At Be Brilliant! Marketing we are always looking for ways to Be Brilliant! Recently, our very own creative director and networking guru, Bryon McCartney, gave a presentation on networking tips, techniques and technologies that help make networking easier, more efficient and Brilliant! Here's what he shared...
Networking can serve many purposes. When Kellie and I settled in Southwest Florida after living in Switzerland for nearly 12 years, we only knew close family and a few family friends in the area. Networking played a big role in helping us build our social and working relationships. We are fortunate to have made many new business contacts, but more importantly, we have also made many new friends as a result of networking in our community.
This is a point that is often overlooked when people speak about networking. They under-play or omit altogether that one of the greatest values (or returns on investment) of networking is creating new friendships. Networking, by its very nature, is about creating new relationships, and, for us, the best connections are always personal.
More than a card exchange
Unfortunately, many people look at networking as a chore, something they have to do for business. Others take the attitude that, because they attend a networking event, they should have have dozens of leads as a result.
It really doesn't work that way.
Like any other business activity, you have to approach it realistically and pragmatically, and make a long-term commitment. Over-burdening your networking expectations by having unreasonable or unreachable goals is a sure-fire way to become frustrated and, ultimately, give up entirely, or, possibly much worse, find yourself in a situation where you dread it so much, you networking miserable for other in the process.
For us, a big part of networking is taking the right approach to it. Another big part is setting yourself up for success. The networking event is only a small part of the process. It's equally important to follow-up with people so you can continue to build your new relationship. There is nothing worse than going to an event and meeting someone new and feeling like you made a connection or really had a spark and then never hearing from that person again.
Follow-up and follow-through are the most important aspects of networking, yet so many people are really bad at it. So, how do you fix it?
Technology to the Rescue
At Be Brilliant!, we have found some helpful tools for exactly this purpose. Using Evernote, and IFTTT, you can automate some of the routine tasks you need to do to enter contact details, create follow-ups and so on. In fact, you can reduce this to one simple step.
Using these techniques, you can simplify your networking. But Emily, from the Shy Wolf Sanctuary, posed a great question during my presentation. She asked, "Isn't this type of automation somewhat impersonal and insincere?" Her question brings up some very valid concerns. If we are automating these processes, then are we really building relationships?
The best answer I can come up with is that it still falls on you to ensure that you are making it personal. These techniques and technologies are just tools, and you have to find the way to personalize your exchanges. Typically, I do that with a personal email or call. I use Evernote and Linkedin to send initial messages along with my contact details. It's just a quick acknowledgement and reminder that we've met. But then I follow-through more personally, typically by inviting that person for a 1-on-1 meeting. Don't let the automated response be the only contact that person receives, get personal: Call them, email them, make an appointment and get to know them.
If you want to learn more about using Evernote and Linkedin, check out our video on our Networking page.
See you at a networking event!
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