Topic of the Week Source Code: Introducing Yourself When Networking
- WHO you are.
- HOW you know them.
- WHY you're contacting them.
- WHAT you want to happen next.
The issue isn't should you network, for most the question is how. Which reminds me of Edwin Ramos of Vineland, NJ. He spent much of the early part of this year warning people that the earth won't end in 2012, but during May of 2011 (spoiler alert, if you're still alive, Mr. Ramos had it wrong). He sold his business to buy an RV so he could do his Paul Revere imitation. BTW, his dad bought Mr. Ramos' successful construction business.
Ramos believed in the importance of saying goodbye. My goal is to help you learn a new way to say hello, one of the keys to successful networking. That's why I've included the who, how, why and what for making a great first impression when networking for business. For more, check out "Cracking The Hidden Job Market" by David Asher (Ten Speed, 2010).
WHO you are. State your name, slowly and precisely. If people in the past have had struggles with your name there are a variety of tricks you can use. First, if a famous person has a similar name, you can refer to that. Or you can use a simple word that rhymes with your name. There is also always a business card to show them what it looks like in writing. If they struggle to remember who you are you've negated the main benefit of networking.
HOW you know them. I recently met someone who I had volunteered for many years earlier, but it was fifteen years ago. So when I reconnected with him I reminded him of this. He immediately started treating me like family. The trouble is that many people just assume that the person will remember this kind of connection. They don't. Heck, some days I look in the mirror and I barely remember myself. So take the time to succinctly explain your past with the person you're networking with.
WHY you're contacting them. It's always helpful to know where a person is coming from. Do they want a job, a contract or just to thank you for something that you did for them years ago? The sooner you let them know, the more they'll be able to focus on whatever you want them to focus on with you.
WHAT you want to happen next. This is closely, but not totally related to the previous question. For example, you may be contacting them for work, but you need to be clear if you're looking for a project, a full time job or either. I've been involved in conversations like this where the person really isn't clear on what they want and it makes it hard to give them what they're looking for. Go into all networking meetings with a plan of how you'd like them to turn out. I'm not saying be rigid, you always need to react to the situation, but it's all easier when you start with a game plan.
Use these strategies and what begins well has a greater chance of ending well too.
About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winningworkplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via email@example.com.