Social media is a great tool, but it should not take the place of building relationships. Many times we think that, by surfing Facebook, we are connecting with people, but in reality, we are just cyber “stalkers.” We don’t know people, we just see the shell of what they want to present to the world. In this hyper-competitive world, true connecting and building relationships is becoming a lost art. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce is all about accelerating connections and building relationships. It is never easy, but it is a critical touchstone for success.
When you start connecting with people, start with a clear understanding of your objectives and outcomes. If you are planning to attend a networking event, start with the goal of producing two solid leads for your business. With that goal in mind, research your contacts that were made at the networking event and follow up. In other words, do your homework and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Experts are people who have stopped learning and asking questions. Don’t be afraid of your ignorance.
The Chamber hosts our Power Network every 2nd Tuesday of the month. It is a great way to make connections and here are some tips:
- Look for people you don’t know. Our human nature is to gravitate to people we know. It is only natural, but networking requires you to get out of your comfort zone. Augie Lozano with Bert Ogden is great at meeting people he does not know.
- Act as if you belong, no matter where you are. Confidence is a game changer and being comfortable in your surroundings is important. Make sure you understand the difference between real self-confidence and “fake” confidence.
- Pay it forward. Be the person who is always offering something or someway to help someone else in a networking encounter. Zig Zigler said, “You will get all you want in life if you help enough people get what they want.”
- Treat others how you want to be treated. The lesson your parents taught you when you were little – still applies today.
- Look people in the eye. Sounds only natural, but we are losing the art of meeting people in person, because of social media.
- Try introducing yourself first. When you meet, make eye contact at three feet, and then start extending your hand to introduce yourself.
- Use the other person’s name three times within the first 90 seconds of meeting them. There is nothing as important as a person’s name.
- When you are meeting someone for the first time, square your shoulders with the person. Body language tells the person your focus is on them and only them. If you turn your body just 25 degrees, you are sending the message you are looking for someone else to talk to.
- Be an engaged listener. Lean in when the other person is talking and listen intently to the conversation. There is a reason we have two ears and one mouth. You will be amazed at what you can learn by “really” listening.
Just some easy pointers on having a successful networking encounter. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce is about making connections and building relationships as a touchstone in successful businesses.
See you in McAllen!