Day #14: How to Network The Right Way!

I hate networking. There, I said it! However, I recognize that it is the single easiest and most effective way to expand a business. Because of that, it's obviously a necessary evil.

Even if you hate networking like me there are a couple of strategies you can use to make it a comfortable and powerful marketing process. After a while, you'll be a pro.

Shut up, shut up, shut up…

If you are an introvert like me, you have an advantage that you probably don't even realize – the ability to listen.

When most people network, they spend much of the time “working the room.” Well, not only is that not effective, it's annoying. Who wants to talk to someone that just wants to discuss their business and how great it is? Not only that, you know that as soon as they are done spouting off their mouth, they are going to forget who you are and move on to the next person.

You need to be different. It's not about the quantity of people that you talk to but the quality of the conversations you have.

Which is the better situation, talking to 100 people that think you are annoying or crating relationships with 3 people that think you are amazing and want to tell everyone about you? Please say the latter…

The first networking event that I went to was a tweetup in Mission Viejo, CA. While I was there I spent almost the whole time talking to one person. That person ended up being an author and one of the leading experts in utilizing LinkedIn for business. That one relationship brought me so much value over the last 6 months and definitely overshadowed my conversations with “room workers”.

Don't be afraid to say yes

You are not going to sign a deal on the spot so don't be afraid to say yes to any questions. When people asked if I could program iPhone apps my answer was yes. When they asked if I could build a social network, my answer was yes. When asked if I knew Search Engine Optimization, I said yes.

Saying yes immediately puts you in the mind of other people as a possible business partner or provider. They'll remember you when talking to friends and business colleagues. You'll become relevant to their life and they'll become a part of your sales force.

One person I met at ConnectOC referred me to 3 people in a span of a month. The gigs weren't something I could use a virtual asstant for, but nonetheless it was pretty cool seeing the power of saying yes.

Don't bring business cards

I don't bring business cards to networking events anymore. Crazy huh? Not really.

Everyone has business cards. The fact that I don't bring them makes me stand out. It also provides me with permission for me to contact whoever I meet. What I do is this, when someone asks me for a business card I politely let them know that I forgot to bring mine or that I'm all out, but that I would love to have theirs and I'll give them a call or email them as soon as I get home. Bam, an easy way to become a welcomed guest and not an unwanted pest (as Dan Kennedy would say). In effect, they expect me to contact them, and even look forward to it sometimes.

What about an elevator pitch

Want to know the secret to an elevator pitch? Okay, here's the secret…. don't have one.

If I had an elevator pitch I'd be stuck doing web development and not doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO), marketing, web development, affiliate marketing, product development, consulting, and so on. Why would I want to pigeon hole myself? I am a generalist and a CEO. If I find an opportunity I'll find a VA that can fullfill it.

When you listen to someone and have a dialogue, they'll be much more interested in what you do. It's okay to say “I don't know” and then go on to list what you want to do.

Action Item: Make a Friend

Since you probably haven't attended a networking event like you were supposed to yesterday, focus on making 1-2 great relationships when you attend your first event. Feel free to bring business cards if you choose, but they aren't necessary. be yourself and enjoy the conversation. Opportunities will come to you.