Monday, March 6, 2017

Networking – The Golden Contact

Many times we are encouraged to build our network so that we may build that bridge for the next opportunity, and as Porter Gale state it clearly “Your Network Is Your Net Worth”, the question is how do we do it right? Reflecting back on my 17 years’ journey in the field of community development, ICT, design and training, I don’t remember anywhere we were taught how to network.



Networking might sound simple and yet it is not, you have to be prepared to handle the unexpected and the expected. I have stumbled upon on many trials, no replies, disinterested people just to mention but a few, these are factors that can take you to a lonely corner, especially if no one knows you in a particular event or if you aren’t a celebrity.

Celebrity or no celebrity status, you shouldn’t be afraid to give it another try until one day that the CEO or whoever you are targeting responds. Below I would like to share with you some pf the tips I have gathered from my many years of experience at meetings, fellowship, events, etc. Remember, an opportunity for networking can present itself in two folds; planned events and unplanned occasions.

Your Pitch / Story

I would advise you to have an elevator pitch that genuinely reflects what you do, who you are and why you do it. I wouldn't advise on cramming your pitch because the context might be different and you may need tweaking to fit the context.

Always be alert and flexible to fine tune on the fly to fit in your content in the context. One thing that you shouldn’t forget to do is to offer your contact a chance to also explain what they do, while you actively listen for any synergies to take the conversation to the next level. The rule of the thumb, always give and take, be willing to find areas of collaboration. Remember the world out there is in shortage of genuine collaborators playing the win-win from the start.

Your Target 

Do you have a specific person you are targeting? What about particular titles or position? Do you have any preference? How many people would you love to connect with at an event? Here the answer is yes / no, but I would advise you have a brainstorm on the above questions so that you just don’t end up talking to everyone which is also impossible in an event and also to keep it open because you never know, the person who might not be on your preference list might be the gate pass to the next golden contact.

A good knowledge of the person or the organization they work for would also come handy in connecting the dots, even though I wouldn’t say it is must whilst you might be meeting your contact for the first time especially for the unplanned occasion, so keep your option open in some scenarios.

  The heart of a connector; made by me and my son Adrian.

Follow Up 

If there is one thing I have come to love and learn is follow up. Following up is a golden skill in the world of procrastination. It is good to take note of the action points during the conversation and make a point of doing it within the best time possible, especially not more than 2 days because people tend to forget first especially if there were no clear point of interest for further discussion. I would usually try to connect with my next contact on appropriate social media channels and by writing a follow up email.

Conversation

Sometimes it might be challenging to start and end a conversation, especially in an event context. This is a skill you need to master together with active listening to avoid going in circles. I would advise not to pour your heart all out at the fast meet up, the relationship is built over time to achieve the win-win connection. In conclusion, I would say, I rather content with one or two people who are prospective in building the connection further than to try to reach out to as many people as possible in one event. Feel free to share your experience on the comment section below; Thanks for reading, I hope the insights will help you in your next networking hunt! Related article on my blog;

http://wilsenx.blogspot.co.ke/2016/10/the-challenge-next-opportunity_3.html

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