Networking and Connections matter a lot in business. It is who you know that matters. How arduous is it to connect with someone higher up the social chain the very first time? It is not laborious. What is more demanding is ‘Staying Connected’.
How to connect the first time?
References, is the best means to connect. If you know a friend directly connected to the contact, this will assist in being & staying connected. Knowing the immediate family makes a big difference. For references to work, you need to have a wider network, For starters, this is not easy. Here are some options:
Conferences & Events: Attending Conferences/Events would be a great place to connect. Identify the events and conferences your contact will be speaking at. Listen to the talk, have some good things to say and exchange cards. Often times the speakers are easy to connect with when they attend events. They need to receive feedback on the speech and this is a great way to start a conversation.
Coffee or Tea breaks @ Events: A lot can happen over coffee. This is another nice venue to strike a conversation / exchange cards. After the conversation, be sure to write a personalized message. If you make 100+ connections at an event, it will be hard to send 100+ personal messages. However select the one’s you really need to connect with and send them a personal note.
Restrooms: I have seen conversations start at restrooms and continue thereafter. This could be bizarre, however, a good place to make the initial connect.
Sporting Opportunities: Morning walks, a game of tennis, (golf, enough has been written about golfing), swimming or any other sporting opportunities are excellent avenues to make the initial connection.
Getting Invited to Parties:This is a great social card to meet with the contact you need to connect with. You never know who will show up in a party. If you get invited to an event and you have the time, make it a point to attend. If you have nothing else to do and get invited to a party/event, make your presence felt.
Have business cards handy: You never know who you will run into. Shopping @ a grocery store, working out in a gym, movie theater and more. You do not want to be seen searching for your business card in your wallet. It is best to have a couple of business cards handy all the time.
It is about what you give. It is not about what you get, It is what you give. Do not expect anything out of a connection and help out. If you are at an event and the organizers are working on a task (say arranging seating , tying the balloons in a birthday party, picking up food/ more), assist and help out. You will feel good that you helped out. The connections are bound to happen.
Staying Connected: This is the hard part. The easiest way to stay connected – just do your work, execute well and grow up the social chain. Others will find a need to stay connected with you. Otherwise, no matter how hard you try, it is difficult to stay connected with folks much higher up in the social chain.