For Professional Advisors:The Art of Networking
I have always loved the quote: Feel the fear, then do it anyway. Networking can be a fearful and uncomfortable journey however, it is one of the most key pieces to growth and opportunities in your life. This process is much more of an art than anything else.
The most important step in your networking efforts starts with you, your why. The goal with networking may be to make a new connection, find a common interest and help create helpful relationships however, knowing your personal goal is key. Before you can begin the discovery process, understand your own purpose and the goal you would like to accomplish.
Well, stop asking boring questions! No one wants to talk about the weather. Get familiar with more engaging questions: Why do you do what you do? What got you to where you are now? What is your ideal client? You can google the rest! This provides an opportunity to LISTEN and truly understand the person you are engaging with. Asking better questions provides the opportunity to dig deep past the surface and really connect with someone.
Get uncomfortable. Once you begin this interaction and get through some initial questions (even awkward at times!) you will land in a space of connection and opportunity. Remember, being nervous (sweaty palms and all!) is normal. This is a normal reaction to fearing the person’s reaction you are engaging with. Accept this, do not fight it or convince yourself otherwise. In this moment, check in with your own self talk (“yes, I may be nervous but that is ok”). People will appreciate and remember when you are humble and genuine…give yourself grace and encouragement in these moments.
Do your research and get prepared. Have you heard of the rule of 100? If you spend 100 hours a year (18 minutes a day), focusing on one task, project or discipline, you’ll be better than 95% of the world, in that discipline. It takes work, it takes practice.
Go to a networking event alone and meet new people so you don’t stick by your co-worker’s side, join a local board that does work you are passionate about, volunteer at a community event. Your network doesn’t grow if you don’t grow it. Wherever you go, prepare yourself for success in advance. Research the speakers at the event, what type of guest will be there, what goal do you have at the event…keep it simple and create attainable goals for yourself.
Stay connected and relevant. Any successful person with a large network will tell you it is because of relationships and how they connect. One of my favorite tricks (and yes, a very traditional method we can now use technology for) is when I would establish a new connection after a great conversation, I took their card and wrote on the back where I met them and a topic we connected on. I immediately added them on LinkedIn and sent them an email. To this day, I still have a book FULL of business cards I started collecting 10 years ago and I could tell you where I met each person and what we talked about.
Everyone appreciates a genuine conversation. This creates an inner remarkability about yourself that will leave a memorable impression with this person. You will never grow your networking skills by beating yourself up. I personally developed excellent networking skills over years, giving myself grace, being kind to myself, and being patient. Anyone is capable of great networking skills. Put the work in and make it happen.
Article by Shayla Romanyshyn, Regional Director-Saskatchewan, Hub Financial