Initiating Contact At Networking Events

It is simply up to you to initiate contact. That is worth repeating, it is up to you to initiate contact. Alternatively stated, DO NOT wait (or expect) others to make contact with you. Making contact is 100% your obligation, if you want a productive experience.

There is no magic to initiating contact. It only involves three simple things.

1) Make meaningful eye contact with people, where you look at them and they look you back in the eye. There is nothing strange about this. It is completely human.

2) With eye contact established, smile. This is not a forced smile, but a genuine “it is good to see you” smile. Chances are, human nature will kick in and they will smile back.

3) With that eye contact and a smile, simply say, “hello.” They may say “hello” in return, or they may say nothing.

Whatever the case, it was your objective (as well as sole obligation) to initiate contact. You have done that. Congratulations!

This sounds simple and it is. Nevertheless, this may be a little out of your comfort zone. If it is, here is a great way to practice. Go anywhere there are people (for example, shopping) and simply naturally wander around making eye contact, smiling, and saying, “hello.” It may seem unnatural at first, but in time you will develop a level of comfort that you can utilize in a more professional setting.

Location: A Key To Networking Success

At networking events, appropriately position yourself. In fishing, you go to where the fish are or will be. In networking, the same logic holds. Stand where you will most likely be amongst people. Near the entrance. At the buffet or bar. Close to other high traffic areas.

If you stand outside the main stream of human flow (or worse, sit off to the side), you virtually eliminate your opportunity for having anything come from the networking event – immediately or ever.

Assuming you have positioned yourself appropriately you will encounter people. Like a parade, from your position people will go meandering by.

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As a business person, you need things today (clients, information, and contacts). Guess what? You are going to need those things tomorrow, and the next day, and next year. 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. It is easy to keep after it. Other days your networking efforts are going to seem like a complete waste. You will want to swear it off. Don’t.

You need to have faith. Opportunity comes from the most unlikely places and it is all the result of productive relationships. Never quit trying to build Know, Like, and Trust.

To summarize, remember that to be successful at anything, knowledge is important. What is vital, however, is being proficient at networking. Networking is about building solid relationship where people know you, like you, and trust you. Those 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.

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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 at developing relationships. In short, people will Know, Like, and Trust you.

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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, and Trust you.

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If you want people to “Know, Like, and Trust” you remember There Is No Shame In Asking. Call it “human nature” or call it the “American Spirit,” but we are hardwired to help one another. Certainly the aftermath of the events of September 11th (or any major tragedy) make this abundantly clear. People will go to great lengths to help one another.

With this, the only thing that separates you from the help that you need is you asking. Dare to ask. Remember, if you are focused on giving and helping others, it is only fair that you attempt to partake from the same process.

• Let others know what kind of help you want.

• Describe the types of people you are trying to meet.

• Explain to your centers of influence how they can help you.

• Solicit people for information on groups or opportunities where you can present the benefits of your particular business or service.

Understand this, if you are polite in asking of others and appreciative of whatever they give (even if it is only time), people will come through. Not everyone, but enough to make it all worthwhile. Equally important, however, when you reach out to others, you are in essence affirming that they have value to offer. It is a wonderful compliment. For that, they will be flattered. As backwards as it might seem, they will Know, Like, and Trust you for reaching out to them.

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Another means of getting others to “Know, Like, and Trust” you is remembering Every Contact Has Opportunity.

It is easy to do and we are all guilty of it – dismissing someone as being of little or no consequence to us. Maybe it was a gas station attendant. Maybe it was a receptionist. Maybe it was the kid delivering the paper.

Know this, however, while everyone may not be your next prospective client, everyone knows someone that might be … not everyone will fit neatly into your network as a center of influence, but everyone is connected to someone who could … not everyone is going to be chock full of useful information, but you can bet they sure know a person who is.

In short, everyone has value and every relationship has potential. Knowing this, everyone deserves and should receive the respect and attention that you would offer your best clients, centers of influence, or prime information source. If you consistently do this, everyone will Know, Like, and Trust you (and people who do not know you will want to somehow be associated with you).

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“How Do I Go About Getting Others To Know, Like & Trust Me?” In the world of business and professional networking, that is the $64,000 question.

One Answer is Never Stop Giving.

The Golden Rule of Networking states “give first, get second.” In short, if you want to get things from your network, you need to give to it. Focus on giving to others … give referrals … give additional contacts … give opportunities … give information … give encouragement … give support … give, give, give.

When you give to others they cannot help but Know, Like and Trust you. As a result, the people you give to will want to return the generosity. In addition, you will develop the reputation of being a “generous person.” This will inspire others to want to contribute to you, as they come to believe that you are likely to give back.

This is powerful and should become almost a daily habit.

• Share information with others and they will share information back.
• Give referrals to centers of influence in your network and they will go out of their way to return the deed.
• Help your prospective clients with things unrelated to what you sell and you will be forever on the top of their mind (perhaps referring you clients down the road).
• Be supportive of your clients and vendors and they will “rave” to others about you.

With everyone you encounter, ask yourself, “In what way could I help them?” When the answers come to you, take action. That will build Know, Like, and Trust like nothing else.

Creating Solid Networking Relationships

We create solid relationships with people in our lives when we set about to make three things happen. This can be distilled down into three simple words: Know, Like & Trust.

You build relationships when people get to know you and you get to know them. You build relationships when you get the people you know to like you. And you build relationships when you do the things that allow other people to trust you.

Here is a simple reality – people do business with people they Know, Like & Trust. You do business with people you Know, Like & Trust. All things being equal, you will do business with someone you Know, Like & Trust.

You likely have the accountant, banker, or financial planner in your life because, all things being equal, you Know, Like & Trust them. In fact, all things being UNequal, you would still opt to do business with the person you Know, Like, & Trust. Think about it. If you have automobile insurance, there is no question you could find the same coverage for less. Yet, you stay with the same agent. Why? You Know, Like & Trust that person.

Know, Like & Trust is a powerful component of human nature. If you can get people coming to the conclusion that they Know, Like & Trust you (this is at a very gut level), they will more likely be moved to help you … refer you clients … introduce you to centers of influence … direct you towards beneficial opportunities.

Assessing Your Network Asset

Once you realize that networking builds value in your life, the natural reaction is, “How much value do I have?”

Certainly, this is not as simple as counting change or tallying hours worked. And while there are complicated formulas for assessing one’s social capital, there are three rather simplistic means of making a thumbnail measurement. Let’s touch on each of these.

Assessment #1 is Connectivity. Answer this, “Who do I know?” Stop and think about it. Take an inventory of the people you know. High School. College. Neighbors. Community. Church. The gym. And the list goes on. You likely know lots of people, and as you meet more your social capital grows.

Assessment #2 is Density. Think about it. If you knew ten people and those ten people all knew each other, your network is so dense (or interconnected) that the social capital is nowhere near as great as if you knew ten people and none of those people knew each other. So it is not just how many people you know that is important, but how many of those people know each other. Certainly, it is not reasonable to think that no one in your network knows anyone else, but you do want to have a broad, diverse network where you know lots of people and they are relatively disconnected from one another.

Assessment #3 is Potential. It is important how many people you know. And it is important how many of those people you know, know each other. But another means of assessing your network is to look through the people you know and see the people they know that you do not currently know. If you know ten people and they have relatively poor networks themselves, you are worse off than if you know only five people, but those five are extremely well connected.

Take a moment now and then to assess the value of your network. In these moments, ask yourself, “How can I increase my network Connectivity, lessen its Density, as well as enhance its Potential?”