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1st Date, 2nd Date, Meet The Family

Remember the saying that ‘time is far more valuable than money and that’s why rich people spend money to save time and poor people spend time to save money.’

This is because you can always get or make more money but when you’ve used or spent your time, it’s gone and you can never get it back.

Love it or hate it, business networking is an effective way to leverage your time, skills and resources, especially when you are relaxed and do it well. It’s also a lot of fun and takes away what many people perceive as the pressure to sell and ‘close that deal.’

Meeting people and building mutually beneficial relationships is enjoyable and definitely way better than hard work, especially if you don’t consider yourself a keen salesperson and if you love to buy but hate to be sold to.

When you build trust with someone you meet, such that you and they are confident and pleased to recommend each other to the people you already know and those you meet in the future, (when they need your products, services and advice) it’s a fantastic way to achieve more with less. In turn it’s a proven way to increase your opportunities in life whether they are personal or business, social or financial.

When you want to increase your business contacts, increase your profits, win more business, build a referral business, find helpers for a charity event or any one of the many other outcomes for going to networking events, it is essential that you maximise your opportunities for success from the energy and time you are putting in.

With this in mind, remember these simple tips to get started and to ensure the experience is fun.

Firstly, people generally attend networking meetings to meet other people who could be good contacts for them and their contact network. They are not usually there to ‘buy on the day’ from the people they meet. This comes later.

So, when we understand that no one wants to buy, we can recognise that the key objective when networking is not to sell but to get a second meeting or a further conversation with the people you meet. A great way to imagine this is to remember the 1st Date – 2nd Date principle.

When you first meet someone it’s like a 1st Date. Polite, friendly, often careful and tentative and an opportunity to establish rapport and notice what you have in common.

When you meet someone you connect well with and who you’d really like to talk to again, you ideally want a 2nd Date so you can talk on a 1-2-1 basis and get to know more about each other.

The important thing to remember is that if you are going to have your second date, both you and they need to feel the same connection and interest level, so your 1st date and 1st impressions count for a great deal.

1st Dates at Networking meetings are frequently brief encounters and often occur in the presence of others – for instance if you are talking in a group of people. Because of this, it is important that you are able to connect quickly and easily and that you stand out in the crowd as someone of interest to the people you meet. In this context, your physical presence – i.e. dress, appearance, energy, enthusiasm and personality is a major influencer and of course, what you say will reinforce this further so you are ‘rememberable’. We only have seconds to make a great first impression so make them count.

The ultimate longer term objective is then to get introduced to your ‘date’s’ Mum and Dad, family and friends i.e. their network of contacts, because that is the real proof that they are comfortable being associated with you and have confidence in you and your abilities to be good for their contacts.

At networking events, time is often limited and because you and the people you are meeting need to meet a number of new contacts, be prepared to meet, greet and move on, remembering what you have learned about each new contact, so you can introduce them to others you meet at the event if you feel they will be useful for each other.

As time is important, a focused conversation will be appreciated as it allows them to move on as well although an enjoyable relaxed conversation is key to building rapport.

Be open, relaxed, interested and interesting, listen intently and smile. Meeting new people is fun and to parody Forrest Gump’s mother’s advice – networking is like a box of chocolates, you never know who you are going to meet! When you believe that the very next person you meet can be another Mr, Miss, Ms or Mrs Right (in a platonic way of course), the whole process becomes a great adventure.

Have fun, enjoy all your fantastic 1st Dates and notice just how many great 2nd Dates you start to have as a result of your new relaxed approach.

PS: To ensure they remember you, put your photograph on your business card … and smile.

February 23, 2011 | Category: Networking for Profits — Tony Altham
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