What a Waste
80% of the people I’ve talked to about it think networking is a waste of time. Granted, these are anecdotal interviews, not exhaustive research. However, as a sales rep, account manager, business development specialist and business owner, I’ve been to many cocktail parties, meet and greets and the like. They can be a lot of fun but are often not particularly meaningful for the majority of people attending.
Most people engage in surface level conversation, digging into business a bit, and plan to follow up at a later date/time. In fact, this cycle is kind of the model for networking. However, I’ve seen time and again (and experienced it myself) that the follow up often falls flat. Many of us just don’t take the time to do it properly. Other times, there’s no response from the other end of the line.
What’s the problem?
Why is re-connecting with someone afterwards so difficult, and what does this have to do with social media? I’ll get to the social media aspect in just a moment. First, the biggest problem is that most people ask one question when networking: what’s in it for me?
This would seem to be a logical question. Why else would be networking at all?
Unfortunately sales reps, marketers and advertisers often want to control a conversation. It eventually gets back to their spin, their angle for the discussion. This is surprisingly easy to do in a live conversation. However, many people don’t care for it and often dismiss it later. Hence, the follow up is difficult, the conversation wasn’t impactful and the new connection is not meaningful.
Flip the script
Ask instead, what can I give today? If you make the conversation about helping the people you meet, you will find out a great deal more than you can imagine. You may even find some lasting connections. You will also be able to quickly tell if they are quality contacts for you, because there is no better way to get to know people than by listening to what their needs and wants are. Most people there will be angling for themselves, so it’s pretty easy to get the conversation headed in that direction. 🙂
You will standout, and your call or email is almost guaranteed to be answered if you gave them a real sense that you can and will help.
This relates to Social Media?
Yes. If you are not actively engaged in trying to help your community through your social media efforts, then your voice will lose relevancy. You will become another buzz amongst the bees. Don’t try to push your message and end up alienating yourself instead.
I often read (and rightly so) that a good way to think about your social media voice is to imagine that it’s a big party and you need to be the interesting, fun guest everyone wants to talk to and everyone is talking about. Well, that’s a bit tough for most people. If it wasn’t tough, everyone at the party would be equally interesting and therefore, equally dull. So, be helpful, give insights, take advantage of an opportunity to deepen a relationship.
There is no need to grow a huge following if no one listens to you. And the first step to getting people to listen to you: listen to them, help them solve a problem.
Where did I go wrong?
Let me know if you think I’m all wrong or alright. I always love to hear how social media has worked for your business. Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org