "deadline" will actually put them to work for you.
  • Offer to reciprocate. Suggest ways that you can be helpful in return, and actually be available when called upon.
  • Ask open-ended questions (who, what, why, where, how, when) not closed-ended questions (do you know anybody that….?). You don't want a yes/know answer – you want valuable information.
  • Be grateful – even if the new info, connection or lead is not useful – say thanks and mean it.
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