Many years ago I ran a local networking organization in the Los Angeles area. After leaving behind my Corporate job, I craved being around people.
I found myself getting involved in a lot of different associations, networking groups and charities all with the desire to create connections with other movers and shakers in my community.
I loved the connections I made but having to go to a meeting once a month proved too much of a commitment for this freedom-seeking gal.
I left behind local networking groups and started attending live events where education and training for entrepreneurs took place. I loved the energy at live events and began to seek out opportunities to attend and speak (which by the way, living in Los Angeles aren’t that hard to find as at least 2 – 3 events occur every week in conference season.)
After a while I realized that some of these networking opportunities would leave me exhausted while others would fuel my soul. Seemingly very similar, I couldn’t quite grasp what contributed to the exhaustion.
Then it hit me. Some of these events I establish real connections where others I feel like I have to “pitch” something to someone in order to fit the theme of the event. I had to abandon my magic and I felt like a lost bunny in the lion den. I don’t pitch – I connect – and even after 10 years in this business I still have no idea how to do a succinct 30 second elevator speed! No wonder I felt depleted.
One of the events I attend every year is for very high level speakers and authors. A highlight at the event is called “Speed Networking.” The first year I went I was completely exhausted after this segment and felt a complete sense of “less than” energy from the group. I distinctly remember feeling that even though this was a significant group of players in the industry, this was not an event that was worth my time because I wasn’t experiencing my usual magic.
This year the same thing happened. And it finally dawned on me what was happening.
I’m a connector and I’m not proficient (yet) at building a connection with someone in 30 seconds. And truthfully, this event for me is more about learning and growing than it probably will be about making deals and getting new clients!
I instantly made a shift in how I participated in that event. I stopped doing the speed networking and started connecting. The result? I left having created a few very significant new relationships, and the realization that I’d rather have a handful of quality relationships that will actually produce results than hundreds of business cards from people who could care less.
If I distill my connection process down into steps, here are three tips that can make an instant difference in your results:
1. Lead with Your Magic
When you show up at an event, the very first thing you must do is crank up your inner and outer magic. It starts with what happens inside your head. If you are new, are going through a change in your business and aren’t certain how to communicate it yet, or had a significant financial set back and are feeling low, this is crucial. You must get connected to your magic so you can emanate an attractive energy. You may want to meditate or go for a walk and remind yourself of all the amazing gifts you have to give.
Or write out a catchy way to let people know what problems you help solve. Remember it all starts inside. Then, as my friend Joel Bauer says, you must wrap your package (aka what you wear) to be in alignment with your magic.
I’ve often been told that when I walk in a room people notice because I am confident, I wear clothes that catch attention – appropriately – and I smile a lot. I lead with my magic so it makes people want to approach me. Try it…you’ll notice a huge difference.
2. Connect First, Educate Second
Many years ago my good friend Adam Urbanski gave me a tip in networking situations that has served me quite well. Listen first, find out what people need/want, then educate them on what you do that solves their problem. So many times I watch well-meaning business owners “accost” the person they are speaking to with their agenda and never really take the time to get to know what their needs.
Building a real connection creates a reason to continue the transaction beyond that first meeting. If someone feels pitched too they will most likely rebuff your attempts to connect after the event. But when someone feels that you have truly connected and can help them SOLVE their pain, they will be attracted to you and open to furthering the dialogue.
3. Wow With Follow Up
Remember the 80/20 rule? Well it works with the connections you make at live events. Know that the meeting and exchanging of contact information is that sweet “20%”. But what you do in the 80% afterward is where the traction happens.
Let me first be very clear about what you DON’T want to do: just stick someone on your list and forget about them. This just screams YOU ARE JUST A LEAD!
Depending on the level of connection, I recommend you pick up the phone or send a personalized card. You can follow up by email and share with them a resource (we often will send our new friends a copy of the 101 Ways to Triple your Income and Time Off Tool) or an article that may be appealing.
If you are really savvy, you’ll continue to connect with them via a series of automated emails or mailings (we use Send Out Cards to send a series of postcards). Then the next time you meet, you will stick out in their mind with “wow” I remember them!
Melanie Benson Strick, CEO of Success Connections & Virtual Team Building Expert, helps entrepreneurs kick overwhelm to the curb so they can exponentially grow and have more time for what they love.
Revolutionize your results with our free leverage toolkit, 101 Ways to Triple Your Income & Time Off by Doing What You Do Best at http://www.succesconnections.com/101ways.