When talking to people about my system of networking I am
often asked “How do you manage a room full of people” This can be daunting,
even for the most confident or experienced networkers. My advice is: First
gather your thoughts and your positive attitude before you walk in, just before
you get out of the car is a good time and place, walk in with a smile, don’t
overdo it or you’ll look scary, and have a plan. My plan is I follow my 3/3/3
Category 1. Talk
to three people you know really well but don’t stay with them, which is always
tempting. Long day, long week, stress at work; you could stay in your comfort
zone. Don’t do it. If needs be arrange a 1-2-1 with them and then move on. You might want to ask people you meet the
question “Who (what type of company) are you looking for?” If you have already
met someone who matches the description, you can make the introduction. If not,
look out for them as you continue to network. Also ask people “Is there anyone
you have met here that you think I should meet?” if the answer is Yes get them
to introduce you.
Category2. Talk to three people that you may
have only met once or twice. This enables you to develop the business
relationship further. Arrange a 1-2-1. Call it ‘having a coffee’ if 1-2-1 sound
too formal. Stay with them longer than people in category 1 because the
relationship is not yet as strong and needs to be developed. Move on, but before
you do, go through the part in italics of category 1 above.
Category3. Talk to three people you have never
met before. This can be a bit scary, but you are all there to network and they
may be relieved to not have to approach someone they don’t know. If you really
can’t do this, talk to the organiser. Make sure they know what you do and ask
them to introduce you to someone with whom there might be synergy, so you can
work together. Stay even longer with them than either of the people in category
1 or 2 because the business relationship is just starting. But do move on and
before you do, go through the part in italics of category 1 above.
Recently I was told my 3/3/3 rule was the thing that had
helped the person I was talking to the most. When I told them that this was
something I had devised I received profuse thanks and another business relationship
was made stronger. When typing that last sentence, I suddenly thought, “Did
someone tell it me and I have forgotten?”, so I Googled it (other search
engines are available) and came up with stuff about routing cables, so I’m
still pretty sure it came from my brain. I am sure people will let me know if I
So I offer you my 3/3/3 rule. Once you have met and talked
to nine people you can, if you wish go, back to your office…or you could go
At a recent networking event I spoke to someone who said
they never wear their name badge, because they thought it made people lazy
about remembering names. I always
wear a name badge and so I started to think about why I do. There are three
The first, and I think the most important, is that I think
we all have moments when we can’t remember a person’s name or where they work.
A quick glance at a name badge and we relax into the conversation rather than
some part of our brain wondering what the missing details are. This means we
can concentrate completely on what is being said, and surely that aids
communication and building relationships?
The second reason is that people know what to call us. So,
we may be a Matthew on our business card because it is company policy, but
everyone knows us as Matt. Having a name badge with ‘Matt’ showing gives people
permission to call us by the name we are most comfortable with. In a previous
career many people called me Glen and, at that time, only my mum called me
Glenys. My name badge showed Glen and for me it would have been strange to be
called Glenys at work, which is the name I had to use on my business card.
The final reason (and this might just be me) is that my name badge is part of my networking ‘uniform’: professional outfit, business cards and name badge. Ready to go.
So, what do you think? Are you a name badge wearer or not
and, whichever camp you stand in, why is that?
When meeting new members, I always talk to them about my
definition of having a robust networking strategy. The first part of this is to
actually have a strategy, otherwise how can you know whether what you are doing
is worth doing?
For me this kind of strategy includes three types of
Type 1: Cheap or free
These are held at various times of the day and may involve
you buying a drink, or paying a fee on the door, or may be free because of
sponsorship of the event
Type 2: Relatively expensive, to very expensive
The type that, if you were to do it every day, or every
week, would be an expensive marketing tool. This type is almost always a sit-down
meal, perhaps once a month or less frequently, and again may have an element of
Type 3: Membership
When I meet someone networking and they say “Oh, I don’t
join anything” what I hear is ‘hunter’, and by this, I mean someone who is
there only for themselves. Whereas true networking is about building
relationships and being part of a give and take environment. Obviously, I would
like it to always be that people are members of ebn,
but if someone tells me they are a member of another networking company I know
that they have made a commitment to a company rather than just going to see
what’s in it for them.
Why should there be this mix?
There needs to be a mix of networking types because if you
want to meet a wide range of people and companies, and they only go to one
type, then you are never going to meet some of them if you only stick to one
Whatever you do, review your networking as you would any
marketing. I think the review should be based on the question “Is it worth it?”
Some people talk about ROI and mean money. For me ROI can also mean learning
something that assists my business, meeting someone who becomes a supplier and
enables me to get on with my core business and building relationships who
support me and my business.
Recently I have
been a little irritated when having referred a supplier to a potential
customer, I’ve heard nothing about how it all went. So I decided that there are
some things I think should always be done when someone introduces you to one of
If someone gives you a referral or introduces
you to someone follow up the referral or introduction. Otherwise you undermine
the reputation of the person who refers you, and, of course, your own.
Say thank you to the person who gave you the
referral or made the introduction right away, don’t wait to find out whether
work will come from the referral or introduction. A referral does not guarantee
that work will happen, but it certainly increases the odds so acknowledge that
to the person who made the introduction.
If work does come from the referral or
introduction let the person who gave you the referral or made the introduction
know, (you don’t have to tell them how much you made).
Ask the person who gave you the referral or
introduction how you can help them.
None of it difficult or arduous, but it shows you appreciate someone
helping you, it makes sure that they feel valued and, who knows, it may mean
more work will come your way.