Love it or hate it, networking is a part of your business. BUT that doesn’t mean that all is created equal. In fact, having a process that you follow that helps you network effectively can help it be more valuable for you, make you hate it a little less, and make it something you want to do regularly!
Listen as we share our combined 25+ (ouch) years’ experience networking for our businesses and distill it into an easy-to-follow 5-step process to make your networking valuable – once and for all.
Episode 86 – Giving Value: What Does It REALLY Mean?
Alyson Lex 0:03
Love it or hate it. Networking is essential to your business. It's the process of getting out and interacting with other people that you may or may not know. And, and really just create connections with them. Right. And pre COVID we did this in person with going to conferences or networking groups like meetups, General schmoozing, coffee and lunch dates. And now post pandemic, the world has really gone virtual and networking events are popping up on line. So today, Jenny and I are taking our 25 plus years of combined experience with this. And we're sharing how you can be successful with it. Even if you hate it. Story super excited. I know I'm super excited about this storytime
Jennie Wright 0:57
I am. And this is going to be cute. So imagine going to a networking event and in person networking event, maybe you got on a plane, maybe you just went down the street, I don't know. And in the pre talk mingle because you know, there's always a talk that somebody gives for 20 minutes or so, in the pre talk mingle for 30 or 45 minutes. Everyone's busy grabbing their free coffee, they're chatting, and there's a very select group of people, okay, this, this always happens. There's the wallflowers the cliques, like the cliques, right. And I don't even know why they show up, because all they seem to do is pass judgment on people. That's my opinion. And then there's the social butterflies, the ones who are pressing the flesh, leaving their business cards everywhere. kind of think I saw one tucked into my coffee cup saucer, like they're everywhere. And then there's the people who go there for the authentic connection. And they are the people that make the most out of those events. And they're not over salesy. They're not also sitting in the corner hoping that somebody will come talk to them, or hoping nobody will come talk to them. And they're not the people that are standing around talking only the people that they know, so you know this story, and you fit in there somewhere. But how do you make it work for you to not be a wallflower to not be in a clique? You know, to be or click to not be a person who's just the social butterfly that overpowers everybody, you're in there somewhere? And how are you going to use this effectively to grow your business, especially as we're doing more of this networking online,
Alyson Lex 2:25
I just have to jump in and say that I think how you pronounce click is adorable. And I know that we've had this argument over niche or niche, and I did not know we would have it over, click and click, um, which totally rhymes and I'm now off target. So the first step to success with any networking event or opportunity is going to be your attitude. You can't just walk into a networking event or sign into it online and throw your business card or website at people on walk away. But the other side of that coin is one that I have fallen into where you go just to make friends. And so it's really important that you go in with the right attitude. And there are really two facets to it. Number one, I'm here, because I'm offering value to the people I will meet. And if you're confused about what offering value is check out Episode 86, where we talk about that, and actually define that once and for all. But really, it's I make their life better, because they've met me. That's a really important attitude to have when you walk into or sign into a networking event. The second part of your attitude is I'm being my true self, my authentic self. And I'm genuinely interested in the people that I'm going to talk to. Because here's the thing, people can tell when you're just paying lip service, they can tell when you don't really care about them, and you're only in it for you. It's also going to make it a better experience for you. If you walk in with this kind of attitude. You're there to enjoy yourself. You're there to give value. You're there to genuinely get to know people. And then as we're going to talk about in step two, of course, there's a side of it, that's for you, but going with giving and it's going to be better for you. Step two in this process is your priority and goals. So pre COVID I love events. And I always say I am out of charm by day two and a half. But that is because all of my time is spent really networking with everybody that's there. Okay, so when I network, I walk in with my goals set in a priority order, a primary goal, a secondary goal, a tertiary goal. Beyond that it's gravy and good to know Okay, so my primary goal for an event may be to find partners for a project, my primary goal may be to find clients, my primary goal may be to find speaking opportunities, whatever the main reason for me signing up to that event is my primary goal, then secondary, of course, not everybody's going to be a fit for primary, so what's your second highest priority? And then third highest priority, and then everything else is not necessarily where you're spending your energy. Okay? This will help you seek out those high value conversations. Remember, we're not just throwing those cards at them and walking away. We're adding value, we're making it so their lives or businesses are better because they've met us. And then we're inviting them to connect further.
