Today, it seems we are hearing about social networking everywhere. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like have become a central part of our lives and part of how we inform our friends and colleagues what we are doing. Still, let’s take a moment to reflect on the value of social networking the old fashioned way.
Feed the soul and a rusty connection with lunch.There is something to be said about breaking bread with people you would like to strengthen a connection with. Take the time to discuss what is going on in business, but also pay attention to the personal side of life. This will give you an insight to the person and strengthen your connection with them. Booking a lunch date is the old-school Facebook.
Make the most of trade shows. We spend a lot of time worrying about displays, sell sheets, raffle items and what we are going to wear. These are all important factors when you are trying to make a first impression. But when you are attending to your display, it is sometimes difficult to strike up a conversation with people walking by. Have someone cover your display while you walk around and visit other vendors. When you are in other people’s space, you can come up with questions about their business and make a new connection. Make their space “MySpace” and learn all you can. Find ways your businesses can work together. Always have plenty of business cards in your pocket and be sure to leave one with them, not just in the raffle pile.
Volunteer for a cause to create opportunities. The best approach is to be part of a committee for the organization. This puts you in a role with other people where you are making decisions together for the good of others. It is a great way to form a bond with people. Committees are usually filled with business leaders and decision makers. It gives people the opportunity to see your commitment and your way of thinking without being a hard sell. Building a mutual respect for someone who shares a common interest is a great foundation for a long lasting relationship and will make your heart twitter.
Get out and be social. One of my favorite ways to network is the good old fashioned party. Barbeques, holiday parties and fund raising events are places where people have their guard down and can be themselves. Take the opportunity to meet new people and make small talk to find out what people do for work. I would never suggest walking around handing out business cards at a friend’s barbeque, but if the conversation leads to interest in your work, you should have one nearby to give. Social gatherings should never be a hard sell; it is a perfect time to strengthen connections with your current friends and associates as well as meet new connections. Social interaction helps keep you in the sights of your friends and colleagues. Your friends are your live LinkedIn account.
Get social, smile, repeat. Repeated positive interactions with a potential client increases the chance of you coming to mind in business. Never miss an opportunity just to say a quick “hi” and shake hands at the grocery store or when you cross paths at the mall. If you can’t remember someone’s name you should always have a plan. One of my favorite tactics is to let the person I am with know that I can’t remember someone’s name, and have them introduce themselves in hopes your contact will introduce themselves. Face time builds familiarity. That is a good thing. Let’s get social, and if you are having a party, I’d love to be on the list.
– Joanne Jordan