Opening the Networking MailbagSteve Adubato, Ph.D.
Last week’s column on networking generated lots of feedback, particularly when I asked readers to write in to share their networking techniques. Here is a sampling.
Billy D. from Chester, NJ wrote; “I make it a point of inviting a new or existing contact to breakfast or lunch and make it all about THEM. I find out as much as I can about them, their work, their passions and their family and then ask, ‘Tell me three or four companies you have approached but have had no luck with. I may be able to help’ or, ‘Is there a company I can introduce you to?’ Then, I make sure I connect them with at least one company immediately following the meeting. My goal is to find out how I can help them and then follow through.”
You have it right, Billy. It is about THEM. Keep asking those probing questions. The answers you get are clearly useful. Also, being sure to follow up and follow through is key to letting the contact know you truly care and want to be helpful.
Andrew Nelson from Vernon, NJ said; “I have had great networking success through injecting an element of personal connection when meeting new business contacts. Most professionals are tired of the ‘product dump’ they hear from everyone else...I always find out two things: what do they like to do (golf, fishing, travel, etc.) and I ask them about their family. In your next meeting or call with them, you now have something interesting to talk about, and they will remember you.”
Great communicators in business know how to keep a healthy balance in their conversation between work and personal matters. Andrew appears to understand this.
Robert C. Troccoli, CPA, MBA is a retired Partner of KPMG Denver/New York City, and offered the following networking techniques that worked for him; “I used personal stationery and note cards to write hand-written notes to stay in touch with clients, co-workers and prospective clients. In fact, recently a co-worker of mine at KPMG sent me a copy of a note I wrote to her upon her admission to the partnership. She told me that ever since she received my note, she started the practice of writing notes to her people to congratulate them, stay in touch, etc.”
In the age of E-mail and text messaging, the art of communicating via a hand-written note has been lost for many. That’s a shame. Personal notes still connect. They matter. They take more time, but the payoff is more than worth it in terms of building relationships.
Joseph Franciscone from Fairfield, NJ said; “Networking should always have a goal. For me, it's to meet either a potential new client, or a strategic partner that I can do business with on some level...I am looking for more than just a networking opportunity. I am looking for either an introduction or a referral. I like to host a fun event such as a wine tasting or a night of music and combine it with a brief educational presentation. This will help spark conversation among the guests and allow the introductions to occur naturally.”These events can have value when it comes to networking. However, it is essential that the speaker or expert you bring in is an engaging and effective communicator and that each participant is given the opportunity to be actively involved in the session as opposed to simply sitting there silently. I’ve seen too many of these types of networking events fall flat because participants fail to see the value in the time they’ve invested.
Steve Adubato coaches and speaks on communication and leadership and is author of the new book "What Were They Thinking? Crisis Communication: The Good, the Bad and the Totally Clueless" (Rutgers University Press). Write to him at The Star-Ledger, 1 Star-Ledger Plaza, Newark, NJ 07102, visit his Web site at www.stand-deliver.com, or e-mail him at email@example.com.