The holidays might just as well be here. Your planning should have already begun and, if you are proactive, you should have everything but the hors’d’oeurves ordered. In many ways, however, that’s the easy part. It’s what happens once you get people coming through your business center or coworking doors that counts. How do you keep them from leaving and walking down the street to the competition? How do you optimize these connections without being perceived as either reclusive or phony?
We asked Laura Kozelouzek, CEO of Quest Workspaces, and someone who has revolutionized the “workplace culture” by building executive office suites around adult playground spaces designed for socializing, networking and idea-sharing. If Laura’s tips sound almost like a first date, well…
Be charming and approachable.
This is so important, and we have all heard the saying “people want to do business with people they like.” So when given the opportunity to connect be likable. If you find that challenging or are not quite sure what I’m talking about then I suggest you read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
“Hooking up” should not be one-sided.
Be a resource to others; understand their needs by asking open ended questions and then listening. If you approach networking as how you can help others rather than what you can get out of it, you will get much further.
Start with the base hit, don’t go straight for the home run!
Building relationships take time, and you need to be respectful and build a bond over time. Don’t jump right in and ask for help, you may come across as insincere and pushy.
It’s not how many relationships you have, it’s the quality of the relationship that matters.
We have all seen the “turbo connectors” attending events, spending no more than one or two minutes jumping from guest to guest, and collecting hundreds of business cards in a single evening. They then load the names into a database and regularly send usually annoying emails. These “players” give networking a bad name. I have found that it is better to invest time and effort into fewer connections (quality, not quantity) in which you have identified ways you can help each other. You’re going for the deep meaningful relationship not the shallow and superficial playing the field approach.
Dealing with rejection.
If you follow up and do not get a response, then maybe “They’re Just Not That Into You” or then again maybe they are just busy! It’s OK to be persistent to a point, change it up, maybe drop in to talk face to face, use humor, but whatever you do not take it personally if they don’t respond there are plenty of other fish in the sea!
Nurture the relationship.
Make it a point to follow up with a brief email, and do it with personality. The best correspondence is directed, relevant and with purpose, and it helps anchor the previous interaction. Make it a priority to reach out to new contacts on a regular basis. Recognize their achievements, offer assistance when appropriate and remember that all good relationships require attention.
If you follow these tips you may actually become a world class “lover “of networking! You will also build your business and you will certainly have an interesting and exciting New Year! Happy hook ups!