One of the best ways to get known in any field is to start connecting people. As you become known as someone with many connections, people start coming to you when they have a need and trust that you’ll send them to the right person.
This means that when people come to you with a problem that you can solve you can cherry pick it. It also means that many people will attribute their successful projects to your connection! You’ll be the one person that so many people think of first with any endeavour.
Here is how you become a people connector.
1. Don’t sit with friends
When you go to a conference or networking event it’s always easy to find the people that you know and stand around talking to them. This is a problem because you’re not meeting anyone new to connect with anyone else.
Your first goal when you go to a business event is to sit with people that you don’t know so that you can get to know them.
2. Set a ‘new people’ goal
Once you’ve got over the discomfort of sitting with new people it’s time to start setting a goal for the new people you’re going to meet. Depending on the size of the event somewhere between 2 – 5 is a great place to start.
You need to make sure that you’re not just walking up to groups of people and handing out your business card like some automated machine. The goal is not to make sure a whole bunch of people know you, it’s to find ways to connect the people that you meet with other people you know.
3. Ask lots of questions
When you’re meeting these 2 – 5 people don’t just talk about yourself. In fact, only talk about what you do when they ask. You should spend your time asking them questions about their business so that by the time you’re done talking you know who their ideal client is well enough that you can send people to them.
Use questioning techniques like 5 Why’s, or 5 W’s. Make sure you ask open questions that don’t just take a yes/no answer. If you do this right then when the conversation ends the person you talked to will feel entirely different. They’re used to the run and gun approach where no one really digs in — and you’ll be one of the only people that doesn’t do it.
Remember, don’t just wait for your turn to speak. Ask lots of questions and get to know their business well.
4. Follow Up
Being a connector doesn’t end with a single event — you need to follow up. A great way to remember all the people you’ve met is to take their business card and write down what you talked about. I carry a set of Post-It notes in my pocket and write down some notes and stick it to their card while they watch me.
When you leave and before you drive home, look through the cards and make tasks for each one so you follow up the next business day. Most people never expect to hear from those they gave business cards to. If you can, try to connect them with someone you know right away. If not make sure you put them in your follow-up system so that you connect with them on a regular basis.
If you follow these 4 rules of being a great connector you’re going to become a memorable go to person and success will follow. The simple fact of taking notes about your discussion and actually following up after the event will stand you head and shoulders above 99% of the other people at any event.
Featured photo credit: demietrich via flickr.com