You’ve done it! Congratulations!!!!
You drove to that awkward networking event… got out of the car… plastered a smile on your face and a name tag to your shirt… and walked in…
And you met someone amazing!!!!
That’s right!… you saw the very person you’ve been dying to meet standing alone, and you walked over and introduced yourself to:
The V.P. of the your dream department
An executive in your target career field
The Author of your favorite book
The conversation was comfortable and the connection was made…
It’s time to move from Networking to Connecting.
Here are five things that will move you from introduction to building a relationship. (For this blog, I’ll call your target person “Sue”)
Connect on LinkedIn
Send Sue a LinkedIn request within 24 hours of meeting her, and add a personal message when you do. The default message is robotic and makes the receiver feel unimportant.
Don’t whip our your phone and send the request while you’re talking or later at the event. The best time to fire up LinkedIn and send your request is later at home or the next morning.
When you see Sue again at another event or around the office, reach out your hand and reintroduce yourself. If she is a high profile person, or someone who meet several people at the event, there is a very high likelihood that she won’t remember your name. Mention where you first met, and continue the conversation.
When do you stop the reintroductions? When Sue sees you coming and says, “Hi Jill, great to see you” or when you start to remind her of your name and she says, “Great to see you again Jill, I remember you”…
Share Relevant Information
Taking the time to send Sue articles, links, book recommendations, conference announcements, or any other information about a topic the two of you discussed is a great way to increase your connectedness. This will tell Sue that you:
Listened to her
Are a thoughtful person
Have an interest in adding value to others
Arrange the Next Conversation
Don’t let this one linger. Within two weeks of meeting Sue, send her an email or a LinkedIn message asking for a follow-up conversation. Tell her how much you enjoyed your time with her and ask if she’d like to meet in person to continue the discussion over coffee or lunch. Skype works great if Sue is remote. Alternately, a phone call will do the trick. Keep the follow-up to 30 minutes if it’s not over a meal.
Focus on connection during your conversation. Listen, learn, and find places where you can deliver value.
It’s a totally turn off to have someone start a relationship by asking for favors. Instead, become a resource to Sue looooong before you ask her to do anything for you. Here are a few ways to do this:
Send Relevant Information (see tips above)
Introduce Sue to people who she would benefit from knowing
Invite her to events
Propose (or ask) how you can add value to a project or issue she is dealing with
When done correctly, networking is a powerful way to expand your connections, enhance your career, and just might be the beginning of friendships that will enhance your life.
The key is to focus on connections vs. collecting business cards.