It seems to me that attending a networking function has a distinct resemblance to visiting the doctor. Seriously, hang with me on this a minute. When you go to the Dr. you are visiting an expert in health. So, let me ask ya this…aren’t you the expert in your field? …in your industry?
When you visit a Dr. the typical process goes something like this:
- The Dr. enters the room and offers a greeting, and maybe an introduction.
- Then asks questions such as, “tell me about your issues?”
- They listen carefully to your explanation using each detail to better understand your symptoms.
- Then, the Dr. determines how they can help you by providing their prognosis.
- Sometimes they decide that you should see a specialist. (Someone that is more experienced and knowledgeable within a specific area.)
- Finally the prescription is written and handed to you, often times followed by a request to come back in a couple of weeks…or next month.
Ok, so now consider that you, as a networker, have just become known as Dr. (enter your name here).
Here are some suggestions on how to approach networking….be the Dr.
1. Ask probing questions: When in a conversation make eye contact, look at the person the majority of the time. The questions should invoke an explanation about what they do and who it helps.
2. Listen to the response: Determine the concerning issues. When in a conversation the most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said. Pay attention. (I don’t know about you, but it annoys me when I’m describing my ailments to the Dr., and they are busy scanning through my chart at the same time. I feel like they are more concerned about me when they’re giving me their full attention.)
3. Be sincere – Both you and the people you are networking with should get something out of the experience. If you’re in it for yourself, people are going to see through you pretty quickly. Always start with a positive attitude. Your goal is to establish relationships – no one wants to spend time with a whiner or negative attitude. (I certainly don’t feel good about seeing a grumpy, negative Dr…although I don’t want them to be too happy about my illness either.)
4. Provide your prognosis. What have you learned from listening? Now is the opportunity to demonstrate you’ve been listening and you can provide a couple of tips on how you and your company help? If you realize there isn’t much of a business match for you. I suggest you try to find someone else that may be a good fit. (Refer them to the specialist). People will remember you for those random acts of kindness.
5. What’s your business prescription? I suggest you don’t make a full presentation while networking. The intent is to meet people and build relationships. Any presentations or detailed discussions should only happen as a result of your networking. Your prescription is simple; provide the person whom you’ve just met with a business card. The pharmacist may not like it much, but it could help to ease some pain.
The point isn’t just to introduce yourself, give out business card, and leave. The point is to make personal connections with others. Earn the reputation of an expert – establish yourself as a strong resource and people will turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc.
By establishing yourself as an expert everyone knows you and every one will want to know you…you create your own buzz.
Now please, go out, extend a hand, and be the Dr. in the know!
Have a great Kansas City day!