I recently stumbled upon a great blog post which featured a list of 106 Tips to Become a Master Connector.
After reading through the list a few times, I found that some of the items really resonated with me and I thought I'd share my thoughts on a few of them.
Those who are best at it don’t network - they make friends. A widening circle of influence is an unintended result, not a calculated aim.
People do business with people they like. After a particularly bad experiences last year working with a client whom I didn't like, I decided to collaborate or do business with people whom I'd like to be friends with. It just works out so much better this way.
Connect with super-connectors
Some people know many, many more people than the rest of us. Such people should be the cornerstones to any flourishing network. Once you become friendly with a super-connector, you’re only two degrees away from thousands of different people.
My friend Chris Heuer, founder of the Social Media Club, is a great example for both of the last two tips. We've been friends since we met at an unconference that he put together in 2005 and he's a super-connector. I've met so many people and have been exposed to many great ideas through him and his fiance Kristie Wells.
Don’t try to balance your professional and personal life
Balance is a myth. Real connecting insists that you bring the same values to every relationship. As such, dividing your life between professional and personal spheres no longer made sense.
Whether we like it or not, this convergence is happening. Coincidentally, I just joined a facebook group that deals with this.
Be informed about whom you meet
If you are informed enough to step comfortably into their world and talk knowledgeably, their appreciation will be tangible. The idea is to find a point of common ground that is deep and rich. Then you’ll have an opportunity to bond and impress.
When I read this one, I thought of when I met Matt Mullenweg at a party a few years ago. I was still fairly new to the tech scene at the time and I had no idea he was the man responsible for Wordpress. When he introduced himself, I knew I had heard his name before but I just couldn't place it. I remember asking him quite loudly if he was the guy who created memeorandum. All of a sudden, it was like one of those moments when everything seems to freeze; you know...phones stop ringing, crickets stop chirping and all the attention focuses on you. He humbly corrected me and a connection was made. OK, maybe it's not that funny, but I still chuckle when I think of that moment.
Ironically, when I met Gabe Rivera, the man behind memeorandum & Techmeme, it was at Wordcamp, the Wordpress convention. It's kind of funny how things work out sometime.
Make warm calls
Use these four rules for warm calling:
1. Convey credibility: mention a familiar person or institution.
2. State your value proposition: what can you do for them?
3. Impart urgency and convenience: in most instances, the sole objective of the cold call is to get an appointment.
4. Be prepared to offer a compromise: go big at the outset, leaving room for compromise.
I'm not really big on talking on the phone. I'd rather use social networking tools like Facebook, Upcoming and Twitter to stay in touch and then connect in person, but I realize that I'm limiting myself and my network by excluding those who aren't using those same tools. To help remedy this, I've committed to making one warm call a day. Wish me luck ;)
Ping all the time
80 percent of building and maintaining relationships is just staying in touch (or “pinging”). Pinging takes effort. You have to keep pinging and pinging and pinging and never stop. You have to feed the fire of your network or it will wither or die.
This is why I like services like Twitter. Through Twitter my friends and I post little updates and interesting tidbits throughout the day to stay in touch.
Do your first follow up soon
Give yourself between 12 and 24 hours after you meet someone to follow up. E-mail is a fine tool for dropping a quick note.
I'm great at this one
Don’t forget to do your second follow-up
In a month’s time, drop the person another e-mail, just to keep in touch.
But I'm not so great at this one.
Always remember the other person’s name
Nothing is sweeter to someone’s ears than their own name.
Another thing that I can improve on. I don't know why this is so hard for me. Quite often, I forget someone's name before they're finished introducing themselves. Hopefully these tips will help me with this one.
Finally. Here's an actionable item that I'm looking forward to working on.
Create a Relationship Action Plan
There is a process involved in building a network. Your Relationship Action Plan consist of three sections:
1. Your goals up to three years from now in three months increments.
2. Names of people that could help you reach each goal.
3. Strategies to reach the people you list in point 2.
Once you have your plan, post it in a place where you will see it on regular basis.
So, there you have it. I encourage you to take a look at the list and I'd love to hear your thoughts.