Wednesday, May 21, 2008

7 Unusual, Uncommon, and Unexpected Networking Secrets

When Business Cards Aren't Enough:
7 Unusual, Uncommon and Unexpected
Networking Secrets to Help Boost Business

By Scott Ginsberg
author of The Power of Approachability

There comes a time in every small businessperson’s life when common networking practices like handing out business cards, attending various meetings and schmoozing with potential clients only goes so far. Eventually, the same old techniques get overused to the point that they become insufficient.


But how many times have you gained new business, created a great relationship or watched your website hits skyrocket because you did something unusual? Or uncommon? Perhaps even unexpected? Maybe you were on the right track.

The following is a list of atypical networking techniques that will help boost business. WARNING: They will stretch your courage. They will test your expertise. And they will challenge your creativity. But when business cards aren’t enough, alternative ways to develop and maintain mutually valuable relationships are your ticket to networking success.

What’s Your Story?
How did you get your start in business? Did you “fall” into your line of work? Perhaps there was an interesting anecdote, epiphany or event that caused the birth of your business. If so, this is called “Your Story.” Now, it’s not your Elevator Speech or your 30 Second Commercial. It’s your story. And it’s a fundamental tool for helping people and potential customers get to know you.

Here’s the key: write it out. Practice saying it aloud. Make it funny. And tell it to everybody. Not only does this create a memorable presence, but the more you share it with people, the more they will share Your Story with other people. Why? Because people don’t remember things, they remember stories. And after a while, the word about Your Story will spread.

Mix the Medium and Wow People
When I receive an email from an organization or business who has a question, wants to work together or just wants to chat, I do something called Mix the Medium. Here's how it works:

1) The exact moment I finish reading the email, I obtain the person’s phone number (if I don’t already have it.) If there's no email signature, I look at their email address or go to their website. If all I know is their company, I call Directory Assistance or look them up on City Search. Basically, I do anything I can to get their phone number within the next two minutes.

2) Then I call them right back.

3) I then say, "Hi, this is Scott Ginsberg. I was in the office when your email came through and I thought I’d call you back!" I say with a big smile on my face.

PEOPLE LOVE THIS. I have never done this without completely blowing the caller away. They respond with such excited phrases as "Wow, that was fast!" or "I'm impressed you called back already!" In fact, I recently received an email from a friend of mine who just changed jobs. He was writing to say hello and wish me a Happy New Year. And since I hadn’t heard from Jake in quite a while, I Mixed the Medium and called him right back. Five minutes later he booked me to do one of my speaking programs for his new organization!

Network en Masse
Speaking of speaking, here’s another untapped networking resource: local groups, organizations and associations. But I’m not talking about joining; I’m talking about giving a speech. It’s what I call “Networking en Masse.”

Small businesspeople are successful because they’re experts on something. So whether you’re in sales, printing, tech consulting or retail, find a way to transform your expertise into an informative, concise and entertaining speech that will help other people like yourself boost business.

Contact the meeting coordinator of your local Chamber, Rotary Club, Networking Group or Trade Association. They always need speakers. Offer the group a free 15-20 minute program. Include valuable tips, stories, illustrations and examples from your own business experiences that are of interest to the members. By speaking, you position yourself as an expert, validate your credibility and increase your company’s visibility.





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