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Networking

by Judith Bowman on 05/02/17

Story.

I love sharing the story of Judy George, former Founder, President and CEO of Domain Furniture telling her "story," of being a stay at home wife and mother of four, who wanted to work.  Her husband discouraged this asking why she wanted to work when she had everything she needed.  As Judy George recounts, she loved furniture and wanted to work with furniture.  She saw an advertisement in the local newspaper, and restructured her resume to show her abilities reflected through her life and previous involvement with schools, charities, the community. 

She tried to get an appointment with the president of the furniture company posting the advertisement however, he refused to meet with her because she did not have furniture - specific experience.   Judy George was determined to get the meeting to be considered for the position.  So, Judy George proceeded to implore and "marry the gatekeeper" to whom she had sent her resume.  Still, the president would not meet with her.   Judy George personally went to his office and sat, waiting, hoping the president would meet with her.  Still, this did not happen.  Judy George got creative.  Using her credit card, she took out a line of credit and hired a plane.  She called the gatekeeper one more time, to ask one more favor.  She asked the gatekeeper to have the president look out his window at precisely 12:00 Noon the next day and look up.  That was it.  This was her last request, final favor.  The gatekeeper acquiesced.  The company president conceded and went to his window at 12:00 Noon and looked up only to see a small plane flying overhead which then  dropped a banner that read, "PLEASE MEET WITH JUDY GEORGE."

The president was impressed with her creativity and tenacity and finally agreed to the meeting.  Judy George got hired and went on to become founder, president and CEO of Domain Furniture and presently owner of Judy George International.  The company projects revenue this year of $35 million.

The bottom line:  we don't have to take these measures, go to these lengths, expend this kind of time and expense to get noticed and obtain the much sought-after meeting with the highly desired client or perspective employer ... we just need to get out there and Network!

They say, there are only seven degrees of separation between us and any job or connection we ever endeavor to make.  Therefore, making a conscious effort to consistently expand our network of connections is key.
Social networking aside, real-time networking is about putting yourself physically out there.  ... but what to do once you are there? 
Resist the urge to "cluster" or "put in an appearance" and leave after 15 minutes. 

Networking is:  the single most effective means of meeting the greatest number of qualified individuals within the shortest amount of time while allowing you the opportunity to shake a warm hand, look into someone's eyes, get your message out there and meet others you would never normally have the opportunity to meet.

Inherent in the word itself, Networking is work, and, as with any interpersonal relationship, giving before receiving is not only gracious, but prudent. 

If "90% of success is "showing up" this places a huge emphasis on that 10% of what we do once we are there; preparation is key.  And remember, with all due respect ... no one invites us anywhere because they think we look hungry and need to be fed!  Rather, we are invited for one of two reasons:  1.  someone wants to thank us for our business/prospective business or 2. someone believes we have something to contribute   ... and it is our responsibility to contribute to the overall success of the event, while simultaneously positioning ourselves as a resource. 

Top Tips:
  • Eat something first!
     
  • Obtain a copy of the guest list and familiarize yourself with:
    • attendees' names... and practice pronouncing names!
    • internal company news i.e. an impending merger/acquisition, new product release, etc.
  • Wear appropriate attire (dark colors) and a jacket with large pockets (ladies) -  one for incoming and one for outgoing cards.
     
  • Have a "tag line" prepared specific to this group.
     
  • Upon arrival, go to the restrooms - freshen, pop a breath mint and wash hands thoroughly to eliminate "clammy hands," (the Kiss of Death!)
     
  • Name badges belong (high) on your right side out of consideration for those trying to view, learn, remember and use your name.
     
  • Make your entrance:  Exude positive energy! ... Remember, we as human beings are naturally drawn toward positive energy, positive people!  Let others feel your presence!
     
  • Hold glasses in your LEFT hand (always with a cocktail napkin!) leaving your right hand free to shake hands.
     
  • Approach singles, groups of 3's or more.
     
  • Invest 5-7 minutes per person and then move on.
     
  • Disengage tactfully and provide an introduction before leaving (the proverbial pass-off!)
     
  • Introduce yourself to senior level people you normally would not have the opportunity to meet.
     
  • Actively engage in artful Small Talk and conversation skill, remembering your preparation and research for each conversation launch.
     
  • Always ask before assuming someone wants your card, "May I offer you my card?"
    "May I ask for your card?"
     
  • Make personal notes about the other person to use in subsequent follow-up communication.
     
  • Walk whomever you are speaking with not only to the door, but outside the door as they are leaving to take advantage of "real talk" to advance the relationship; thank them for attending.
     
  • Send a brief email note of thanks, after having identified they are an e-culture person/company, ...  and follow-up with a personal, hand-written note the next day or within 48 hours.  Clearly, the longer you wait, the less impact the gesture holds.  This provides you with an opportunity to get yourself, your company/brand in front of your target and leave yet another Judy Jones "impression."  And, ... 'repetition is reputation!
Act as if this is your event, as if these other guests are your guests, as if you own the room.  And, rather than attending a networking event thinking "what's in it for me," remember to position yourself as a resource. 

Suddenly, you are connected!  

Commit to contributing to the overall success of this event, just as you would as a guest in another's home, to be positively perceived and well-received.  In so doing, we typically experience the greatest rewards. 

Enjoy the process of consciously expanding your network of connections and ... enjoy the journey!

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