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Flock Together and Fly in Formation

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“Every person, all the events of your life are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you.” ~~Richard Bach

This week we consider that quality known as magnetism. I won’t go into all the scientific details of electrons lining up and how the compass guides us along our journey although those concepts are important.

I will, however, underscore how important magnetism is the process of establishing the Visibility that is foundational in your networking success. Like attracts like. Busy people attract other busy people. I imagine you can realize how challenging it is to get a bunch of busy people together at once. I also imagine you can realize how valuable that shared time is.

The best way to attract the type of people you want to meet is by becoming one yourself. Look back into week seven Take Inventory and consider those traits you most want to improve on. A simple shortcut is to get around those people and benefit from modeling their behavior.

Scott Ginsberg is known as the Nametag Guy and he lists eight simple strategies you can use to start the ball rolling. Think of these as ways to walk onto someone’s porch to chat or to invite them onto your porch. You may or may not go in the house with them and it is all about breaking the ice and starting the process.

  1. Be Ready to Engage. What a simple concept. How interesting is it for you when someone asks, “How’s the weather? Do you come here often?” These are okay as openers (certainly better than silence) and yet the opportunity to take the conversation up a notch is very rewarding. We need to walk the balance between being too personal and to impersonal. If unsure of the receptiveness of the person you are meeting start with something in the environment and move closer. For example, noting that, “This elevator is slow” is much safer than, “I like your earrings.” The latter—if accepted—moves the relationship closer quicker although it is riskier. The simple advice is to be in the moment and attentive to the other person.
  2. Focus on CPI. Look for a “Common Point of Interest.” This helps establish the bond quickly and firmly.
  3. Give Flavored Answers. There are many interactions where a question is asked as a polite conversation starter and does not expect any thoughtful response. “How are you today?” is a common example. Most of us answer with the one word “Fine” and this is expected. Try coming back with something more interesting. I have a friend that never answers this question the same way and is quite capable of hundreds of different replies. “Amazing. If I was any better I’d have to be twins.” “I don’t know yet. Let me hum a few bars.” I never know what to expect and since his business is all about helping companies craft creative solutions it engages a new person quickly and establishes his credibility in the arena at the same time.
  4. Body Language is Important. It may be tempting to cross your arms, for example, if you are tired, cold, bored…but don’t. That clearly sends the message to stay way. If you are there to meet people then make an effort to be open. Smile. Extend your hand. Join conversations in progress and leave the small group open to other people, rather than closing ranks. If two people are face-to-face and eye-to-eye no one else can enter the conversation. There are times when this is exactly what you want. There are other times, though, when it is not. Instead of being face-to-face open your shoulder lines so a third person can slip in. If you are ever cornered and looking for an exit strategy this is a good method to know—although having a few exit lines is more proactive.
  5. Provide Different Options for Communications. Some people prefer face-to-face encounters. Some prefer telephone conversations or email interactions. Include these on your business card, your website, and your signature lines.
  6. Always Have Business Cards. If you carry a portfolio keep some extra cards in there. As a backup have more in the glove box of your car. As a backup to the backup keep more in your trunk. You never know when the moment will arrive to share contact information and not everyone carries a PDA. Business cards are all-purpose, all-weather snapshot reminders of who you are. Keep them handy.
  7. Conquer Your Fear. I know Mom told you not to talk to strangers and that is important advice for a trusting, defenseless child. Leverage points one through four above and meet new people. You may need to stretch your comfort zone a little. Guess what? That is where growth comes from. Do it in a controlled environment such as a Business Networking event. The other guy is there for the same reason and may be more (or less) comfortable than you.
  8. Wear Your Nametag. This has become Scott Ginsberg’s claim to fame (or ticket to celebrity) and his points are all well taken. If you are serious about your business embroider your company name on the clothes you wear. If this is not appropriate then get a magnetic or pinned version to wear all the time. You may think wearing those sticky nametags look silly but they do make it easier for others to talk to you. I made a mistake once and put the nametag on upside down and it became a great way to open conversations. The helpful people pointed it out. The less helpful ignored it. This can be a good sort, too, although it may be a little manipulative. I have a nametag on a lanyard and wear it just about everywhere.

Assess your strengths against this list and get comfortable with the CPI concept.

Let’s also take a look outside the box, based on the CPI that you may not have considered. So far we have considered friends and family as well as new acquaintances as strategic partners. How about your competitors? Don’t they share your same CPI? Couldn’t they be the perfect strategic alliance for you?

How is that for out-of-the-box thinking?

Your action item this week is twofold. Consider your top three competitors and imagine what it would be like if you could collaborate. That may not be as far-fetched as you might imagine. What are your unique selling propositions and how do they dovetail with the competitor. Some CPAs do audits others do not. Some general contractors do not want jobs smaller than five day projects while others do. Some business professionals do not travel more than ten miles away while others do.

The second action item is to think of three magnetic people you know and go with them to a networking function. You will learn a lot and deepen your relationship while expanding your skill base and network at the same time.

 

© 2017 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.

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Written by bniguy

April 2, 2017 at 5:34 pm

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