By Ruth Michel
When it comes to networking, spend more time nurturing than meeting. It is tempting to get caught up in number gathering, but people can smell insincerity. If real relationships are to be formed, then it’s essential to be personable. Here are a few ways to act like a human, not a vacuum.
Focus on what you can give.
It’s easy to work the floor with a “me, me, me” mindset. Who will buy my widgets, or who looks like a generous donor? But have you ever flipped this approach and thought, “Who can I help?” Although it may seem like a bother, it can be very effective. Helping others solidifies your relationship with them, and then you’ll have the advantage. People naturally feel the need to reciprocate.
Make a memorable connection.
Find that subject that instigates laughter, insightful discussion or back-and-forth stories. Then use that subject going forward. Note it on your business card before handing it over. “I’m the other guy with twins.” “For the love of honey buns.” “Go Packers.” When you follow up, lead with that subject before pitching, asking or selling.
Follow up – their way.
A hit-and-run approach to networking may beef up your business card collection, but what good are those? You want real connections. Instead of fading from your acquaintances’ memories, follow up. As you exchange contact info, ask if they’re an email, Facebook, LinkedIn or text person. Make a note of their preference, and send a quick message in the next 24 hours. Attempt to start a valuable conversation. That personal exchange will make it hard for them to ignore you later.