Building a Networking Relationship: 5 of 7

 

Getting people to “Know, Like, and Trust” you is dependent upon human interaction. Remember, however, your network (or any network, for that matter) is built one relationship at a time.

There is an Indian proverb that says, “An eagle that chases two rabbits, catches none.” This is true of relationships as well. You will not be able to develop lasting Know, Like, and Trust if you are focused on multiple relationships at any one time. In fact, the more relationships you attempt to develop at once, the less effective you become.

The point to this topic is this: As you are out being involved, do not feel the need to race about meeting as many people as possible … having quick, shallow conversations … collecting business cards and then haphazardly following up with a plethora of people you can hardly remember.

Rather work to have involved conversations with just a few people (and then attend another gathering and do the same). Learn about people. Invest time in who they are. Be genuinely interested. Conduct yourself so that when you follow up, you can do so with substance.

By working to develop relationships one person at a time, you become more effective developing relationships, in short people will Know, Like, and Trust you.

Building a Networking Relationship: 4 of 7

 

An often overlooked means of getting people to “Know, Like, and Trust” you is Getting Involved.

To be a successful in any business or profession, you cannot just hole-up in front of your computer and work the phone. You need to shower up, brush your teeth, and get out amongst people. Find groups and organizations to join.

Know this, however, you cannot just belong. You cannot just be in the community. You cannot just be in the Chamber. You cannot just be part of the Church. You cannot just belong.

To effectively network … to develop strong relationships … to build Know, Like, and Trust, you have to get involved. Roll up your sleeves (actually or figuratively) and lend a hand. Be an officer in a group. Be a committee member of an organization. Be something (anything) more than just a name on a membership roster.

Here is the test as to whether you are sufficiently involved – Answer this: If you didn’t show up, would you be missed?

If the answer is no, you need to work harder to get involved. By doing so, you raise your level of exposure and demonstrate your level of commitment to something more than just you. When you do these things, others will not be able to help but Know, Like,

Creating A Referral Machine 1 of 7

keep the gearsCreating A Referral Machine 1 of 7

You are ambitious. You are savvy. You want to be more successful. You want to work smarter and not harder. You know that referrals are the means of achieving that. Referrals are the most effective means of creating this greater success.

The best place to be in business, (any business or profession) is the point where your new clients are almost exclusively generated from people in your network. These are friends, colleagues, strategic partners and even former clients sending you prospective clients.

At this point, your network becomes your sales force. In short, you have effectively created a referral machine and that machine (i.e., your network) is working for you, even when you are not working.

This begs the question, “How do I create a referral machine?” We start on this in Part 2.

Networking And Stone Soup

Networking And Stone Soup

In Marcia Brown’s old tale, entitled Stone Soup, plague-ridden villagers were stingy with their food and had no interest in sharing with anyone but their own.

This begins to change, however, when a peddler tells the villagers that he would like to share some stone soup with them (essentially throwing a few rocks in boilinV (Soup)g water). This action, along with some goading words, moved villagers to become generous — one by one sharing. A head of cabbage here, some salt beef there, and voilá, before long there was a large brew collectively made and fit to feed all of them.

Brown essentially suggests that generosity and altruism are contagious. Is this just a hopeful fable? Or is there any truth to this assertion? Nicholas A. Christakis, M.D., Ph.D. and James H. Fowler, Ph.D tested this assertion and shared their results in their book Connected.

These researchers took a set of 120 students who were put into groups of four. The groups’ individuals were given some money to be used to perform an exercise composed of a series of tasks. Participants both profited and lost via these tasks in a capitalistic exercise. After each exercise, however, the individuals had the option of giving some funds to others at the expense of their own.

After each exercise, the groups were mixed up so that no two groups were ever the same throughout the experiment. In the first few rounds of exercises, no money was gifted.

Amongst the participants, however, was a plant — someone in on the experiment. This person we will refer to as the “Stone Soup Peddler.” After certain exercises, the Stone Soup Peddler started to systematically give away some of the money to others.

In the exercises that followed this exhibition of generosity, the people who benefited from the gift, gave more. In addition, even the people who witnessed the gifting, but did not directly benefit began giving more. These altruistic gestures then began to spread through the group.

