Introduction from Alana:
Recently, two friends introduced me to the super-high energy, DJ Waldow. Several emails, two Skype calls and one podcast later, I’m lovin’ this former KC-guy who now lives in Emerald Hills, California – I have no idea where that is, but it is close enough to the Emerald City that I liked him from the start! In fact, during our meeting, he graciously sported his KC Royals baseball cap in my honor despite living in the San Francisco Bay area – what a mensch!
Suffice it to say that his approach to Connecting with people is closely aligned with the CLC Platform and I’m digging learning from him. In fact, I asked him to share his not-so-secret formula for making connections – it’s great, highly useful information that can benefit anyone serious about building strong relationships with others.
For now, take note of DJ Waldow’s Secret Formula for Making Connections (Note: These ideas were modified from DJ’s email newsletter (you can subscribe here!), The Social Butterfly Guy in The Waldow Weekly WhazzupDATE, on September 24, 2014)…
My secret formula to making more connections is: Homework + Approach + Listen + Converse … and repeat (+ a bonus).
It’s not that polished of a formula … yet. Let’s just call it a work in progress. No cutesy acronym or anything, but it works – for me. So I’m sharing it – with you!
Here’s the breakdown:
Homework. Do your research before approaching someone. Learn a bit more about who they are, what is important to them. This is a crucial first step to connecting with other people, and unfortunately, one that gets missed often. Google exists for a reason. Use it. Search their name. Find their blog, their Twitter account, LinkedIn, Google+, whatever. See if they’ve recently published a book or spoken at an event. I’m not talking about spending hours researching someone before you approach them, but at least do a bit of homework. In some cases, it can be as “easy” as a quick glance at their last few blog posts or tweets from the past few days. Other times, it’s as “hard” as reading their book. Either way, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Be ready with your “in.”
Approach. Going up to someone can be hard. I get that. I’m an extrovert. I love people. I have no (or little) fear. It’s easy for me to approach someone. But I get that it’s not easy for everyone. However, it’s necessary. Kinda tough to build connections with other people without having a conversation! So… Walk up confidently. Be direct. Stick your hand out. Shake firmly as you say, “Hi [their first name]. My name is [your first and last name]. I really enjoyed [a tidbit about them/their work from the homework you did]. What did you think about [ask a question that touches on their expertise/area of interest]?”
Listen. The next step is to SHUT YOUR MOUTH. This one – I’ll be honest – is tough for me. Ha! We all know how important it is to listen. A critical part of engaging in a conversation with another human being is being able to listen. And I really mean listen. Not nodding your head and smiling while chomping at the bit to spit back your words. I mean … active listening. Internalize what they are saying. Think about their words, their story. You just asked your question. Close your mouth and listen!
Converse. Now that the proverbial ice has been broken, it’s time to just have a regular conversation. Remember: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. Continue to ask questions about them. Think of this as the first date. Learn as much as you can about them. Build upon previous question/answers. Ask more questions about their area of interest, their passion, their expertise. Again, I realize this can be tough. It takes practice!
Repeat. Don’t stop with just one person. Work the room. Be efficient. However, don’t move on too quickly to the next person. Don’t look over the shoulder of the person you are chatting with looking for your next connection. Take your time. Be patient. But be efficient. When the time is appropriate (gut feeling), excuse yourself from the conversation and move on.
Bonus. If presented an opportunity to get your voice and face in front of a crowd, jump all over it. That’s exactly what I do when I’m in the audience and the moderator or speaker says, “Let’s ask a few people in the audience about their thoughts.” I raise my hand, without hesitation. To be honest, I usually have no idea what I’m going to say, but I’m OK winging it. Typically, what I say is less important than the fact I say something – including my name, of course. And people notice. People always approach me afterward and say, “Oh, you were that guy who stood up earlier, right?”
If this formula for Networking success was useful to you, please visit my site, Coach-DJ.com, to learn more about Coach DJ!