We both know that you're not going to do my dishes and admin for a week, Francesca, but I am more than happy to sell you one last ticket", said Jess on the phone.
I had sent her an email earlier to express how disappointed I was discovering that the talk I wanted to go to was sold out.
I do it all the time: I see an interesting event coming up and instead of booking my ticket right away, I tell myself that I'll do it at end of the week.
Why at the end of the week?
I mean, at the end of the week I do not have any more money than I did at the beginning, let alone will I remember that I wanted to look up this event. Putting a reminder into my calendar takes about as long as processing a payment, so why do I keep sabotaging myself?
However, if missing out on awesome events due to being slow (or slack) sounds a bit like you, I have great news: There is almost always one last ticket! How you will get that one? By sending a personal message. Find out the email address of the ticket office and tell them your little story. This works for extra tickets, band T-Shirts and autographs (ok, my kids wanting to meet First Aid Kit did not work but hey).
The same formula goes for networking: In our era of endless emails and automated responses, getting a personal and maybe a little fun message is rare.
We set up our profiles with the information pulled out of Facebook, we subscribe to email lists and newsletters with our email address as the account name (oh hi Poppyandtrev72!), we sent out predefined connect requests and automated birthday wishes.
Let’s face it, our inherent laziness and the need for speed have turned our world into a rather shallow and un-personal place.
If someone grabs my interest and I would like to meet them in person, say through LinkedIn, I know that I must stand out of the crowd and will go the appreciated extra mile.
Some days I get 20 requests on LinkedIn and while I accept most of them, I am most intrigued by people sending me a personalized message. What stands out most for me is something like "You used to teach children in horse-riding, tell me more about this" or even just a "I really like your photo, who took it?" or "Your bio sounds awesome, did you get it done professionally?"
It shows me that people took the time to read through my profile and are interested in a bit of my story. And vice versa. Sometimes I see people I MUST meet and to get their attention I will have to show them that I am genuinely interested.
When it comes to networking wether that is on LinkedIn or at an event, think of it as sitting on a crowded train in the morning. All passengers have the same aim: They need to get to work. With networking, if you think about it, it’s the same: We all want more business, exposure, and referrals, cash in our pockets. It is a place where people with very similar intentions meet and hope to make a lasting impression. As it is not socially accepted to go out and make contacts solely for the reason of becoming rich, we need to change our game a little.
But how do I stand out from the grey mass and how do I get the ticket or the connection I want? The strategy is actually quite simple:
1. Be interested.
3. Ask questions.
4. Find out what they have to offer.
5. Find common ground and differences.
Follow those steps and tell me how that made a difference in your networking game. I’d like to hear your stories.
Be the person on the train who makes eye contact.