Thursday, July 4, 2013

Why Being a Connector Makes Your Networking More Effective

One of the keys to good networking is to help the people in your network. Often this help is some specialist knowledge or the answer to a question, but another very powerful technique is to help people by connecting them to someone you know who could help them. Maybe one day you meet me and you learn that I am interested in more speaking opportunities. Next week you meet someone who is looking for a speaker just like me so you connect us. We both benefit because we get something we are looking for; you benefit by having two more people who are grateful to you for the introduction.

This approach is especially useful for helping people who know more about your own field than you do. Even if they are at the top of their specialty you can still help them by introducing them to someone else that they don't know. But connecting other people in your network is also very important for three other reasons:

ENHANCES YOUR REPUTATION. When you are a top technical expert you can build a reputation almost entirely on your superior knowledge. People seek your advice and are grateful when you share it. But you can also build a strong reputation simply by bringing two people together who will benefit from the introduction. Both then will have the impression that you are a useful member of their network, that you are a valued connection and that you have their interests at heart. A reputation for knowing useful people is just as strong as a reputation for knowing useful things.

HELPS BREAK ICE AT MEETINGS. Connecting other people with mutual interests also gives you something else to talk about at meetings and in other forums. When you learn that a person you know is looking for something and you know someone who might help this makes conversation easier. You can take the opportunity to ask if they already know that person and then either introduce them immediately or make a note to introduce them later. It also gives you a chance to move away and look for new people to talk to. Once you have introduced two people it can be easier to say goodbye and leave them to talk than when you are stuck with a person and don't have a good escape plan.

TEACHES YOU TO PAY ATTENTION. But to connect two people who might benefit from knowing each other you have to remember what they do and what they might be looking for. This has the interesting and hugely important effect of forcing you to pay more attention to what people say. One of the most common mistakes in networking is to focus too much on what you want to say about yourself and not listen carefully enough to what other people say. After meeting someone ask yourself if you know what they do and what they are looking for. If you don't remember then make a note to do it better next time.

The role of connector is not easy at first, but it is an extremely powerful networking tool and one that is worth developing. Once you have developed this habit you will find it much easier to remember what people do and cultivate effective skills for meeting people face to face.

More about professional networking

There's much more about professional networking in the second edition of my book Payforward Networking, available in Paperback and Kindle editions from Amazon here.


Lectures, Workshops, Coaching, Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching or writing on this and other communication topics visit http://andrewhennigan.com, email speaker@andrewhennigan.com or call  0046 730 894 475.

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