Tuesday, July 22, 2008


This morning, discussing business over coffee with a friend of mine, we got into a discussion of networking groups, and how difficult it was to make that initial connection with people sometimes, especially if (like my friend) you're a bit shy. 

Recently, I had my own experience with something similar to this - as the zen kitchen grows, I've found myself having to break into - gasp! - cold calling. And it was scary at first, until I took a moment to ask myself: "what's the goal here?" 

In my mind, part of the reason networking events (or cold calls, for that matter) can be difficult for some folks is because it's hard to tell what the point is. What are you looking for? What do you expect to happen? What would you LIKE to happen? And often, I've found that just articulating that one thing before you get to an event, or before you call a prospect, can make all the difference between leaving the situation feeling like you've gotten something done and leaving feeling like you've just wasted your time.

For example, in my recent cold calling efforts, I decided that my goal was just to introduce myself, and learn more about the organization I was calling, what kind of materials they outsource, etc. If I could send them more information, or add them to my newsletter, even better - but the primary goal was just to get a conversation going. And knowing what that goal was (and leaving it pretty easy to manage) made it inconceivably easier to do calls, to the point where I actually started enjoying them. Plus, the relaxed attitude I had towards the call actually made the calls more productive, since the person on the other line felt more like they were having a conversation and less like they were being sold something.

I take a similar approach to networking events - after figuring out who I want to meet and finding a meeting where I'm likely to meet those kind of people, I spend a couple of minutes before the meeting setting a goal for the event. Some nights I want to meet 5 people who'd be good to follow up with; other events I want to find 3 people I can give helpful information to. It helps me get a meeting off to the right foot, and it helps me get back on track if, on the odd occasion, I start feeling a bit shyer than usual.

What are your best strategies/goals for networking?


Reconstructing Ideas said...

Great advice! I know I have to start making calls and I have been dreading it. But that seems like you are just chatting with people without pressuring them.

Dani Nordin said...

@reconstructing ideas:

It is a bit of a dread-worthy thing, making the cold calls. But yeah, I've definitely found that calling to "just chat" works a lot better - I've never been a fan of the hard sell technique, and this way of looking at it is doing well for me.

Which reminds me - need to get started on my calls soon!