If you’ve been following along with the last couple 100% Jodi episodes you’ve heard the 8 common myths out there about networking and you’ve gotten an idea of all the different types of events and gatherings you can attend for group networking.
Ultimately, all of this group activity is leading to where networking has its power: the one-to-one meeting.
These can be coffee dates, lunches, happy hours, video conference calls, etc.
This is when you spend focused time with an individual to deepen the relationship.
Nothing can replace an in-person meeting but when time or distance are inhibitors it’s time to get hip with the latest technology.
Phone calls serve their purpose but they are so last century when it comes to the get-to-know-you meeting.
Now that video calls are readily available to anyone with a device and wifi, phone calls give off what they are: a conversation with a disembodied voice. It’s fine as a last resort but if you want to make a strong connection get comfortable with the tools that are out there. I regularly use Skype, Zoom and Google Hangouts. I have also used Facetime on occasion.
Before the One-to-One Meeting
Confirm the meeting a day or two in advance. It happens. Sometimes the meeting doesn’t make it to the other person’s calendar or they haven’t looked at their calendar in days.
Also, sometimes there is glitch when you or they put the meeting on the calendar and the time or date is off. By reaching out to confirm the meeting you can discover ahead of time if there is a need to reschedule.
I don’t know about you but, even if I’m having a video call from my office, I’ve structured my activity around the call. To discover 10 minutes into the call that it’s not going to happen can be very frustrating because in actuality I’ve lost about 30 minutes of my time. The time gets eaten up because we need to reschedule the meeting. Also, the mental transition out of projects before the time of the meeting and the transition back in after discovering the call is not going to happen. This is even worse if you travel to a coffee shop or restaurant only to find out it was a waste of time.
If you are having an in-person meeting be sure to exchange cell phone numbers in advance in case anything comes up last minute. Text messages tend to be more reliable than email especially if you are in an area that does not have good cellular service.
Review their website or LinkedIn profile to get an idea of this person and the work they are doing. This is especially helpful if you are having an in-person meeting with someone you have not met in person before. You can look up their profile picture so you’ll be able to spot them in the crowd. Side note, make sure your profile pictures look like you and presents you as you want to be seen. Update it if necessary.
During the One-to-One Meeting
The first time you are meeting with another professional or business owner, focus on getting to know them well as a human being and finding out how you can contribute to them.
Don’t focus on the work they are doing right away. Ask them about their journey, what they are currently excited about, and their plans for the future. When they look back on all they’ve done what makes them feel proud? What has been their biggest challenge?
There are so many questions you can ask to get the ball rolling and once it is rolling stay curious about them and the questions will come to you naturally.
If at the end of the meeting you feel strongly that this is a person you would want to introduce to others in your network, schedule another meeting to find out more about how the two of you can help each other.
In subsequent meetings get into the nitty gritty of what opportunities they are looking for and guide them to teach you how to find those opportunities for them.
Even if you are a newbie entrepreneur or you are early in your career, there is always a way that you can bring value. You have to believe that it is true and it is just a matter of discovering what it is.
If they are looking for more customers get them to talk in specifics about who their customers are and how you can identify them.
Do not settle for descriptions like anyone with a car, anyone with a spine, anyone filing taxes or everyone could be my customer. It’s too generic and it doesn’t give you a clue of where to start.
I’ll use myself as an example. I occasionally hear, “everyone needs a coach so anyone could be my client.”
Ugh! It’s not true!
Anyone open to coaching can benefit from having a coach but few people need a coach.
Even as a BNI member, I can confidently say there are people in my chapter who are going above and beyond to identify and chat with potential clients for me; it is still MY JOB to make it as easy as possible for them to make that connection. However, I am trained to do this.
Not everyone you meet with will be skilled at helping you find them new opportunities. You may need to guide them to give you the information that will help you help them.
Here are some prompts you can use and if you are networking for your career take the focus off clients and focus on opportunities and connections the other person is looking for:
Tell me about your favorite client. What were they going through before they found you. What problem did you solve for them and how did that change their life?
What do your clients say about you?
How do your clients or customers find you?
What professions would typically refer clients/customers to you? Or, who else could provide opportunities for you or be good connections for you? It doesn’t have to be a specific person. Think about titles, companies, professions and industries.
What would I say to that person that would make them want to meet you?
If you were at a cocktail party how would you know you were talking to someone who could potentially be your client? What kind of things to they say or do that lets you know?
What questions do you ask them?
What do you say to them?
Now, I’m not you, what would I say to them that would make them want to talk to you?
What’s the best way to make that connection?
Now, when you are empowered with the answers to these questions you will have a much easier time finding new opportunities for others.
It’s one thing to say you want to help someone else. When you can deliver on that commitment it goes miles to creating a strong business relationship that will provide opportunities for you as well.
Speaking of which…
Be Ready to Talk About What YOU Need
Be confident about yourself and clear about what you are looking for. This is where a great conversation can come to a disappointing end. After you’ve been all gung-ho about helping them, they are naturally going to want to find out how they can reciprocate. If you don’t give them anything they are going to be left feeling pretty crappy.
I’ve done this to so many people. It sucks the magic right out of what had been a great conversation. At the end, it’s still a good meeting because I’ve discovered how I can help them but I’ve also left them feeling a little frustrated because I’m able to more easily go to bat for them while they will have to struggle to find something for me.
I know for many of you you’ve been taught not to boldly ask for what you want but in business, rather than coming off as unselfish and giving, you will be perceived as clueless and possibly incompetent.
Imagine you desperately want to help another person be successful and they say, “I don’t really know. Let me give it some thought and I’ll get back to you.”
You have to empower other people with information to allow them to help you.
Know ahead of time what you are looking for. All the prompts I gave you a few minutes ago to ask the other person – answer those questions yourself.
Additionally, be ready to talk about the opportunities you are looking for: speaking engagements, a new job, board positions, etc.
Don’t forget to ask for connections to other professionals who wouldn’t necessarily be your client but come into contact with your ideal clients or connections on a regular basis.
Who else can help you grow in your career or business? Have some names ready or if you’re not able to be that specific, know the titles and industries you are interested in meeting.
At this point if they haven’t offered it up yet, ask the other person, “Are there other people in your network that I should meet?” This is how you can meet other professionals via a warm introduction without having to constantly be going to the social networking events, if those events don’t interest you.
Lastly, remember that when someone passes you a referral or presents you with an opportunity they are putting their reputation on the line for you and that’s a very vulnerable thing. That’s why it may take a while before someone is ready to go to bat for you but trust if you continue to nurture the relationship and provide opportunities for the other person, it will come back to you.
After the One-to-One Meeting
Send an email thanking them and reconfirm your tasks from the meeting and give an update if you have one.
Put reminders on your calendar to check back in with them or send them items of interest. I share articles, social media posts and upcoming events that they may be interested in, on a personal or profession level. Anything that let’s them know you had listened to them and you are thinking of them.
If you are connected on social media comment and share their posts. Keep yourself top of mind by being a supporter and advocate for their cause.
Coming back to the analogy of planting seeds that I share in the last 100% Jodi episode, you have to think of this as cultivating a vegetable garden. You cannot plant seeds and expect that you’ll yield a plentiful harvest. You have to feed and water the garden, and pull the weeds when necessary.
It takes some time and effort but it’s so satisfying and delicious to have fresh vegetables that have come straight from your own garden.
Would you add anything to what I’ve mentioned here? Let me know by emailing me at Jodi@womentakingthelead.com or leaving a comment where ever you found this episode.
And again, subscribe to this podcast at womentakingthelead.com
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