All this week I'm sharing my top tips for building your professional relationships. Today's tips focus on how to conduct your networking meeting.
Tip #5: It's not about you.
Paradoxically, while you are the one asking for the meeting and the advice, the focus of your meeting is not you.
Your intent is to get the other person to talk as much as possible — how they've advanced in their career, what advice they would give to someone entering the field, or what are the emerging trends they are noticing. Your job is to listen and ask more questions. Most people will ask you questions as well, but the focus should be mostly on them, not you.
If you're wondering how to do this, rest assured that most everyone loves to talk about themselves! The opportunity to be listened to is a rare gift, and most people you meet with will be flattered and honored that you are asking for their opinion and advice. My experience is that most people want to give back and help others advance in the field.
Depending on your purpose in networking, have a copy of your resume/CV available, in case they ask for it, but don't necessarily expect that you'll be handing it out. The focus of the meeting is them.
Tip #6: Loop it forward.
End each networking meeting by asking your contact if they can suggest anyone else you should talk to, and if they would be willing to make an introduction for you: this continues to build your list of contacts. Through your network, you can make some of your "cold" contacts "warmer" ones.
Consider too how you might be able to assist this contact person. If you see an opportunity for them, offer up a contact or two of yours if you see a point of connection that could serve their agenda or interests.
Tomorrow: wrap up!
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