by Bill Orr
Well, January, that is how you start a year.
Of course, I’m not talking about glorious marches,
I’m talking about the wonderful networking opportunities that have presented themselves in the first weeks of 2017. From the Consumer Electronics Show to the Fancy Food Show, opportunities abound to increase your network, connect with colleagues, meet new partners and reacquaint yourself with colleagues. As they say, the doors are open, time to walk in.
And yet, many professionals struggle with an ability to foster profitable productive relationships through networking. In our digital ecosystem, I have found many of my peers insulate themselves from the fresh perspective of actually going out and meeting someone new. Some of us may recall a time when one actually had to leave the office, go to an event, or even a lunch, and (gulp!) introduce yourself to someone new. How times have changed.
Not so fast. For those of us who grew up in the agency business, there isn’t much to networking. Listening and helping is just what we do. It’s part of our DNA. But for those who need to look up from LinkedIn and SnapChat on occasion, here is a quick primer on how you can break through and meet someone new. I call it the 4B’s:
The 4B’s of Networking
- Be Curious. There is a certain appetite one needs to be successful. And the appetizer for the meal is real curiosity. A little homework can go a long way, so do take the time to familiarize yourself with an event’s agenda, the speaker’s bio, the topics to be discussed. This will help shape your thinking going in by placing an emphasis on learning as much as you can, with the complementary by-product being meeting like-minded people who are curious too.
- Be a Great Listener. By now this should go without saying it. Stop talking and listen. You will be surprised what you learn by listening deeply to a conversation and engaging when the moment is right, not just when you believe it is advantageous.
- Be Present. Yes, social media and its many platforms are important. All forms of communications are critical to feeding the curious mind and extending your antenna to listen to conversations around events and topics. So while it is okay to tweet and post during a lecture, it is never OK to tweet and post while trying to have a meaningful conversation with another professional. You can do that at the office. While you are out, be present.
- Be Helpful. Chances are you are going to meet a few people. Some may be burgeoning productive and profitable relationships for the future. Some may not. But all require follow up. So please, do send that thank you note. Do make that introduction that you promised. And do be respectful of people’s time and requests. You would expect the same. Pay it forward!
If you are looking for other tips on breaking through, check out our podcast: Everything Speaks, where you will find even more ideas.
Bill is Chief Strategy Officer at DoubleFortePR. Find him on LinkedIn.