A few years ago, my son was tasked with interviewing someone who has a “growth mindset” for a school project. He chose me, and we discussed succeeding after failure. More specifically, he learned about how I failed to recognize the power of my network, and who taught me how to put my network to use. Certain parts of networking have always come easily to me, and other parts I had to learn the hard way.
After my interview, he grabbed his pencil and a piece of paper and asked me for “tips for life” regarding networking, so I discussed the best ways to stand out. I told him how I scored interviews with companies and for positions that I was under-qualified for. I explained how I used connection skills to gain opportunities, mentors, and skills that would help me build my own business.
So how did I simplify this process to explain it to a 10-year-old?
ResearchI explained to him that one thing I did if I had a meeting, an interview, or was meeting someone new was to RESEARCH them. I would type their name into Google and look at their LinkedIn profile. I would find something interesting that they worked on, a cause they supported, or something else that would help break the ice a bit.
AskI told him to make sure to focus the conversation on the other person. Ask questions, make mental notes, and later, when you could, write down what you remembered about the person. For the past 13 years, I have written notes about people and kept them in a file so that I can “remember” important details about each person I meet.
ConnectMeeting someone is one thing, connecting with that person is another. My goal with every interaction is to find a way to truly connect with someone. I explained that finding common ground is crucial, and a lot easier than you would think. Connecting with someone is deeper than just talking, and will make you memorable.
Follow-UpI explained that without follow-up, the researching, asking, and connecting were pointless. Follow-up shows the other person that the conversation was meaningful and that they matter. Years ago, I made it a point to follow up with everyone by a handwritten note. In recent years, I used email; however, more and more I understand the importance of a personal touch, so I showed him my note card stash and networking goals and made it a personal goal to liquidate my note cards by year end.
These days, it is so easy to get caught up in the quickly-revolving door of speed-networking, but doing a little research, asking the right questions, connecting with people on a deeper level, and following up will get better results. You’ll find that you no longer have to face the business world alone — with your strong network, you can get the job you want, find the clients you want, and gain the opportunities you want, only a lot easier. People truly want to help one another, but first, you have to have a meaningful connection.