Jennie Wright 6:03
The next thing on that is inviting people, basically to the next step. So when you see an opportunity to take conversation towards the next step, whether it's a collaboration or client relationship, vendor relationship, or referral, begin asking for that next step. So as a quote, I love the ideas you're throwing my way. Can we set up a call next week, once you're back in settled, so we can talk more about it? If it's an online thing, and this is not an in person event, then you can say, Hey, I love what you're talking about right now, why don't I send you a DM so we can connect, and maybe we can set up a time for a quick chat. And, you know, get more on it. Because when you're doing these online, or even in person networking events, it's a real challenge to connect with everybody in the exact moment, because things are kind of moving fast, right? You know, you're going from one thing to the to the next, or maybe you're presenting or whatever it's going to be, and you don't have the time to spend a heck of a lot to kind of build those relationships. And if you're doing it online, you're in somebody's chat box, and it's public. So you really don't want to have too much of a conversation where you're taking over that chat box, and having everybody else in there. So just say, Hey, you know, I really love what you're talking about at Allison, I'd love to connect with you. I think it's really cool what you said, I'm going to send you a DM, maybe we can chat next week, right? So keeping it like that. But the main thing is scheduling it right there. And then or making the intent to schedule it right there. And then if you're in person, the best thing you can do is pull out your phones, look at your calendars and say yeah, house Thursday at two. Yeah, that works for me, awesome, I'll send you my zoom link, and like send them a calendar invite bam, right there. You can do that in person with the online space. I'm pretty quick about getting into people's DMS, like I was mentioning before, and just saying, hey, how's Thursday at four, if that works for you, let me know, we can jump on my zoom, my zoom is blah, blah, blah, right? And doing it that way, main thing is you don't want to want to walk away from those opportunities that you've identified without having something somewhat concrete, and having that opportunity to connect with him later.
Alyson Lex 8:07
Really like how you put that have something concrete. Here's what happens, especially when you're in these high energy events, as we all are 100% there during the event. And then we forget 95% of it. Alright, so then step four, is to actually follow up, you actually have to follow through. And whether you have a call scheduled or not, you follow up with your entire deck, if you will, of people I'm talking about in person events now. Because this, frankly, is the single most opportunity at every event. I have been to a number of them, and the people who promised to follow up with me, very few of them do. Okay, so here's what I do if I'm traveling to an out of town event, or if I've attended one virtually, I like to grab my stack of business cards that get stashed in my little badge holder or my list of notes that I take on my pad of paper. And one by one I go through them directly after the event. That means I'm sitting in the airport, waiting for my flight. And I write a quick email, thumbs on my phone. And then I can either save it as a draft then schedule you know to send out the next week, or like Gmail has that little schedule send and you can automatically schedule it to send. Get it done immediately. If it's an online event, do the same thing. Send your DMS send your follow ups. Start getting like Jenny is really great at getting in their DMS, do it. Follow up Hey, then put it on your calendar to follow up again in a couple weeks.
