This goes for just about any entrepreneur. THE ONE THING that makes it easier to engage others on just about anything is that the worst they can say is, “No.” The goal with business socializing, however, is to not make a pitch unless you are reasonably sure they will say, “Yes.” Business socializing should aim at learning about other’s interests, not making pitches, but developing relationships. You want to get to know others and you want them to get to know you – in a favorable light. Far from simply trying to “schmooze” your way through to a good reputation, this is only earned through exhibiting good character and good works.
Venues. Where to meet other business people for the sake of socializing? Just about anywhere except a dank, dark room with no internet connection. There are the obvious events like tradeshows, job fairs and conferences. Local community events, non-profit organizations, special interest groups, colleges, vocational technical schools, alumni organizations, fraternal organizations, veterans groups – all have the potential for meeting fellow business people.
The best place to start with is with the things you like to do and that interest you. The deeper you immerse yourself into what you are going to do anyway, the more likely you are to meet others with overlapping interests. The main thing is don’t limit yourself exclusively to the Internet – mix it up with real people, in person, on occasion.
Awareness. Helping others get to where they want to be helps you get to where you want to be. Knowing what others need or what would be useful to them is an important part of business networking. It’s always a good idea to vet a person’s seriousness, experience, motivation and other idiosyncrasies so you can offer qualified opinions of what they are capable of doing, and how they will achieve it.
Rapport. Don’t expect to hit it off with everyone, nor for anything to develop right off the bat. If you’ve taken the time to meet someone and you have their email or phone number, follow-up with them periodically. It only takes 2-3 minutes, and it’s easy. Early on, you can just ask them to explain what they do, what areas they service, and other specifics. Some people go so far as to keep an index card for each of their contacts – their birthdays, anniversaries, names of children – just to help break the ice. Some of your new contact may become fast friends, naturally and with no prodding.
Matchmaker. This provides you the opportunity to make introductions and be a matchmaker. Being a matchmaker in business, just as in personal relationships, carries risks for you if your introductions go sour. If you say Joe is an excellent graphics designer and turns out not to be, that’s on you. But, if your introductions lead to sales agreements, perfectly completed projects, and other good things, you will be remembered as the one that helped make it happen.
Your Future. The people you meet and the relationships you form today have the potential to come into play almost any time of your own choosing. If you know someone has an urgent need for something, you have the capacity to take it upon yourself to help them find it. So also, every day you have the potential to inadvertently bump into someone new who would be a good match for one of your other business contacts. The point is, you do not need to depend upon “random happenstance.”
One thing that helps a writer when they get a case of writer’s block is to spend more time reading, more time looking for questions and finding the answers to them. Similarly, in business, if you are in a rut, it can be helpful to get out and meet with other business-minded people. You can wait for business to come to you, but every hour of every day, you have the option to try to get something going. Fundamentally, this requires helping others find what they want.
Project Manager at the Opera Mobile Store providing Sales-Marketing support. Content development and research.
Opera Software 1875 South Grant Street, suite #750 San Mateo, CA 94402