How many of you are familiar with Harvey Mackay? Not only is he CEO of a very successful $100 million dollar envelope company in Minneapolis, a nationally syndicated columnist, author of several New York Times #1 best-selling books including “Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten” and one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, but Harvey is also known as a master networker. In fact, he attributes his success in all areas of his business and personal life directly to his skill of networking with over 6,500 people active in his networking database.
As Harvey says, “The biggest constant over the lifetime of a career is the relationships we form.”
So why is this important to us? To realize our dreams and not make them just fantasies, we must learn the fine art of networking in order to find and enroll the right people to help us.
Be Intentional. Networking should be intentional. It’s NOT about just meeting people, selling our product or service or even finding ways to enroll them immediately in what we want from them. It’s all about learning about and establishing a relationship with them and selling YOU – you as a person.
The most successful people have adopted the philosophy that no one is a stranger. They will go out of their way to be genuinely interested in the other person and connect with them on their level. They know that if you are always happy to know others, they will always be happy to know you.
Pay Attention to Your Mind Set and Body Language. Most people don’t know that in communication, only 7% is what we say (the actual words we use), 38% is how we say it (our tonality, pitch and volume of our voice) and 55% is how we feel about ourselves (our physiology). When we meet people or go into a job interview, think about how we are standing or sitting. Are we speaking with energy and vitality? How confident do we feel about ourselves? Remember all these things are being read subconsciously by the other person.
Give Sincere Compliments. One of our human basic needs is for recognition. We are hungry for someone to notice us. So why not notice and be a blessing to them? But it must be sincere and from your heart to be effective. Even if their dress or appearance is not something we would do, it is an expression of their being and should be honored. Try it out the next time you are standing in line at the grocery. Find something about the person standing in front of you, behind you or even the cashier and give them a sincere compliment. See how it lights up their eyes and puts a smile on their face.
Another way to give a sincere compliment is to ask questions about the person that we are meeting. I use a formula taught by Dani Johnson (www.danijohnson.com) called FORM. F = Family, O= Occupation, R = Recreation, M = Message (What message or call-to-action do I want them to take based on what I learned from them).
Use Active Listening. As my mother used to say, “God gave us one mouth and two ears for a reason.” The #1 mistake that most people make is talking too much. Active listening is also not waiting for our opportunity to speak but giving them our undivided attention and being fully present. Be open to even listening to even something we are not interested in.
Be a Learner of People. To be an effective communicator and understand what is important to them, we must constantly be learning about people. Learn to spot different personality types. One great book that comes recommended on this is by Florence Littauer called “Personality Plus.”
Have a Great “Opener”. When people ask us who we are and what we do, what do we tell them? What is our personal brand? Prepare a short statement about what value we bring to others – our “30-second commercial.” If you are currently unemployed, it can be much more effective to say: “I’m Ellen Mann and I have successfully served customers and satisfying their needs for over 15 years as a customer service expert. I’m now on a search to find the right company to bring my expertise to and help retain their customers.” rather than: “I’m Ellen Mann and am currently unemployed and looking for a job.”
Have a Follow-Up Strategy. The first key to being successful in our follow-up is to systematize our strategy. Record what we learn within 24 hours. Send a thank you the same day. Use a strategy to cultivate the relationship. The second key is to intentionally bring them value each time we are in contact with them.
The sole purpose of networking is to form and build relationships, whether it’s personal (at a church function, community event, barbeque) or for business (the Chamber of Commerce, seminars, charity fundraisers, networking groups). Every encounter that we have with another person is an opportunity to network. And if we learn to understand people and take the time to find out what they want, we will be usually successful.