1. O.M.G. One Main Goal Set one simple goal for yourself before each meeting, event or conversation with a prospective business partner. “Meet two people that also manufacture widgets and see what makes each one unique”
2. M.M.M. Meet Mingle Memorize When entering a room make sure to smile and make eye contact with people. Be courteous to those who may be greeting you. People tend to watch doorways to see who is entering. You don’t want their first impression of you to be bad. A huge part of successful networking is managing your actions and expressions. It is also important to not become so involved in a conversation that you do not have time to meet someone new. Take a mental note of the key points of the conversation or something special about the person you spoke with.
3. W.H.A.T. What is your Industry, Hobbies, All about them a little about you, Tell me more… The best questions are ones that are not a simple yes or no. “Who’s your ideal prospect?” “What is your greatest accomplishment this year?” “What do you do in your free time?” Not all conversations need to lead to a sale. Building a connection with someone that has similar interest can lead to stronger connections that are not just sales based.
4. V.A.L.U.E. Volunteer, Align, Listen, Understand, Engage Add value to all relationships. Give freely of your time, connections, knowledge, etc. and expect nothing in return. What are you amazing at that they may need help with? Who do you know that can help solve their problems? Be known as a resource and surround yourself with people who are valued resources as well.
5. T.H.E.M. Their Method Every Message There is nothing worse than the promise of a follow up that never happens. Set a realistic expectation and keep true to your word. Set aside time each week on your calendar to follow up with people you just met and to foster the relationships you already have. It is imperative to ask for their preferred contact method: email, mail, text, fax, LinkedIn, cell or office. Adapt to their preference, it’s about them and not you. When connecting make sure you send a message about a conversation that you would like to continue or why you want to connect. Follow up regularly so that you don’t become forgotten.
Most Importantly: Be yourself. Be bold. Be Daring. The worst that will happen is that one person may dislike you but ten others will adore you. Build your own tribe. Surround yourself with people you adore. It makes work so much better. If we all drank tea there would be no Tequila.
AUTHOR INFORMATION: Stephen Harrington Personal Lines Director Cross Insurance Agency