While the direct route usually appears to be the shortest route, in networking it is not always the best path. For example, you might be looking to meet Ms. “Big-Shot Decision Maker.” Standing between you and her, however, (unfortunately) is an impressive gatekeeper system.
Don’t be deterred. Rather commit to taking a circitous route to your intended destination. Ask those in your trusty network for an introduction to someone who might know Ms. “Big-Shot Decision Maker.” Or perhaps a connection to someone who might know someone who might know the ultimate target. Or maybe some insight as to where she might volunteer.
The point is that great contacts are not necessarily the easiest to get to, even though going from point A to B is shortest. Nevertheless, remember to use your network to help you connect. They can help you start at point A, land at point C (and then maybe work through D and E) to ultimately get you to point B.
The most effect way of tickling someone is to sneak up on them and do it without them knowing it’s coming. While I don’t advocate doing this to a stranger, you likely have a loved one in your life where this is useful advice.
Just like tickling someone else, your acts of altruism are most effective when you sneak up on the person to present it.
Your spouse or significant other is romantically moved when you shower them with cards and flowers when they least expect them.
Your compliments have a special meaning when you give them without any sort of solicitation.
And, the referrals you give, the information you share, and the business contacts you create for others go from ordinary gestures to extraordinary acts of altruism when you do them without any sort of prompting. So, don’t wait to be asked to do anything. Just sneak up and do it without them knowing it’s coming.
As Brian Ahearn shares in his book Influence People, “When people are unsure how to act in certain situations, they tend to look to others to see how they should respond.”
With this insight, if you’re trying to influence people in your network, you can nudge them in your direction simply by reminding them that there are other people who are already doing what you’re asking of them.
In fact, you can accentuate your influence by telling people that those who are already doing what you’re asking are just like them. As Ahearn shares, “We are especially motivated to move with the crowd when that crowd is just like us. We feel more confident following along.”
What Ahearn implies is don’t ask someone to do something you wouldn’t. Rather, you’re better off asking them to do something that others just like them are already doing.
In 2011, with virtually no time remaining on the game clock, Ryan Elmquist, the all-time leading scorer for the California Institute of Technology men’s basketball program, made two free throws. In so doing, he broke a tie with the Occidental College Tigers and ensured a victory. More importantly, Elmquist ended a 310-game, 26-year winning drought for the Cal Tech Beavers.
Chances are you’ve never gone two and a half decades without a win, whether in sports, business or life. No doubt, however, you been involved in a drought. You know, that patch where nothing seems to go right. Where none of your ideas are accepted. Where promotion after promotion seem to pass you by. Where you can’t seem to catch a break on anything.
Just as no one can expect to win every encounter, you should know that no matter how things have been going, your day is coming. Whatever the circumstance, keep after it. Eventually, you will break through.
Big things come from small talk. There is little argument with that. The almost non-sensical conversation that occupies the first few minutes of any encounter sets the tone for how the rest of the interaction will go.
Knowing this, it’s important that you’re ready with a handful of conversation starters. These are comments and inquiries intended to get others sharing and nothing more. Some examples could include:
“I’m not familiar with your business. What can you tell me about it?”
Or, “Based on your accent, you’re not from here. Where are you from and how did you end up here?”
Or, “This weather is something else. How does it impact your operations?”
Sure, these are a series of everyday comments followed by a related question. But that’s the point. Getting a conversation started doesn’t have to be a science. It just has to invite a chat.
By the way, “Did you happen to see the game last night?”
In her book The Connector’s Advantage, consultant Michelle Lederman reveals seven mindsets that will lead to having a more impactful and influential network. The first mindset she encourages is being ‘open and accepting.’
She shares “To be open and accepting means you recognize and accept the good and bad aspects about yourself and, just as importantly, you accept the good and bad sides of others.”
As Lederman implies, to be best networked, you only need be yourself. That persona will serve you well long term. Being someone else only leaves you continually on edge as you try to keep up the ruse.
At the same time, allow others the comfort of knowing, they can be themselves. No matter what rung of success they’re on, it doesn’t really matter. All that is important is offering help to get them to the next.
Remember, through an open and accepting mindset, bad can be turned to good. And the good become better.
Social media … like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter … has created a whole new experience for networking. Now, if you’re looking to find success networking on social media, there is no magic. There are no secret formulas or short cuts. The key is to follow these three important steps.
One – get your account set up or, if you’re already set up, expand your usage to be more effective. Two – schedule time to take a little action each day. And three – commit to keeping after it.
Yep, it’s that simple. Sure, there is a lot there and much to master and learn. Nothing, however, says you need to climb the learning curve in one day, one month or even one year. Even the most proficient users of social media find that they are continually learning new things.
Besides, no one is judging you on your proficiency using social media. They are only judging you on the value you bring. So, get started.
Some people are master networkers. They seem to effortlessly establish, develop and maintain a framework of individuals comprised of family, friends, co-workers, business colleagues and even competitors.
How do they do this? The reality is that master networkers are not necessarily harder working than others. They are not necessarily any more educated. And it has nothing to do with their social status, appearance or luck. The difference is the manner and approach in which master networkers interact with their networks.
Masters know that they need to be more than simply acquainted with their network. Masters look for a deeper relationship with those they associate with. In summary, master networkers strive to develop a mutual sense of knowing, liking and trusting amongst their contacts.
Masters are aware – at least on some level of consciousness – that the notion of ‘know, like and trust’ is the key to forging a powerful and productive relationship. And that is a simple lesson you can take from the master networker.
On the NetworkWise blog, social architect Adam Connors shares that the formula for building trust in any professional network is as simple as providing value over an extended period of time. In short, time plus value equals trust.
To offer value, Connors states that “You could comment on and share recent blog post. Or give advice on a project they’re working on.” But Connors then goes on to acknowledge that there are so many other ways you can bring value, like being a good listener, being a mentor, or just being there for them in general.
As for time, Connors encourages you to make time to spend with your network, whether over a meal, just talking on the phone, or maybe volunteering together, as contact alone serves to build trust.
But more importantly, Connors chides you to ensure that you follow through on your commitments or promises. Consistently doing this demonstrates that you’re reliable, which is just another word for trustworthy.
If you’re in business, you want referrals. After all, this is the best place to be: where others are directing clients to you. Just because you want this, however, doesn’t mean that you get it. To create this referral machine, you must build it.
To do so, the onus is on you to establish relationships. After all people do business with and refer business to those that they know, like and trust.
As you build those relationships, you must also empower your network to not just understand what you do. In addition, you need to help these people to be able to both recognize opportunities for you as well as talk about you to others.
Finally, to maintain this referral machine, you must remain in continual contact with your network to cultivate these relationships. This is the grease that ensures the referrals flow.
Yes, this all takes work, but the rewards far outpace the effort.