How To Network w/out . . .
Without Being Annoying – 10 Rules
from Forbes.com Zine 03 Oct 15 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz
Early in our Career, we are advised to network, network, network. However, at some point in our career, we transition from primarily asking others of favors (ie, counsel, advice, connections) to being the person asked for favors. This is a benefit and responsibility that comes with having a degree of success.
The Spectrum of Networking. As a former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer)-turned professor, I am now being connected with more young people. I’ve found, however, that there is a wide variance in the effectiveness with which people attempt to network. On one end of the spectrum is the individual who is respectful of your time, is organized and prepared for the conversation + who follows up on advice given. On the other end of the spectrum is the person who keeps coming back for more & more time, is disorganized & unprepared for conversations, and who drops the ball only to reappear later with another request.
10 Networking Rules for How to Effectively Engage with a Potential Connection. Given the importance of learning how to network effectively, I thought I’d offer 10 suggestions for how to do so without aggravating the individual with whom you are asking a favor.
1. Be aware of the Gift you are Receiving: For many successful people, their time can be worth well over $1000 per hour. So, if you are seeking a 30 minute conversation, that is essentially worth hundreds of dollars of the potential connection’s time that they could have spent consulting, working, or with their family. Understand that this is a precious gift they are providing and treat it as such.
2. Don’t wear out your Welcome: When I coach students on networking do’s & don’ts, I typically suggest to ask and plan for no more than a 30 minute conversation and to expect only one inter-action. You only get one bite at the apple and so it is your responsibility to make the most of a single, 30 minute conversation. In some cases, the advice-giver will offer ongoing help, but that is their prerogative to give and shouldn’t be expected.
3. Do your Homework: Have you looked up the individual on LinkedIn? And Googled them? Who is in their network? What specific advice could this individual best provide? Doing your homework not only helps ensure you get the most out of the interaction, but also helps you position the interaction in a way such that the advice-giver feels they can effectively help you. Nobody wants to waste their time.
4. Have an Agenda: What specifically, do you want from the connection? In other words, what is the objective of the conversation? What do you hope to accomplish? And what are the 3-6 questions that you plan to ask during the conversation to help you accomplish your goals? By having an agenda & plan, you have a better chance of maximizing value out of the 30 minute conversation (while also sending a signal to the connection that you are “on-the-ball”). While you’ll want to be flexible based on how the conversation evolves, it is best to have a plan because it is your job to lead the conversation.
5. Focus on additional Connections. “Every networking interaction should be focused on identifying additional connections”. By making the expansion of your network a key goal in every interaction, you will grow your network and not need to go back for more bites at the same apple from prior connections. [Unless it was Steve Jobs] LoL
6. Never ask for a Job. You don’t want to make a conversation onerous or uncomfortable. Instead, ask if they know anybody in the industry who might be looking for somebody with your qualifications. I once had a student from my alma mater ask to connect live. She wanted advice on how to go about searching for interesting internship opportunities. She was so organized and smart in the questions she asked, that I offered her a summer internship on the spot. What more could you ask for?
7. Follow-through, immediately on any advice provided. I’ve had a few occasions where I tried to connect individuals only to have the individual I’m helping – drop the ball. If you ask for help—and get it—make sure to follow-through and try it.
8. Follow-up & close the Loop, Let them know the results of you actions. That way they know their advice was of value and they feel good about it.
9. Demonstrate gratitude: This relates back to point #1. If the gift you are receiving is worth hundreds of dollars of somebody’s time and the advice is arguably invaluable, how can you best demonstrate your gratitude? Some people act as if they are entitled to this gift without demonstrating – an understanding of the cost incurred by the giver. They take the individual’s time and don’t follow-up with even a thank-you. Always follow-up with a personal thank-you. Always. More if you can think of something appropriate.
10. Respecting their Time. When I interview CMOs for Forbes articles or research, I start every conversation with: “I know your time is extremely valuable and so I want to be as respectful as possible. I’ll get right to the point. Are you comfortable with that?” Almost without fail, the CMO has said thank-you for not wasting their time. As a former CMO, many networking-related conversations tended to start with 10+ minutes of jibber-jabber. While I understand this, most executives tend to be ok with pointed, efficient, & productive conversations that hold small-talk to a minimum. Having said that, I always follow the lead of the person doing me a favor. If they want to chit-chat, I’m fine doing that. If they don’t, I’m fine with that as well. Regardless, I start by demonstrating a respect for the value of their time.
Comments: Anything you can add, from your Networking experiences?