According to research, among people’s greatest fears are:
Death by Fire
Public Speaking &
Vacationing with In-Laws
Not far behind is finding oneself in a room full of total strangers. Even if you don’t fear that situation, you might NOT be totally comfortable with it. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
One surefire method to overcome the anxiety of being at events is to Have the Right Frame of Mind. While this may sound obvious, there are plenty of people who trip up their networking efforts before they even arrive at the event.
Remember that networking works, although not always exactly as you had hoped. Before you embark on the networking event, you need to truly believe that the process works and that your mere presence has set that process in motion.
While your mere presence is important, you will totally undermine your efforts if you bring with you anything but a positive disposition. Now, not every day, month or year, for that matter, can be a good one, but there is something good about each. Reflect on the positive aspects of your personal and professional life. Do what you can to be of uplifting spirits. Remember, while support groups can be a networking opportunity, most networking events are not designed to be support groups. So, leave your worries at the door, to the extent possible.
Finally, embark on any networking event with a sincere expectation of the outcome. It may not be all that you hoped for, since there is no guarantee that you will get a new client out of it. But know this – something will come from you being there. You might meet someone that can refer you or put you one step closer to a new client. You might reconnect with a former client or center of influence or gain a piece of information that holds untold value. There are a plethora of potential benefits that can come from any networking event. You will never get it all, but you will likely always get something.
As a businessperson, you need things today, like clients, information, and contacts. Guess what? You are going to need those things tomorrow, too. And the next day, and next week, and next year. And where will these things come from? One word – Relationships. Thus, creating and nurturing productive relationships is an ongoing endeavor. Your job is never done.
Know this: Some days your networking efforts are going to seem worthwhile. On these days, it will be easy to keep after it. Other days your networking efforts are going to seem like a complete waste of time. On these days, you will want to swear it off. Don’t!
Have faith. Opportunity comes from the most unlikely places and it is all the result of the productive relationships you nurture over time. So, never quit trying to build Know, Like, and Trust.
To summarize, while knowledge is important to be successful at anything, what is vital is being proficient at networking. Networking is about building solid relationship where people know you, like you, and trust you. These things are achieved through certain actions and interactions with those in your network. These actions involve consistent generosity, reliability, and commitment to others, just to mention a few.
Whether you are 19, 90, or somewhere in between, you know more people now than you could possibly meet over the next year (maybe two or three). Think about it. You know people in your community. You know people from high school, college, and your plethora of career moves (or those moving careers around you). You know people through your kids, parents, or family. You know lots of people.
While meeting new people is always an important part of networking, there is a tremendous advantage to networking with familiar names and faces – they already Know, Like and Trust you. That is a tremendous head start to productive and effective networking.
Given that, an important part of building your business or career network is to dig into your “now electronic” Rolodexes, card files, or little black books and mind your existing contacts. Reconnect with these old friends and acquaintances. Get caught up on their lives. Think of ways you can help them. Share with them about your professional endeavors. Remember to ask for assistance.
The “Know, Like, and Trust” is already there. All you need to do is capitalize on it.
There are three important steps to success on social media. There is no magic. There are no secret formulas or short cuts. The key is to follow these three important steps.
Get Started (or expand your usage to be more effective)
Make time to take a little action each day
Commit to keeping after it
Admittedly, when it comes to social media there is a lot there and much to master and learn. There is nothing, however, that 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 to the network.
To successfully engage yourself in social media (this immensely-large, continuously running and information-rich networking event), you only need to devote about 100 hours per year to it.
Now, when you put it that way, the task may seem insurmountable. Here is the reality, however: This translates to only about 20 minutes a day or a couple hours scattered over the course of a week. That does not seem so bad.
In the morning, when you are enjoying a cup of coffee, you might tinker with your profile.
Another day, you take a mid-morning break and interact within one of the groups you’ve joined.
Then, at some point during the week, while you are waiting for dinner to warm up (or arrive) you jump into a discussion or answer a question.
Finally, when there is a break in the action from the big game you are watching, Share An Update.
It is important to note that there are websites and applications available that will empower you to be more effective interacting and sharing information. While those are beyond the scope of this program, a quick search online and you will find plenty.
If you do a spectacular job educating your network on recognizing referrals, great. That, however, is not enough. You need to empower them with the ability to talk to prospective clients about what it is you do.
For example, if they recognize that the displaced executive is a potential client to refer to you, great. Encourage them to strike up a conversation with the person (and they will if they know, like and trust you). And transition into a discussion about franchising. Here is an example:
“I am sorry you are in transition. What is your next move? Have you considered becoming your own boss? I understand that franchising is almost a fool-proof means of successfully being in business. I know a great franchise broker … there is no obligation to meet with him and his services are essentially free, as the franchisors pay his fees.”
In addition to general conversation, empower your referral machine with non-technical buzz words and catch phrases about your industry (as well as what they mean) … Franchise Fee … Ongoing Royalties … FDD … Earnings Claim … Discovery Day. Your network should know enough to talk about what you do but not enough to do it.
Finally, encourage your network to hook you into the situation. In short, encourage the person to talk about you in a connecting sense. Returning to the example from before “I know a great franchise broker. There is no obligation to meet with him and his services are essentially free, as the franchisors pay his fees.”