by Jamara Wilson | Featured Contributor
Attending networking events has become overrated. You attend a mixer of many people with the intention to network your way to a sale or warm lead. Then you find yourself speaking to a dozen people who asks what is it that you do before even asking your name. All of which have decided to hand you their business cards. Although, you never asked for it.
After two hours of speaking with more people than you can remember, you find yourself holding 15 business cards. You’ll be lucky if you’re actually interested in 30% of them.
I’ve attended many networking events over the years. Two years ago, I decided to work smarter rather than harder when it came to networking. I limited the number of networking events I attended to only the ones I knew would be mutually beneficial to the other party and myself. I became strategic in who and where I spend my time.
The thing to remember about networking is it’s not just a single interaction that helps you win. Networking your way to the top requires building genuine relationships with the right people. The right people being those who are empowered to make the decision or influence the decision.
The other thing to remember is these people are often times connected with other decision makers who may or may not be within the same industry. If you succeed in one connection, you’ll succeed in another.
Here are 7 ways on how to network your way to the decision maker.
1) Don’t Ignore The Little Guy
Just because you aren’t speaking with the person whose empowered to make the decision, doesn’t mean you should treat them as if they have no influence. Often times, the decision maker has a gatekeeper. This could be the Executive Assistant, VP of Operations, or anyone in between. Respecting and showing value to the person who has the capability to introduce you to the right person, helps them make the decision to do so.
2) Think Not What They Can Do For You, But What You Can Do For Them
Going into any relationship thinking selfishly is not good for the long term. Networking isn’t just about receiving, it’s about reciprocity. Show your target that you are valuable to them. Ask them if there is anything that you can do for them. There may be a challenge or problem they are dealing with and don’t have a resource to resolve the issue. You may be the solution they are waiting for. Offering your network or resources to someone before you ask them for anything, shows you’re willing to serve.
3) Create an Intimate Surrounding
Let’s do lunch! Invite your target out for an intimate setting. Grab coffee, tea, dinner, or even a celebratory cocktail. Creating a setting where they can be comfortable and converse with you without any distractions is a great way to learn about someone on a personal level.
Getting to know something personal about your target allows you to relate and build rapport. Building rapport, makes you memorable.
4) Get Involved With What They Are Involved In
You want to be in front of your target as much as possible. Become identifiable. If you are interested in building a relationship with them for profitable gain, then showing you take an interest in what they are involved in let’s them know you are serious about establishing a relationship.
5) Be Authentic
Always be yourself. Even when you disagree with your target. If that should happen, be the first to say “It looks we are going to have to agree to disagree.” Being transparent about your beliefs, and position on topics, that may come up in discussion shows your human. You show you are an individual and there begins the building of trust. Remember, people still do business with people they like.
6) Be Patient
Understand that getting to the decision maker or a chance at presenting, can take time. Be patient and show grace while your waiting.
7) Follow Up
Follow up while being patient. Send an email or handwritten note in the mail checking in on your target. It could be something as simple as “Hi Linda, you crossed my mind and wanted to check on you. How are you and your family?”. Remember, your building a relationship. Relationships need communication to survive. Remember, you want to be identifiable and memorable. Don’t let them forget you.
It’s not about “knowing of” everyone in the room, but instead “knowing” the right people in the room.
What are some effective ways you network?
Sitting outside of a bistro reading a good book or typing away on her laptop, with a cup of tea in arms reach, is where you will find this gutsy entrepreneur!
Jamara Wilson is the CEO and Founder of Tuxedo Impressions LLC™. A company that helps small businesses establish efficiency through automation and organized systems using integrable applications. Tuxedo Impressions LLC™ provide clients with the confidence needed to grow their business and the time to make it happen.
You can find Jamara compartmentalizing her thoughts on her blogs.
Business Memos From a Gutsy Entrepreneur is a blog Jamara started shortly after launching her business. It’s written for fearless entrepreneurs who want to minimize failures and learn all they can to succeed as the CEO, Chief Everything Officer. His Majesty’s Favorite is an insightful and inspiration blog written to encourage self growth from a place of self actualization.
When not working, you can find Jamara dancing, traveling, spending time with friends, shopping new teas, or walking through the city pretending she’s a tourist. She aims to be in a position to give back to a large community of people in infinite ways.