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The Million-Dollar Secret to Networking

Leo Gestetner

Author: Leo Gestetner

Heads up Zenvoy and strategic planning. A Worcester Polytechnic Institute alum, Leo has set up and managed companies for the past 30 years. Loves family life, running and travel. Other posts by Leo Gestetner

Imagine this:  someone you know and trust hands you five lottery tickets, and tells you that one of them is guaranteed to be a $1 million winner.


You respond with sincere thanks, put the tickets in your pocket – and leave them there, never bothering to collect your winnings.

Sound silly? Yet that’s what many of us do in our business lives. We make a simple mistake that is likely to keep us from being successful in our networking.

Sure, we go to networking events, conference and trade shows. We “work the room,” diligently meeting new people and exchanging contact information.

And that’s where we stop. We don’t follow up.

Effective networking is a process. Its goal is to turn an introduction into a real business relationship. Building a relationship takes more than a handshake. It requires knowledge of the other person’s business capabilities and needs, along with confidence in their abilities. And it certainly helps if you like the other person.

 

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Effective networking is a process. Its goal is to turn an introduction into a real business relationship.

None of that can happen without following up on a first meeting. A one-on-one breakfast or lunch is a great way to begin, but even a 10-minute phone call with someone can jump-start the process.

Of course you want to learn about them and their company, and to tell them about yourself. But ask also about their personal interests. Do they golf, sail, run marathons, collect autographs? Is their son or daughter an athlete or musician?

Email can help in the relationship-building process. But make it personal. A mass email about your company’s new product is far less effective than one that says, “Sally – there’s a great article in today’s Wall Street Journal about Golden Retrievers. You mentioned you have one, and I thought you’d enjoy reading it.”

Even better, tear out the article, write a brief note by hand and put it in the mail. It will sure stand out from the daily flood of emails. Let us know what you think…

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