In business, no doubt, you are dependent upon others giving to you. You look for others to give you information. You look for people to share referrals with you. You need people to share insights and ideas with you.

Acts of generosity, however, are inspired somehow. That is people do not just give. Rather people are moved to give somehow, some way.

As the story of  or the Christakis-Fowler study illustrates, you have the power to inspire generosity through your own generosity. The substance of the act does not matter. What does matter, however, is that you act, as this simple gesture becomes contagious. You can literally inspire your entire network with one small act to literally anyone. A simple referral. An introduction. Sharing of insight or information.

Any or all of this will inspire your network to give to others. In so doing, not only will you have done something wonderful, but you will also be in close proximity when the generosity begins to materialize.

Network Pyramid Capstones

DiagramThere are many of these experiments and studies that offer wonderful insight as to how you can both become better at networking as well as have a better network. Here is one in particular.

In the 1960’s, Harvard social psychologist, Stanley Milgram studied what he termed the “small world” problem. He wanted to gain a better understanding of how people were connected to one another.

In one experiment, he sent to 160 randomly selected individuals in Omaha, Nebraska a packet with the name and address of a stockbroker who worked in Boston (and lived in Sharon, Massachusetts). Milgram instructed each individual to write their name on the roster in the packet and then mail the packet to a friend or acquaintance who they thought would get it closer to the stockbroker, and so on until it reached the Boston broker.

On average the packets reached the broker in six steps (thus the phrase “six degrees of separation”). While Milgram initially reasoned that if the packets started from 160 random points, the packets would arrive at their destination with similar randomness. Many of the chain packets, however, followed the same asymmetrical pattern to the Boston stockbroker.  In all, half of the responses that got to the stockbroker were delivered by three people.  Hence, the phrase “six degrees of separation” doesn’t mean that everyone is linked to everyone else in just six steps.  It does mean that a very small number of people are linked to everyone else in a few steps, and the rest of us are linked to the world through those few.

There is an easy way to explore this idea.  Write down the names of 40 friends and trace them backwards to how they were introduced to you.  This exercise will reveal that what people term as their “social circles” are really inverted pyramids. In other words, a large percentage of your contacts likely originated from a relatively few number of individuals. Those at the tops of these pyramids are your Network Pyramid Capstones.

Here is the consideration for you. If you are working to “jump start” your network or determine where your time is best spent, first, find your Network Pyramid Capstones. Then take one or all of your Network Pyramid Capstones to lunch, breakfast, for coffee or beer or whatever.

That is, really make an effort to develop a great relationship with these people – find ways to help them and be sure they understand how they can help you. These individuals have been instrumental in building your network to this point.  It is likely they will do more of the same in the future.

Networking is Nothing New

S (Old Book)Networking is simply human interaction and it has been with us since the beginning of time. These human interactions are really just the relationships we have with one another. How we connect. Some connections are passing. Some connections are more lasting. Some connections are seemingly lifelong.

Given this, networking is, more or less, really just human behavior. Talking. Listening. Understanding. Being empathetic, encouraging, inspiring, smiling, laughing, and being a friend. Thus, all human behaviors involving other people are relationship-based and is networking.

The wonderful thing about human behavior is that there are patterns to it. While the patterns may not be perfectly predictable – as you might find with a chemical reaction or a physics experiment – there are patterns generally there.

Whenever there are patterns, however, there is curiosity. And whenever there is curiosity, you will find people of science trying to explain the patterns through studying, observing, and examining them.

Human behavior involving our relationships is no different. The social sciences – sociology, psychology, and economics, just to name a few – for years have examined how humans relate to one another, both personally and professionally.

30-Second Commercial – Part 8 of 8

Silver modern StopwatchIf you think about it, considering all these different options and orders, there are literally dozens (if not hundreds) of different 30-second commercials for you. So do not stop at just one. Rather select a handful of the ones that you feel are the most powerful for you and where you are the most comfortable saying them. Go with these.

Like anything, however, you will not get good at delivering your 30-second commercials without preparation, planning and practice.

Write Them: Using something as basic as a small note pad or 3×5 cards, neatly write or type your commercials for future reference.

Review Them: Once you have them written out, keep them handy so that you can practice or review them from time to time (just a few minutes each week is plenty).

