The Mentor Moment written by Steve Feher originally published on November 14th spoke of the winning mindset Lou Holtz developed at The University of Notre Dame. One big factor was a sign he revived that each player touched before every home game. The message was simple ‘Play Like A Champion Today”. This simple phrase was the catalyst to their 1988 National Championship and a resurgence of the winning culture at Notre Dame. (see https://www.twotwelvereferrals.com/network-like-a-champion/)
If you are like me, you consider your networking group part of your team. Each one of us are members for mostly the same reasons but, like a team, we each bring a different set of skills, talents and business goals. When your networking team is firing on all cylinders, achieving your own personal and professional goals becomes easier. I have comprised a list of some best practices that are consistent for the people that I think “Network Like A Champion.”
We all network for the purpose of personal or professional gain, but the best networkers focus on the individual relationships not the business benefit. These professionals often offer to help first and rarely ask for anything in return. In addition, these are typically the best listeners as well; they are masters at listening to understand – not to respond. Once a genuine relationship is established the master networker doesn’t have to ask for referrals, most people willingly share them.
Networking is an investment, it is critical to set make sure you are prepared for it. Make sure you set aside the time necessary to properly network; not just your meeting time, but also after-hours events and one on one meetings. None of these events or one on one’s are free, set the financial resources aside as part of your annual budget. We all know the ROI is there so just do it.
I have already published a blog on deliberate networking (https://www.twotwelvereferrals.com/deliberate-networking/) but here are a few more tips.
Networking is all about your connections, so know who your best connections are and spend most of your time with them. Also think back and rekindle an old contact that you once networked with, those contacts may still hold mutual value. Don’t be afraid to stoke those flames again.
If you are any good at sales, you know that the most powerful segment of any sales process is the needs analysis. We all have our favorite questions; networking really is no different. I believe there 3 questions that should be asked of any networking partner.
- How can I help you?
- What ideas do you have for me?
- Who else do you know that I should talk to?
The 5-Minute Favor
We all want to help but do we do it right away. I once met with a new referral partner (let’s call him Andy), and casually mentioned my frustration in getting an appointment with a specific decision maker. Andy told me he could help, he immediately picked up his phone and called that decision maker, within 2 minutes, I had an appointment. I truly didn’t know that Andy had a close professional relationship with this person, and Andy could have made a mental note and made the connection later; but he took immediate action and I am forever grateful. If it only takes five minutes, do the favor immediately. Favors work both ways help when asked and if you need help don’t be afraid to ask. One of my favorite phrases “if you don’t ask the answer is always no!”
I really won’t belabor this point, if you don’t understand the power of being grateful then networking isn’t for you. Gratuity should be the most cherished currency within your networking group.
The Daily Habit
The most successful people have daily habits, they do some of the same things every day and these are typically the key drivers to their success. Not only are the most successful great connectors, they keep in constant contact with their 5-10 key influencers. If you were laid off today who would you reach out to for advice? Talk to them now, you never know what they may have brewing. These champions also constantly assess. Are you happy with your current network and its influence? It’s a simple yes/no question and your answer should dictate your networking actions.
Finally have fun, if your networking isn’t fun, you’re not doing it right. Smile and enjoy the ride; no one wants to talk to the person that has a constant frown. One great way to make networking fun is to bring a friend! Invite a friend from a different industry, work the room together, and sing each other’s praises. Make it fun and make the most out of your time.
My pre-game speech has concluded – now it’s up to you to go execute on the game plan. So, get out there and: