Connecting is something we all must do in order to build business and keep our business relationships strong. However, not everyone is a natural at it. In fact, many people dislike the prospect of having to meet and speak to people to make those connections — and therefore they avoid doing it altogether.
But while networking generally means ‘meet and chat’ (usually while wrestling with some tired and tasteless canapes) strategic connecting is different. It is being strategic enough to do what you can, what you need to do while taking into consideration what you like and don’t like.
- You don’t like leaving the office
Make the most of your email, your social media accounts and your phone. You can build relationships with people online these days without actually having to meet them.
Do your keyboard research and get to know people. This will make you feel more comfortable when reaching out to connect with them. Like with all connecting, make sure they know what is in it for them. Remember that people are receiving emails and messages all day every day so what will make your one special?
- You don’t like networking events
You can avoid these if you want. However it will take you 10 times as long to reach your connecting targets if you don’t at least get up and get out once a month. If you really dislike networking events, then only attend the lunch/dinner style events that seat you in a designated place. This way you are not forced to “work the room” — as you are placed on a table and only have to chat with the people around you. It takes the effort out of connecting. To make it even easier on yourself, see if you can find out (ask the organizers) who else will be on your table. You can do a little online research and make the most of the networking time.
- You don’t like time wasters
I am finding more and more people who don’t put in the effort to sell to me or even reach out to me — which just wastes their time and mine. If you are very particular about time wasters, there are ways you can filter them out very quickly.
* Set up your LinkedIn account so that only those who have your email address can send you a connection.
* Have your Twitter set as private, so you approve who follows you.
* Delete all emails that are generic and don’t address you by your first name.
* Throw out any business cards that have been handed to you at an event that you didn’t ask for.
* Have your assistant or another staff member ask a set of 3 questions of anyone trying to access you before they are approved.
* If someone wants to catch up for coffee ask them to outline the reasons they want to meet, before you agree.
* Charge for your time (pre-paid).
- You dislike networking or people in general
This is very common for people who are brilliant at what they do (technicians) however hate having to secure business or build a network to do it. If this sounds like you, then outsource the networking to someone who does it and does it well. I work with businesses ranging from SMEs up to large companies across a range of industries, to help them develop a connection strategy — as well as implement it for those who don’t have the time or truly dislike doing it.