Prepare For Reentry!
While COVID may not be over, those of us who are fully vaccinated are getting out and shaking hands again. It feels good, but let’s face it, after the year we’ve all been through it also feels a bit odd. In short, getting together again is going to take some getting used to.
We’ve been sequestered in Zoom world for a while now, but we can’t forget that successful business really does come down to people. Nothing is going to replace live, non-distanced social interaction.
You may be among those who have grown accustomed to the comfort and efficiency of working from home, or maybe you think your work “speaks for itself.” If so, you should probably think again. Your work doesn’t speak for itself. You have to go out there and speak for it – with confidence and clarity.
As an established branding and design studio, quality referrals account for a large percentage our business. With all the marketing we undertake to promote our company (including this blog), in-person networking remains one of the most reliable and by far the most fun.
In a 2015 profile in Fortune magazine, New York Stock Exchange President Tom Farley gave much of the credit for his quick rise through the financial ranks – on his way to becoming NYSE President by the age of 40 – to the power of effective networking. This seems like a good time to revisit Farley’s tips on how to make networking work for you and your business.
Don’t limit your network
It doesn’t matter if someone is inside or outside of your industry, if they are interesting and influential, be willing to commit time and/or resources to meet, connect or help that individual. Sometimes it’s individuals outside your immediate sphere that end up being a connector or offering the savvy advice that propels you forward at a crucial junction.
Do your homework
Once you’ve secured a meeting, phone call, or introduction to network with someone – don’t mess it up! Be prepared with at least two areas of common interest. For instance, before I met with Prime Minister Abbott of Australia, I discovered that he is a fitness fanatic and closely follows Olympic swimming. This unique information helped me break the ice by inviting him to train with me and a few friends – including a close friend of mine who swam for Australia’s Olympic team.
Don’t ask for anything in return
Networking is not transactional. Play the long game and build the network for the sake of building the network. Early in my career, I offered to review a peer’s business plan without any expectations about a job, compensation or even a cup of coffee in return. This encounter eventually landed me the position of CFO for this well-funded technology startup.
Oftentimes people miss opportunities to network because they feel intimidated, particularly if the other person is more senior. However, there is very little downside when aiming high, other than a bruised ego from time-to-time. The worst that can happen is they say “no” or ignore you. At that point, it is onward and upward!