Shortly after starting my business in 2008, a friend of mine introduced me to Mike Sansone, who’s business, ConverStations, helped consultants and other small businesses develop and execute their social media strategy. I learned a lot from working with Mike, but the biggest take away was a very simple rule for networking: 70 20 10.
When Mike taught me this formula, we were specifically talking about how to best utilize social media to develop and create awareness around my brand, but this formula is a great guide for face-to-face networking and nurturing productive relationships in general.
When building relationships face to face or via social media you want people to see you a trusted resource. So, make sure 70% of your interactions or their exposure to you is you being just that – a resource. You know that guy at the chamber event or that gal on your Facebook page that only talks about themselves and what they do for a living? Don’t be like them. I have a Facebook contact who I know is trying to make the world a better place, but the only thing I see him post about is the BMW he drives and telling everyone how great his business is. Be a resource.
The only way you can truly be a resource to the people around you is to understand what they are about. What do they like? What don’t they like? What are they interested in? What are they passionate about? What motivates them? When you begin to understand these things, make an effort to give them what they value. The more you do this, the more they will see you as a resource. The more they see you as a resource, the more they will trust you. I don’t care if it’s a business or personal relationship: if there is no trust, there is no relationship.
When people see you as a resource and trustworthy, their walls come down and they are more interested in you. 20% of the time, allow people to get to know you better. While making an effort to relate to them, talk about the things in the world you find value in, engage people in conversation about things you’re passionate about, talk about your kids, or the football game, or the movie you saw. Forget about business and have fun getting to know each other. People work with others whom they trust and like. Let them get to know the real you.
When people trust and like you, they are more willing to take time to learn about and support your purpose, mission, and/or business. If you have shown you care about them and have invested time and energy in them, they will be more willing share their resources with you, be it their energy, time, or money. Talk about you and whatever it is you are trying to accomplish only 10% of the time.
No doubt about it: the only way you are going to be successful is if people know what you do. So, tell them. Just don’t make your sales pitch your identity. If you only talk about yourself and what you do, you are going to be known as the guy or gal who only talks about themselves and what they do. If you only talk to people when you need something from them, they will start to avoid you. If you only call them to talk about your business, they will screen your calls. You smell what I’m cooking?
70 20 10
I try to utilize this formula in all my relationships and it has yet to lead me down the wrong path.
Be a resource and build trust. Get to know each other and create connection. Do both effectively and your business efforts will be more efficient and your conversations will be more meaningful.
The purpose of professional networking is to gain information, increase your visibility in your field, and establish personal connections that will help you advance in your career. 5 Keys to Building Networks Over TimeFeatured photo credit: conceptual illustration for social networking in internetvia Shutterstock