Recently, with a fellow mentor, we were in the middle of working with a delightful young business owner who demonstrated serious passion. A rarity for some. She was developing a business and was challenged with prospecting. She did not have a problem of engaging with people. It was more of trying to balance that with the use of social media and electronic mediums.
My co-mentor, who specializes in customer service consulting, summed it up nicely for her. He said that “ABC” stands for “Always Be Connecting”, a derivation on the common ad nausea sales term “Always Be Closing.” Correct, connecting not closing. The inference is that business owners and entrepreneurs should always be connecting. After all, we’re consummate salespeople for our own ventures.
In the networking world of connecting, I don't care what your goals, industry or interests are, there's no getting around it: personal relationships run the world. But why is it that some people seem to build instant rapport with most anyone they come across, while others are left with a network of one?
Over the past while, I've tried to determine exactly what sets people apart. Turns out, the results are simpler, and more powerful, than you'd think. Regardless of status, people are people. And the pillars of making a connection with another person are always the same no matter who they are. Let’s have a look at those personality pillars:
The only connections that work will be the ones that you truly care about; the world will see through anything short of that. If you don't have a genuine interest in the person with whom you're trying to connect, then stop trying.
"You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you." Dale Carnegie
Even the biggest and most powerful people in the world have something they'd like help with. Too many people never reach out to those above them due to the fear that they wouldn't be able to offer anything in return. But you have more to offer than you realize: write an article or blog post about them, share their business with your community, offer to spread their message through a video interview with them. Give real thought to who you could connect them with to benefit their goals. If it turns out you can't be that helpful, the gesture alone will stand out.
It's nearly impossible to genuinely offer help if you don't pay attention. I mean real attention, not just to what business they started or what sport they like! Do your research by reading blog posts, books, and articles about the connection beforehand. Learn about their backgrounds and passions. Invest genuine time in learning what really matters to them and how you can help.
“What tribes are, is a very simple concept that goes back 50 million years. It's about leading and connecting people and ideas. And it's something that people have wanted forever.” Seth Godin
Connect with close people
Most prospecting opportunities are from networking and referrals, and making connections is no different. You automatically arrive with credibility when referred to someone you want to meet by a mutual friend. For example, I recently wanted to meet a certain business prospect, and it turned out we had the same dentist. That fact means nothing, but in the world of social dynamics, it's gold. Spend more time connecting with your current network of friends and colleagues and see where it leads.
Persistence wins battles
If you can't get a direct referral, simply click send on that email or leave a message after the beep. But do not stop there, as most the world tends to. The first attempt is just the very beginning. Realize that the first try may get you nowhere, but the third or fifth tries are the ones that start to yield results. An unreturned email or voicemail doesn't mean they don't want to connect with you. It's your job to be persistent! I like to call it being patiently persistent. I sometimes get dozens of requests in a day from readers who want to connect, but only a few ever follow up. Don't be in a hurry, but don't be invisible either.
“Think about what people are doing on Facebook today. They're keeping up with their friends and family, but they're also building an image and identity for themselves, which in a sense is their brand. They're connecting with the audience that they want to connect to. It's almost a disadvantage if you're not on it now.” Mark Zuckerberg
Make real friends
Think about how you've made the friends you have. That's all this is. You only make friends with people you genuinely want in your life. The same rule should go for prospects or bigger name connections. Don't over-think it. Be human, be helpful and most humans will happily be human in return, regardless of who they are.
All the above are simple, yet sadly underused, ways of standing out. Send birthday cards. Mail your favourite book with a signed personal note from you on the inside flap. Send them a Christmas card. Be genuinely helpful. You'd be surprised how the simplest things never get done. Being memorable isn't as hard as some think!
It all comes back to helping others. If you spent 100 percent of your time thinking about how you can help absolutely everyone you meet - from the woman who makes your latte, to the only sought after prospective client, to the top authority in your industry - you will find everything else tends to take care of itself. The world will suddenly be in your corner and you’re on your way to Keeping Life Current.
Steve is the SBCN Community Mentor and can be reached at steve@NorthernRiverFinancial.ca