Use Them: When someone then asks, “Who are you?”, do not hesitate. Have the courage to launch into one of your 30-second commercials (picking the appropriate one for the time and place).

Refine Them: Your 30-second commercials are always a work in process. You should look for ways to update them, make them more clear or better represent you.

30-Second Commercial – Part 7 of 8

Silver modern StopwatchIt is good to have an effective 30-second commercial, but it is even better to have more than just one. Think about it. There’s a lot to what you do and there is no way you can convey it all in 30 seconds.

So, have different commercials to convey various things. Also, consider that no two people are the same and no two situations are the same. Thus, it only stands to reason that you have different messages to fit different situations and people.

Plus, if you consistently say the same thing, eventually what you have to say becomes “white noise.” So do not fall into the trap of having a “one size fits all” commercial. Here are some considerations for developing some variety in what you have to say.

First, as I indicated earlier, develop a variety of Message Bodies … In some settings be informative or educational (at a stodgy business afterhours) … In some be flippant or amusing (say, at a holiday party) … In others, you might consider something with a little shock value (where you really want to grab some attention quickly).

Next, there is more than one reason WHY people should refer (or use) you, so share a different piece of confidence or credibility building information from time to time. Think about it.

What are the things that uniquely qualify you to be their best option? Perhaps there are things the set your company apart and those things attribute to you by association. Maybe it is the process you use.

Each of these can lend credibility to you in a particular situation … It is important to know how and appropriately insert that one in your 30-second commercial. (Whether it’s you, your company or the process you use).

In addition to using different ways to establish credibility, you can ask for different things in your 30-second commercials.

Depending on the setting you can outright ask for people to refer you clients … Or you might find in a situation that you are best served to ask for connections to strategic partners (accountants, attorneys, etc.)… Or you might determine that it is most appropriate to ask for information (such as details on networking events, job transition groups or background on people).

The point is that this is another way in which you can create some diversity within your 30-second commercials.

Finally, in addition to changing the MESSAGE BODIES, relying on different things to establish CONFIDENCE, and altering the REQUEST, you can also switch up the order in which you execute the framework.

The above framework is a suggested guide. It is not an ironclad rule of thumb, however. Lead with something to inspire CONFIDENCE or, perhaps, your strong definite REQUEST, or even an amusing MESSAGE BODY.

It does not matter how you slice or dice the framework. The key is conveying the message with all the bits and pieces in about 30 seconds.

30-Second Commercials: Part 2 of 8

TSilver modern Stopwatcho build a strong network of contacts that give you referrals, contacts and information, you need to have a concise, yet very compelling, 30-second commercial. The problem is that you have SO MUCH to say and 30 seconds is really not a lot of time.

So to conquer the challenge of conveying lots of information in a short period of time, it is helpful to have a framework to work with. Here is an effective one:

  • Start with a basic introduction for yourself (this addresses the WHO you are) …
  • Add to that a Message (which addresses the WHAT you do) …
  • From there, you need to Inspire Confidence or create credibility (which tackles the issues as to WHY you over all the other choices) …
  • Then you wrap this up with a Strong Definite Request of what you need (this is the HOW they can help you).

Now, if you carefully draft each of these sub-parts and then piece them together with your own personal flair, you end up with a very effective 30-second commercial. For more, see part 3.

Great Questions To Ignite “Small Talk”

Again, small talk kick starts the networking process. Small talk, however, is about getting the other person talking. This begs the question: What are good questions to ask in this process?T (Questions)

There is no magic. Planning, however, is paramount. Be like an attorney – prepare your questions before you ask them. In other words, have a small handful of questions ready to go. Each of these relate to the person’s life professionally or personally … Or something about their past.

From there, allow the conversation to take itself wherever. A few of these questions could include…

  • What do you do? How long have you been doing it? How did you become interested in that?
  • What are some of the projects or assignments you are currently working on?
  • Are you from this area?
  • Yes – What part?
  • No – What brought you here?
  • Outside of work, what occupies you? How did you become interested in that?
  • What are some business or community organizations you are involved with?

These will give you a start. From here you might want to formulate your own series of questions. Again, there is no magic. It is simply a matter of planning on how you will get and keep them talking.