Are You Prepared to Network?

I met a remarkable person today.  We were introduced by a mutual friend who said that we would really connect with one another; he was right.  Our early morning breakfast meeting scheduled for one hour turned into a two-hour-this-is-not-going-to-be-enough-time-to-talk-about-all-we-have-to-talk-about sort of discussion.  The time seriously flew by.  We covered many, many topics, but the one that I must share with you made me push pause on the discussion and say, “Wow, what a great topic for a blog.”

She was telling me about another person she recently met in a networking capacity.  Her description of the individual was that he is very bright, has tons of experience, is extremely interesting, BUT “he was not prepared for a networking discussion.”  Apparently, during the course of their conversation, she casually asked how he knew their mutual contact.  Instead of giving her an answer (she is still awaiting the response), what she received was a lengthy oration of the guy’s resume!  I suppose if she had asked him for a brief history of himself, he would have been well prepared to share, but that is not at all what he was asked.

And, so, with that, I encourage you to ensure that you are prepared to network.  Here are a few tips:

  1. Have at least one thing in mind that you would like to discuss with your new contact.  You should do your homework – learn a little something about them and/or their company in advance so that you have a launch point for the conversation.
  2. Go in ready to add value.  Maybe you can connect your new contact with someone else who could be helpful to them or information that could help position them for success… a business opportunity, a handyman, a new restaurant, etc.
  3. Ask great questions.  Be a great listener.  I was reminded tonight that we each have one mouth and two ears for a reason!  Ask great questions… be a great listener.
  4. Know your story.  No need for the litany of resume items when someone asks you about yourself.  Rather, have your 30-second commercial down pat.  Provide enough information to your new contact to be interesting.  You will know whether you have succeeded if they are interested in learning more.

I still believe that no meeting is a bad meeting, but prepare yourself to be a great networker so that you can make the most out of every interaction.  My hope for you is that you leave every networking encounter as charged up and energized as I was today having met a wonderful person with whom I am certain to build a long-term friendship.

2 thoughts to “Are You Prepared to Network?”

  1. Simple advice, appears intuitive, but alas some come up short on this topic. Thanks, as always, for another thoughtful topic,

  2. Thanks for the reminders! It’s amazing how we might connect with someone on a more personal level / beyond your professional research when we listen – we have a first grader too; we both worked in the same building 5 years ago; or we were on that same Disney cruise ship (true story).

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