Business Cards or Bonfire Material?
Guest post by Zach Taylor
You should know what business networking is and what it isn’t.
Per the Meriam-Webster Dictionary, networking is defined as the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business. Conversely –
Networking is NOT about how many business cards I collect and input into my CRM so I can spam people with my email campaign.
I will admit in my very first job out of school, I did this. I thought the more business cards I collected and gave out the better I was doing my job. Little did I know that all of those business cards I collected may as well have been tinder for my bonfires.
I want to focus on the last part of the definition, the cultivation of productive relationships. Wow, what a novel idea! Build a relationship with someone and have that relationship produce an outcome. Whether that be a referral itself or a connection to a strategic partner, the relationship will grow over time.
For those who are collecting tinder, don’t worry, you can be saved. I will teach you how to be a great networker. In my experience, I’ve found that every great networker poses three strategic questions:
- What do you do?
- Who do you target?
- Who are you looking to meet?
Why are these questions important when networking? They help you, as the networker, determine what you can offer in return. Yes, networking should be about what you can do for the people you meet. As an example, if you were to ask me these questions, here’s how I would answer:
Me: Hi my name is Zach Taylor, I am the event chair for Rainmakers Young Professionals. I’m targeting driven young professionals that are rockstars in their industries. Right now I’m targeting some great realtors as well as business development professionals in the tech space.
From my answers, you know what I do, who I target, and who I’m looking to meet.
You (being the great networker that you are): I know just the realtor to introduce you to. He/she is killing it for their team and they are really well connected.
BOOM! You just became a great networker in under a minute. Keith Ferrazzi, an expert in professional relationship development, is quoted as saying “The currency of real networking is not greed, but generosity.” Think of that next time you walk into a networking event. Think how you can make this a productive night for those that you meet. I promise you, this will work in your favor.
On a practical note, while you may not be able to start as many business card bonfires networking this way, there’s always lighter fluid.
Until next time,
Zach of all trades…. Always willing to talk golf, interested in helping people be successful. Follow me on Twitter for random rants @TaylorZacharyA or connect with me on LinkedIn and tell me who you want to meet.