I’m about to tell you something you probably already know…
Most people wait to start networking until they have something to sell.Most people wait to start networking until they have something to sell. Click To Tweet
No one goes to a networking event and goes “oh, let’s see how many products and services I can buy.”
THAT is why networking feels so shallow…
Because it can be.
If you’re politely nodding along while someone pitches you and just waiting for your turn to jump in to pitch your thing, you’re doing it alllll wrong.If you're politely nodding along while someone pitches you and just waiting for your turn to jump in to pitch your thing, you're doing it alllll wrong. Click To Tweet
Think about it this way… How many times have you gotten someone’s card and then ended up throwing it away instead of following up with them?
I posted this awhile back on my Instagram story…
Needless to say, there were a few people who were NOT fans of it.
Here’s the thing…
I meet SO many new people every single week that if we didn’t have a real conversation and had no REAL connection, there’s absolutely no reason for me to follow-up with you.
I probably don’t remember you and even if I did end up following up with you, you probably wouldn’t remember me.
… and even IF you did, the interaction would be fake and meaningless because we have no rapport.
Let’s be real:
I’m not the only person who throws away business cards.
You probably have a stack of them sitting somewhere that you’ll eventually throw out.
Maybe your stack is in the middle console of your car, your desk drawer or if you’re like my ex, he used to leave them in his suit jackets (which I’m sure the dry cleaner LOVED him for).
So, you’re out somewhere, whether that’s at a networking event, hanging out with your friends or standing in line at the grocery store and the infamous business card exchange happens… How do you turn that business card into an actual relationship?
It’s not just luck… There’s a strategy behind it.
Have Meaningful Conversations Before Exchanging Cards
First things first, you shouldn’t even be taking people’s cards unless you actually have a meaningful conversation.Don't exchange business cards until you've had a meaningful conversation. Click To Tweet
I’m a HUGEEEEEEEEEEEE advocate of that.
In fact, I don’t even give out my business cards first (partially because I always forget to bring them)… I take them.
Think about it for a second…
99.999999% of people take cards, let them stack up and then throw them away.
After reading this, you’re not going to be like that…
You’re going to be the person who has a system for following up with new people without getting overwhelmed so that you can focus on nurturing your relationships, rather than trying to figure out what to say when you reach out.
If you get their card, you know that you have the power to follow-up with them… If you GIVE your card without getting one in return, you have zero control over whether or not you guys reconnect again.So, before you get their card, have a meaningful conversation. Click To Tweet
So, before you get their card, have a meaningful conversation.
While you’re talking to them, figure out how you can contribute value.
Yes, you read that right… CONTRIBUTE, not receive.
Who can you introduce them to that can help them reach their goals?
What resource do you have that they might find useful?
Whatever piece of value you have to offer, it should take less than five minutes to deliver.
THAT IS A MAJOR KEY.
If you start making all types of promises that take you longer than that, burnout is INEVITABLE.
Once you’ve mentioned what you’d like to do for them, ask for their card and you now have a reason to follow-up and they are looking forward to connecting with you again.
MAJOR KEY #2: Write on their card a quick reminder about what you talked about AND the action item that you promised them.
This serves a few purposes…
Networking Is About Connections, Not Contacts.
There’s a difference…
Connections are genuine, authentic conversations.
Contacts count as ANY interaction.
You don’t need to take every person’s card.
You don’t even need to meet every single person.You don't need to take every person's card... You don't even need to meet every single person. Click To Tweet
If you’re doing it right, you’re building incredible relationships and those people will help you meet other people you want to meet.
One time I was at a networking event and one of the guys from a moving company walked around the room, shook everyone’s hands, introduced himself, gave them a card and walked away.
While I commend him for his willingness to put himself out there, there was absolutely no value exchanged in that relationship. I can’t even tell you how many of his cards I saw laying around and I even threw out his card when I left and to top it off, he added me to his email list right after and I unsubscribed PRONTO.
THAT IS NOT HOW YOU NETWORK.
Sure, you can play the numbers game and maybeeeeee one person mighttttt call you, but what if you could walk away from every networking situation with two or three people who were ACTUALLY looking forward to hearing from you again?
That’s the approach we’re taking here.
Let’s be clear…
Your follow-up doesn’t necessarily have to be about your business or anything work related… If you have a great conversation with someone and you have a five-minute favor to offer them, do it. That’s how you build emotional capital with people and you develop a reputation for being someone who people WANT to work with because you’re resourceful.
Plus, you NEVER know how those people will come back into your life later on.
Business comes from friendships all the time, you just have to be willing to invest in the people.Business comes from friendships all the time, you just have to be willing to invest in the people. Click To Tweet
Major Key: Don’t take someone’s card unless you know at least three things about them.
By the time you’ve talked to them and gotten to know them some, the follow-up will be infinitely easier.
If you have a hard time with small talk and having meaningful conversations with strangers, this post will DEFINITELY help you:
Contribute Value First
By making sure that you write down BOTH what you talked about AND your action item, you’re setting the stage to contribute value.Write down what you talked about on someone's business card for easy follow-up. Click To Tweet
Most people who “network” follow-up with something like, “it was so nice to meet you. If you ever need a ___, please call me.”
Meh, that’s so forgettable.
There’s no authority in that.
Now if you talked to someone about how they’re getting married and need are in need of a wedding photographer, you can say something like…
“I have a great friend of mine who does INCREDIBLE wedding photos so I’d love to introduce you to him. No pressure or anything, just want to make sure you have a resource to go to. He’s so awesome… I can’t even say enough good things about him! I’ll send you both an email to introduce you and I’ll give you a link to his portfolio. How does that sound?”
Don’t you think their jaw is going to drop?
That’s the point.
Not only did you start by contributing value, it shows how much you actually listen and CARE about them.
Remember, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. Click To Tweet
People also do business with people they know, like and trust.People do business with people they know, like and trust. Click To Tweet
By starting your relationship off from a place of contribution, you’re already getting them to know what you’re like, like you and TRUST that you do what you say you’ll do.
Let’s not forget that by making an introduction, it gives you an opportunity to connect with the other people in your network and show them that you’re a mover and shaker too.
People like people who build each other up, so bam.
… You’re killing about 20 birds with one stone.
Everyone also likes to associate with movers and shakers.
This TOTALLY works to your advantage because it gives you an opportunity to follow-up again to make sure they connected and you’re setting the stage for a relationship based on making introductions… and when you
MAKE introductions, your people start to introduce you to other people too.
However, your action item doesn’t necessarily have to be an introduction — it can also be a recommendation for a book, place, thing, whatever. I’m really a fan of introductions but if you’re just starting out and don’t have a huge network yet, any item of value that takes you less than five minutes to deliver will be valuable.
People aren’t inherently selfish, so if you focus on strategically giving, at some point, it will come back around… and people will be excited to help you.
Having A Reason To Follow-Up Makes It Infinitely Easier
Now that you actually have a reason to follow up, reaching out after is so much easier.
A lot of people I talk to are worried about “bothering” people and that’s why they don’t want to follow-up, but if you’re helping them solve a problem, you’re both going to be excited to chat again.
Alright, so now that you have their card and you’ve put it away, what do you do next?
I wrote a wholeeee post about how to follow-up with your new connections.
Ready to take it a step further and learn how to follow-up after meeting new people so that you steal mindshare, build credibility quickly and can scale your network without burning out?
I’ve got a totally free workshop to help you do just that: