Over the holiday weekend, I received a bunch of invitations to connect. Everything from financial planners to network salespeople and just yesterday morning the CEO of a cotton yarn factory in the U.K. What? Just looking at the profiles you can get a feel for "why" they want to connect with you, and sadly, often, it's not about you. With hope, you look at the profile, you see the similarities and common connections, so you accept. Then with almost automated precision, you get a message explaining all about the other person, what they do and what their company does. It's totally focused on them. There's no warmup and no soft intro – just right to the heavy sales message. Disappointing.
Source: Jeff Schmidt, SVP of Professional Development
One of the greatest benefits of our RAB live training events like our Sales Essentials one-day class and our Leadership MasterClass is the ability to connect with like-minded people in other markets who have a shared experience. The organic networking that emerges from these events is based on a common desire to help each other. This is how all networking should be. Our next Sales Essentials class is this coming Tuesday, you can register on rab.com.
If you search online for "networking tips," there are plenty of resources. We'd like to share a few things to keep in mind as you build your professional network. Paying attention to these tips will help you avoid being "that person" who connects and launches into a pitch.
Give before you take – Instead of launching into a pitch, search your new contacts page and look for areas of interest. Similar to prospecting, find an article or a resource you think might be helpful and send that to them as your introduction.
Don't just collect connections – Your goal is not the quantity of your connections, but the quality. Look for connections you can help and connections that can help you. Target your connections based on a common purpose, common interests and align yourself with those you might be able to help.
Be genuinely interested – Faking interest here is easily detected. Be genuine, be real and be interested and interesting.
Follow-up – Making the initial connection is great, but unless you're just after quantity, consistent follow-up and sharing resources, asking thoughtful questions and engaging your new connections are key.
Watching the networking that happens during our RAB live events, the greatest joy is to see people help each other through shared difficulty and celebrate shared success. We are wired for connection and interaction, even more so now. We crave the ability to connect, collaborate and share.
At RAB, we teach having a Valid Business Reason (VBR) when making contact with prospects. The same rules apply as you work to expand your network on social media and business networking sites. By giving before you take and showing genuine interest in the other person, you will avoid being "that person" and you will enjoy making new connections and others will enjoy connecting with you. Do you have some networking annoyances or tips that you'd like to share? We'd love to hear them. Email at Jeff.Schmidt@rab.com.
Jeff Schmidt is SVP-Professional Development at the Radio Advertising Bureau. You can reach Jeff at jeff.Schmidt@Rab.com or follow him on social media: Twitter, LinkedIn.