Jennie Wright 10:00
I'm really, I'm really good at getting into people's messages I really am, I have no shame. And I think the key here is that you follow up, like Alison was talking about immediately. It may be when you're sitting in the airport, if it's somewhere where you had to travel, I found actually wonder what networking event I went downtown, I had a long bus ride home, because I didn't have to fly, I took the bus. So I had an hour. And I crafted probably about 15 emails on my bus ride, I was just thumbs on phone, and got it all done, and then was able to send those out to people. And I've got some really good replies. And the thing that we're trying to drive home on this is that if you don't do it, you're not gonna see anything from it. And then you kind of wasted your time, right? I also want to make sure that you don't feel shamed if you forgot, there's nothing wrong with reaching out saying, Oh, I just found all of the business cards from x trip, like Alison had this thing once, where I know that she went away on a trip. And she found a stack of business cards somewhere and like above them a bag or something that she mentioned, she's like, Oh, my God, I was looking for these business cards, just like not a lot of them, like just a dozen or so she's like, Oh, my God, these were here from like, two months ago. And she immediately send out an email. And she's like, yeah, you know, what, hey, I was I was looking for you is thinking about this. And here it is, right. So the follow up is key, and don't have the shame or be afraid to follow up later if you had to. Okay. So here's kind of what to send, you know, hey, I was thinking about you really love connecting with you, and really enjoyed the conversation, I really enjoyed what you said, I would love to connect with you, again, what's it going to look like for them. So saying something like, you know, and reminding them how you guys connected is very important, because they're going to get a lot of replies, potentially. And you want to make sure that they understand that it's used, so remind them of how you guys connected. It was so great meeting you at, I don't know, podcast calm in Vancouver, a week ago, three days ago, and I was you know, I was the person that we got to talk to, and we started talking about the fact that you know, blah, blah, blah, we both love skiing, like, what is the thing that connected the two of you. And then getting to that next step, right. Or if you saw something that you thought was really, really interesting, and this is this is playing into what Alison was saying about the follow up a second time, if possible, if you see something that you think they might be interested in, that is based on the conversation that you've had, send them something being like, Hey, I saw this article, or I saw this thing or, hey, Maria, we were talking about such and such, I saw this and thought of you here it is to keep that relationship building up and continue to be front of mind. Take a look at things like introductions to ideas that you had during the conversation. And even like a message where it's like, Hey, I was you know, I remember we were talking about such and such, and you were saying that you were you were trying to figure out this actually found somebody who does it. So if you want me to I'll make an email introduction, like helping them figure out their problems, is incredibly endearing. And it creates reciprocity. And they're going to want to feel like they owe you something in return be at a call a connection, and maybe a referral in the future. You never know, that plays really, really well into creating and building up relationships.
Alyson Lex 13:13
And you kind of teed me up, it's almost like we planned this. But Step five is the relationship because here's the thing, not every meeting is going to turn into a collaboration or into a client relationship. That's okay. They're still you. Right. So a few years ago, I was thinking about starting a product business like a physical consumer product. It was something in my head and I happened to be going to an event. And so that was what my tertiary goal was to find out more information and see if this was something that was valid. Obviously, it ended up not being valid. I walked away from that idea, but in that time I met someone who does payment processing, and more specifically for what are considered more high risk industries. Well, the CBD industry is considered a high risk industry just by payment processors. It's just a thing. It no bearing on how anybody feels about it. But I happen to know a couple of people in that industry who have been looking for payment processors. Well, hello, I have this guy's card in a box. I used to keep a Rolodex. But then I decided I was too young for a Rolodex. So I really need one back though because I miss it. And because everything should be digital and I tried to go digital but now I like print. Anyway. I have his card from I seriously think 2017 or 2018 and I probably pull it out twice a year and refer people to him. I've kept that relationship alive since then, simply by sending him leads. I don't get paid. He doesn't pay me a referral fee. But what I do get is to be a valuable resource for the rest of my network. And so I've networked with this one person, who I don't have a personal use for his service. But I have people who do. And so by introducing people that I know, I'm now the connector, I'm now known as someone who knows people, I get to be helpful in a way that benefits my online community, my network, and all it costs me was the space to store a two by three inch business card, and 12 seconds to write an email. That is the power of networking.
