Tracey Mitchell, a dear friend of mine who left this earth way too young, used to affectionately call me, “Miss Flo.” Why such a moniker? Because I know a lot of people, in multiple circles. And almost anytime we went somewhere in a place as large as NYC, we’d end up running into someone I knew.
Some friends tease me about this still being true today. Often “betting” how long it will be before we run into someone I know.
If the number of people I know were the measurement of how great a networker I am, I’d score quite high. Same when it comes to how well I use my network on behalf of others. But these metrics don’t tell a complete story.
So, let’s take stock of what you might consider to answer this question. And to capture some of the subtlety, let’s use a scale of 1-10 instead of a binary rating of “good” or “bad.”
How do you currently network – by referral, via social media, some other method? As things begin to open up even more, do you plan to attend any in-person events?
How often do you network?
Are you systematic about networking? Do you have a system in terms of frequency, preparing, engaging, following up?
On a scale of 1-10, what rating would you give yourself for these questions?
What story is emerging from your ratings, both in terms of what you’re doing well and where improvements are needed?
Your Networking Style
Before the event: What do you do to prepare for a networking experience – be it in person, by phone or Zoom? (Notice I didn’t include email…)
At the event:
- Do you ask questions? Or, is it all about you?
- Do you listen more with the intent to be present, rather than waiting for an opening to turn the focus to you?
- Do you have a wandering eye? Are you scanning the room for who next you want to speak with instead of focusing on the person/s in your immediate space?
- Do you thank the person for their time before moving on to speak with others?
- Do you invite the person to join you in speaking with others?
- Do you offer to remain in touch only if you sincerely want to (instead of out of a feeling of obligation)?
After the event:
- Do you follow-up, in general, or as agreed?
- Do you wait until a degree of trust has been established before you make an ask – especially if it involves asking the other person to open their “rolodex”?
- Do you only remember to follow-up when you need something you believe the person can help you with?
On a scale of 1-10, what rating would you give yourself for this set of questions?
Again, what story is emerging from your ratings, both in terms of what you’re doing well and where improvements are needed?
Yes, that’s right…how you approach networking and where you rate yourself on the continuum can help you discover insight about yourself. And, it may surprise you.
As I said at the start of this piece, one of the things I discovered as I’ve taken stock of my approach to networking is my tendency to tap into my network more for the benefit of others than for my own purposes. (I’m working on this.) Another aha was realizing that while I’m very good at following up (I’m very detail oriented), I’ve grown so accustomed to getting referrals that I rarely ask for them. (I’m working on this, too.)
Are you familiar with a SWOT analysis? If not, the acronym stands for: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This visual tool was created in the 1960s by management consultant, Albert Humphrey, to help large organizations with their planning process.
I happen to think the tool is beneficial for small businesses and entrepreneurs, as well. Not only do we use it, in our coaching engagement, for their planning purposes, I also have all my clients apply the tool to their money, too. And as I was outlining this series, it occurred to me that doing a SWOT as it relates to networking could complement the insight you’ve gotten from your self-ratings. Give it a try!
So, what makes you a great networker? If you’re game to share, let me know – comment below or send me a DM on IG.
But however you answer, one thing is for certain: Being a great networker requires a lot of intentional choices and actions.
Therefore, may the insight you gain from your answers to the questions herein, along with the self-ratings, help you in this regard. In other words, don’t just read this. 🙂 Especially if you don’t want to leave any future success on the table.