My daughter starts this morning with a potentially disastrous business networking question:
“Where my gardening gloves?”
This time, though, I’m prepared.
See, raising kids is pretty much a gigantic game of concentration.
“Have you seen my sneakers?”
“I can’t find my water bottle.”
So when I spot her new gardening gloves precariously perched on her bed, I move them to her dresser before they get tangled in her sheets, stuck by the wall, or vanished to the land of banished single socks that never reunite with their mates.
“Aren’t your gloves on your dresser?”
She scurries off and returns triumphant. I enjoy my “saves the day!” moment for the two seconds it takes her to now start wondering where her favorite stuffed animal (Dirt!) could possibly be…
And it gets me thinking about your Elevator Pitch.
Because the business of business networking (so to speak) requires exactly this kind of recall.
The person standing in front of you most likely won’t now (or ever) need your services.
But they do have problems they need solved.
“Know anybody who can build a deck on the back of my house?”
“How do you get your customers to pay on time?”
“Where’s a good place to rehab my knee?”
The work of business networking is developing trust with experts who return your calls…because the first step for staying top of mind with people is helping them with what’s tops on their mind.
Be careful, though. It’s not about immediately and blindly offering names and numbers.
In fact, I don’t trust anyone who tries to refer me the first time they meet me. I don’t share my real needs with strangers. Nobody does. Not at first.
A better process is to pick some people you like talking to and sit down for coffee to get to know them better.
This serves two purposes.
First, they may have a solution that’s perfect for someone else in your network.
Second, they may have a problem that someone in your network can solve.
As you do this with more and more people, it gets easier and easier to make connections.
And when you make those connections, when you connect people with someone who’s responsive and helpful, they appreciate it, they remember it, and they’ll do the same for you.
That’s business networking.
Dirt (the stuffed cat) was on the dining room table, the sneakers were by the back door, and the water bottles were hiding, en masse, under the back seat in the minivan.
What’s the the strangest place you’ve ever found something you misplaced?
Extra credit: What’s the best introduction you’ve ever made?