Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Making Connections

With the rise of Internet Social Media sites such as MySpace.com and FaceBook.com, the world has changed some relationship definitions. Toss in Twitter and Linkedin and there are plenty of ways to stay connected via the Internet.

But what about the quality of those connections?

Do people recognize you on the street? (I was in a parade a few years ago and an old friend of mind from 30 years ago recognized me and called out my name. I zoomed into the crowd in the direction that I heard the voice and saw an old scouting buddy, we have since reconnected.)

Do people refer others to you? A few times a month, I will get a call from someone refering a business lead to me, based on the relationship that we have.

Do people from your past want to stay connected with you? Some people I see every week, others every year. But for those that matter the most, time isn't an issue.

Do you help others make connections? In this world of knowing the right person, I enjoy referring leads and connections to others. The only way to do this is to know others and have others know you.

Here's some pointers and examples of what I have done:

  • Join a bonafide networking group. These range from very organized such as B.N.I. that charges annual and monthly dues in return for exclusivity; to less formal, open networking groups that meet at least once or twice a month.
  • Join a special interest group that is not linked to your occupation. I serve on a couple of non-profit organizations boards and committees along with a marketing advisory board for a financial firm.
  • Join a trade organization. I am on the board of directors for the Advertising Federation of Fort Wayne. This year I am involved on the programs committee and serve as the V-P of Communications.
  • Attend mixers. Our local Chamber of Commerce has a monthly morning mix, and a monthly meet me at 5. I'll attend some of these on occasion.
  • Get out and knock on some doors. It's called cold calling. One of my financial advisers I met by simply walking into his office and scheduling an appointment. Many of my clients are acquired by beating the bushes.
Now here's how I use some of the above to make connections:
  • When I'm in a networking meeting or mixer, I almost never try and sell anything. I am there to make contacts. I am there to meet others and find out what they do. I am there to make a positive impression.
  • When I'm in a networking meeting or mixer, I look to meet at least one or two people that I did not know before. This is better than working the room and trying to meet everyone. Because I commit to attending and connecting, I will eventually meet with everyone I should meet with over time, or they will seek me out.
  • When I'm in a networking meeting or mixer, I check in with those folks that I know, and introduce them to others at the event that I know.
  • When I am cold calling in person, I simply carry an appointment book and some of my cards. I am on a mission to schedule appointments. Even if they want to talk right then and there, I limit myself to 10 minutes at the most, and schedule a regular appointment, even if it is for 2 hours later that same day.
See, it may look impressive to have 120 connections on Linked In, or 30 followers on Twitter, but the real value is in the value of the people you are connected to.

It comes down to, "To make a friend, be a friend".

Your comments are always welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Hi :)

    Great post with rare insights! Very useful information for people who really want to succeed in business.

    I am very familiar with cold canvassing. I used to spend at least 2 to 3 hours every day for cold canvassing. The idea is to locate a future prospect or to identify a customer who is not aware of his immediate need. Some times this involves high pressure selling because when the prospect is made to understand that he needs the product or service, the next thing is to convince him to buy the product immediately. He might give several excuses for not buying the product and try to postpone the decision. Here is where high pressure selling starts.

    Many thanks for the useful post.

    Have a good day :)