I was asked the following questions during a recent business networking interview. Hopefully, my responses will help answer some of your questions on how to build a reliable network.
1. How did you first begin crafting your expertise in networking along with building PEEC*?
(*Also known as the PEEC Statement, which stands for: Profession, Expertise, Environments – or target market – and Call-to-Action.)
When I started my speaking and training business, my expertise was in the areas of leadership and communication, so those were the areas where I helped clients. But I always gravitated toward sales teams.
In growing my own business, I put an emphasis on networking because I didn’t have a big marketing budget and I loved talking to people. If fact, I enjoyed meeting new people and learning about their businesses. I figured that if I like them and can help them get what they want, they’ll help me get what I want. It was that simple.
And that’s what started to happen. Then, an organization realized that I was “well-networked” and hired me to teach their members how to network. Once I did that, I never looked back.
As for PEEC, it was comprised of the four principles that I thought were most important to share with those I met when networking. If we were able to exchange PEEC Statements, stay in touch, and help one another, we would grow our businesses. That became a formula that I’ve been sharing for the last 15 years.
2. What advice can you offer on networking for the very first time?
You must have a clear-cut understanding of what you do and for whom. You can’t offer everything to everyone. For example, I was speaking to a coaching client and she felt that everything she did applied to everyone. In theory, she may be right. But as far as marketing, you can’t market to everyone. Not until you reach a tipping point in your business and become Amazon.
So, if you’re a first timer to networking, find the thing that you do best – speaking and training services, financial planning, IT consulting, whatever. Then create, establish, and develop a target market – whom you serve best and therefore wish to serve most.
My target market happens to be the financial services industry. From a networking standpoint, that helps me determine where to go, what to say, and with whom. And that’s really my networking model.
By the way, this approach applies to LinkedIn and social media too.
3. How can you get out of a bad networking situation? For example, from a seedy company, a liar, etc.
You never want to be rude. But if you’re in an awkward conversation or you simply don’t click with someone, it’s natural to think of an “early departure.” Keep in mind, if they don’t click with you, you probably don’t click with them. Hey, it happens.
I believe we only truly connect with about one third of the people we meet in a networking scenario. One third!
Try your very best to focus on developing relationships with those “one-thirders.” It’s much more fun and it will be more likely that good things will happen. That said, if you’re already in a “bad networking situation,” after a couple of minutes, or when it feels right, extend your hand and say, “Good talking with you. Let me know if I can be of help to you at this event. Otherwise, good luck and I’ll catch you at the next meeting!” Or something like that.
It’s like tearing off a band-aid. I would suggest that you never make up an excuse like you have to use the restroom because the person you’re trying to escape from may join you. Awkward…
4. What are some of your best rules for networking via social media?
Here are my five best rules for social media: