Is Your Net Working?

by Rhoberta Shaler, PhD © 2002

The most effective business tool you have is your network of colleagues, co-workers and friends. Is it working for you?

The other day I was giving a seminar called 'Three Hundred Seconds to Success: Making a Wise First Impression'. A participant asked, "Why can't I just be me? Can't they just take me or leave me?"

"Sure," I said, "that is what is happening now. How is it working for you?" With a shy smile, she said, "I guess it's not or I wouldn't be taking the class."

Are you putting your best foot forward to improve your memorability? Remember, it's not who you know, as networking maven Susan RoAne says, it's who knows you. It's your 'M-Factor'! How memorable are you? Are you at the 'top-of-mind' when folks ask for a referral?

We all have heard the news that we never get a second chance to make a first impression. The follow-up story to that is that that excellent first impression must be sustained and maintained by excellent networking skills.

How to Up Your Memorability Factor - Your M-Factor!

Be There
Meeting new people is the first step. Put your face in the place. There is no substitute for knowing people in your industry or in your market. These people will become your resource and you will become theirs. That's what networking is all about.



Rapport Before Reporting?
Go to networking functions with one intent--to learn about the other people there!

Does that seem contradictory? Did you think that your primary purpose was show and tell? It's not. To be memorable, you must be very interested in learning about others. As William James, the father of psychology, tells us, the deepest craving of human nature is the desire to be appreciated. One way to appreciate others is to listen intently, not with bated breath, barely waiting until their sentences are finished so that you can add your pearls of wisdom. Listen well. Your only agenda is to learn more about them.

Don't worry. They'll ask about you and your work. If, by chance a person fails to inquire about you, that person simply does not understand the system. He or she has just given you valuable information about themselves, an unfavorable first impression.

Avoid lone rangers. They do not know how to make the net work.

When you take the time to build rapport by listening well and demonstrating interest in others, your turn to report your skills, interests and expertise will come naturally.

No Cards Before Communication
Networking is not about whoever leaves with the most business cards wins. You know they often simply sit in well-intentioned piles on your desk or in a drawer. The only cards you need are the ones you actually asked for because the person interested you. As with most things, it is the quality that counts--the quality of the interaction that leads to the desire for the contact information.

Your cards have meaning. You likely do not want them being harvested for email addresses for someone's database, right? Unless you have created quality communication and/or a good fit for someone's immediate need, it is unlikely that your card will have meaning after the meeting.

Be selective in your practice of cardship. Ask for the cards you want. Offer one in return. There are very few occasions when you might thrust your card at someone in the off-chance they might care. Develop the relationship first, exchange cards second.

Follow Through with Your Follow-Up
Be sure to contact the people who interested you once you have created rapport. Send a note or postcard. Invite them to breakfast, coffee or lunch. Do this within one week of meeting them if you possibly can.

It's a good practice to schedule two opportunities each week to meet with new people you know you want to know more about. When you do meet, revert to rapport before reporting and listen first once again.

Continue to make contact with folks. Send an article, a tip sheet, or fax containing something that might interest them. When the relationship has some foundation, then, you can begin to interest them in your business possibilities together. People want to be known.

So back to the basic beginning, give first. Give folks the opportunity to tell you about themselves and their work. Be curious. Follow the four steps above and you'll boost your memorability factor for sure. Remember, it is not who you know, it's who knows you. People remember people who care. That's how the net works!

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, speaks, coaches & conducts seminars for entrepreneurs & professionals who want the motivation, strategies and inspiration to achieve, to lead and to live richly. Hear her weekly on http://www.WSRadio.com. For more information, visit http://www.OptimizeLifeNow.com.

 
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