Why Luck and Networking Can Catapult Your Business
Catch me at a business event, and you’ll see me walking up to complete strangers, shaking hands, and asking lots of questions. Why? Because my philosophy is always be networking.
It’s not that I’m trying to make money from every person I meet, but I have learned, time and again, the power of serendipity and networking combined.
Embrace Random Encounters
At a recent event, I walked into an elevator and greeted the man inside. Now, most people politely smile back, but I knew this guy was different when he responded enthusiastically, “It’s a great day!”
We continued our conversation, and I found out he was the founder of Echo Valley Meats, and had been on Shark Tank not once but twice. The second time, Mark Cuban made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Had I shyly smiled at this man and not struck up a conversation, I wouldn’t have met what amounts as a celebrity in my small business world.
Ask What You Can Do for Others
So many newbie entrepreneurs look at networking as the opportunity to find new clients. I encourage you to reject that way of thinking. You come off as aggressive and desperate when you walk into a networking event looking for money.
Instead, I encourage you to use my networking philosophy: Consider what value you can provide to this person that you are meeting. It might be to connect them to someone that can help them in some way. Maybe someone mentions that they’re looking for a roofer and you happen to know a guy. Make that connection and you have proven your value as a networking contact.
Very often value doesn’t come until you have nurtured that relationship. Maybe you took the business card of someone that you met at an industry event and then followed up a few weeks later. She asks you for coffee to pick your brain about something. When you meet, you give her some free advice, and in return she hands you somebody who would make a great client for you.
It’s important to keep in mind that networking is a long game. You benefit by adding to your personal network, even if nothing ever directly comes to fruition. But your network has its own network, and you might be surprised to get a connection on LinkedIn one day through a friend of a friend of a friend.
Knowing more people is never a drawback.
Be Open to Potential
There’s a beautiful serendipity that comes when you find your flow with networking. You’ll be more confident about walking up to an individual or group of people and introducing yourself. You quickly learn that people like to talk about themselves, and you get further faster by asking a lot of questions rather than talking about you.
In fact, asking questions is a great strategy, period. You can easily guide the conversation to learn about problems that a new contact has that perhaps one day your business can solve with its products or services. Asking questions puts people at ease, as long as it doesn’t seem like you are driving the conversation back to you.