Jennie Wright 15:46
If you're thinking about your business, and how you're going to be able to grow it, you can't do it in a bubble. You can't do it staying within the little group of people that you may already currently associate with. You have to grow it. You have to network with people. I'm constantly networking, it's gotten me podcast opportunities, paid speaking gigs, referrals, I've referred business, it's helped me learn about new products and programs and services that I should be using in my business. And what I shouldn't be using, it helps me see down the road by neck networking with people who have gone further ahead in their journey than me. It also helps me meet people who are struggling and mentor them. This is something that's happening all the time with me. And I love the process of it, you also have to embrace it, you have to embrace the fact that networking is just part of your business, in the growth aspect. So think beyond your bubble. And you might be the social butterfly. And you totally got this down. You're like girl, I got this no problem. I don't have any problems with this. But how are you leveraging it. So make sure that you're using the stuff that Allison and I said to leverage those relationships, and not just be pressing the flesh. And if you are the wallflower, try and come up from that. And if you aren't, I'm going to try and say this in the English version. If you are in clicks, oh my god, if you're in clicks, then how to break out of that. Maybe if you go to these things, don't sit with the same people. Get out of that bubble, and start networking, networking with other people. We have a couple takeaways. As always, which we love doing these because there's so much fun with me. The first one is check your tude. Really play with that attitude. Okay, sorry, that made me giggle. But check your attitude. Make sure your attitude is in the right spot. When you get to these events, I get really anxious and nervous thinking that people are gonna look at me or not like me. But if I can get on these events, either in person or online, I know that you know, that's just me that's in my head. And I have to change the way I look at things or the way that I'm thinking about it to get the most of these events.
Alyson Lex 17:56
Walking into it, I'm going to just kind of talk about Jenny's taking take away for a second. Walking into it, knowing that you bring value to the people that you're going to meet is going to help a long way with your attitude. My favorite strategy is the make your goals your primary, secondary and tertiary or first, second. And third, if you don't like my airy words, it's gonna help you seek out the right conversations for you. And then everything else is a bonus.
Jennie Wright 18:28
Follow up, follow up, follow up, more follow up. Follow up. Don't think that you have to wait a prescribed amount of time before you get in somebody's DNS or in their inbox. Don't think that you have to wait like the three days or the two days or they're going to think you're too eager. If you send it right away with DMS, get in their DMS right away, right away with an email, maybe wait an hour or two. And absolutely doing the follow up. If you don't hear something on the first try. Don't think that there's something you it's not a personal thing. They're not personally attacking you. They may not have just read it. So again, that's an attitude thing. Get over it, message them again, or email them again. And still try and create that connection with people. Make sure that you're trying to keep that conversation alive and taking them to the next step.
Alyson Lex 19:17
Before I talk about my my second takeaway, I want to offer kind of a quick thought about the click thing. Because I've been thinking about this for the last couple minutes since Jenny mentioned it again. And when I go to an in person event, it is very reunion like for me I get to see my friends, and I get to hang out with my friends. But I make a very concerted effort to go solo through the vendor hall to the coffee stations. As I'm walking around. I make sure that I'm not with my people. Or if I'm with someone, it's someone who has the same attitude as I am and we walk together and split up and walk together and split up. And so I've got that anchor throughout the day. But I'm not glued to someone else's side, because it's intimidating to approach a group of people, whereas one on one, it's better conversation. So if you find that you are clicky, try that strategy out next time. My second takeaway is just to remember that not every meeting is going to turn into a client relationship or collaboration. But that does not mean that the relationship itself does not have value. So really value every relationship for what it brings to your life and to your business.
Jennie Wright 20:39
Over the combined and 25 years of business, also an I have developed quite the network, we probably know somebody that you might need, or that you might want to meet. So why not reach out and say who you'd want to be connected to? Or what service your provider or something that you're looking for? If you're looking for a social media manager or somebody to do certain things in your in your business? Like Allison said, she knows somebody who does payment processing for high risk, quote, unquote, you know, businesses, who do you need, write down your business, what you need right now in your business? Let us know we might be able to connect you with somebody in our network, because we're pretty resourceful people. So hopefully this is helpful. Take away what you can from this. What is your next networking opportunity going to look like? Let us know. Share it with us on Facebook or on Instagram, or reach out to us on our contact page and connect with us. Thanks so much for listening, and we'll be back again soon answering another big question.