During the month of December we attend both business and personal holiday gatherings, but it’s the weekend before Christmas to the weekend after New Years that we tend to focus more on the personal holiday gatherings. This is where unintentional connecting, or as I like to call it, “Unintentional Networking” happens. Why is it “Unintentional Networking” ? Because this is the time that we often don’t look at what we are doing as networking, rather just enjoying the holidays with friends and family, but in actuality these are the closest connections we have, and if paid attention to and approached properly, they can become some of your most valued business connections. Here are 8 suggestions on how to make this time of “Unintentional Networking” work for you.
- Always Be Prepared, Carry Business Cards. I know this sounds very elementary, but I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gone to personal functions and have asked for someone’s business card and they did not have one to give. You don’t have to carry a stack, remember this is not a networking event, always have 5-10 cards on hand .
- Enjoy Your Time, Without Business in Mind. Hence the term “Unintentional Networking”. Remember you are not there for business, but keep in mind, these are probably people that you do not regularly see and are genuinely interested in what you are doing, as you should be the same with them. Simply catch up and enjoy each other’s company. Ehen the opportunity arises, you will know.
- Talk About Them, Ask Questions and Pay Close Attentions. The one thing I’ve learned over my 30 plus years of networking, people’s favorite subject is themselves. All you need to do is ask the questions, let them talk, and most important, pay close attention. People love to talk about their kids and plenty of times there is an opportunity for you to help, so ask about their children and grandchildren. Ask about their home and if they are still living the same place, ask about their careers. You can be the catalyst to get them into full story mode, then just sit back, enjoy the conversation and listen. The one thing that shows right away and is very obvious, is when you are talking to someone and as you are speaking they are either looking over your shoulder or around the room, or trying to formulate what they are about to say as you are speaking. Both of these action have a distinct tell of non-interest and usually felt with disrespect. Do not fall in that category, by listening attentively you will know where and if you will be able to connect professionally with them.
- Never Talk Business at a Non-Business Event. Always remember where you are and you will never overstep your bounds. At a family or friend’s gathering you are with family and friends, not business associates, that’s why you don’t talk business. If they do, don’t correct them, let them speak, but when they ask you about business, simply answer very briefly and follow it up with something like, “Hey, I don’t want to bore you with business talk here at a party, let’s get together right after the holidays and see what we can do.” This keeps it social and they will know you are respecting there time as well.
- Tying Down A Time To Connect. This literally takes about 1 minute. This is where you ask “What’s the best way to get in touch with you?”, take out your phone and take their number and email address Then ask 3 simple questions: “What’s the best time to call you, is Monday or Wednesday better? What’s better, Morning Afternoon or Evening? Great is 7:15 good or 8:30 better? Then give them your card and just say, “All my info is right here.” The above days and times of course can be changed to whatever you decide. The reason for breaking it down that way is because when you ask someone when to call, they typically don’t know what to say, by giving them choices, you breakdown the barriers of confusion and they tend to remember you are calling them because they picked their own time to speak to you.
- After the Conversation, Scheduling. After you finish your conversation be sure to take out your phone again and put them in your calendar. I like to use Google calendar for this. Add them to your schedule and be sure to add them as a participant so your system will send them an email with your scheduled appointment and also send them a reminder. Remember this is a social function, so they will need to be reminded of your call.
- Connect Through Social Media. You would be surprised to find that the people that are close to you, really don’t know exactly what you do. Connecting with them on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and other sites will prompt them to get to know you more after the event. Remember, you had them speak more about themselves while you were at the event. After the event they’ve realized that they don’t know you as much as you know them, you’ve created curiosity and now they want to know you.
- Make the Connection On Time. This is where most people fail, Be sure to call them or meet with them at exactly the time you have scheduled them. Understand that you have created curiosity and they are most likely looking forward to your call or meeting. at this point they have probably read your social media profile and they may have came up with a way to work with you. This is really your 1st impression to them, don’t mess it up.
Whether during the holiday season or any time of the year when at a social function. These 8 steps will help you build your network with people you already know and already know and trust you. These are the most valued connections you can ever have.
In the Philadelphia area? I invite you to The Ultimate Networking Group’s 175th Event Since 2009, the 2015 Season Opener of The Ultimate Networking Event Live at Union Trust Finley Catering, Philadelphia, Pa. Tuesday January 6th 2013, 6pm. Don’t Miss The Event People Will Be Talking About Throughout 2015. $7 Parking at Central Parking Just Around the Corner. Register Now at http://ultimatenetworkingevent.eventbrite.com
Looking forward to seeing you there.
Thomas Camarda is a professional networker and speaks at networking events and seminars nationally. Thomas offers Networking training, both one-on-one or for your Networking Group.
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