I’ve learned something. If you build your network right, your network is EVERYTHING in business.
They are a support group when things in business have you down, they are your cheerleaders when things are going well. They are a source of referrals and recommendations.
Cultivating a good rapport with your network is key to keeping it healthy. Nurture your relationships and show them you care. Share their posts. Comment on what they share. Think of them when you need services they provide. Start up a sharing pod in LinkedIn messages and invite them to join and share their posts.
Because in business, you’re nothing without your network.
I’ve been in the business world for more than a decade. Before that I was a journalist.
Throughout my adult post-graduate life, I’ve been hypersensitive to the effectiveness of a one-on-one business meeting. It astonishes me that some people, regardless of how long they’ve been in business, haven’t mastered the art.
Here are some tips to follow when doing a one-on-one that can prevent you from losing (business and your reputation.
Set a time to meet and be there 5 minutes early – If you can’t be there early, being at least on time is absolutely mandatory. There’s nothing worse than having to wait for the other person to show up.
If there is a family emergency or you need to cancel, reach out to the person on all forms of communication until you either run out or you get in touch with them – Nothing’s worse than having a one-on-one and not having the person show up. Even if it’s for a good reason, be courteous and make sure they know. You can’t assume that the particular form of communication you chose to contact them is the one they will be checking.
Always try and learn as much as you can about the other person when meeting. — Just talking about your business and yourself for 30 minutes without asking about the other person and their business is just plain RUDE. It WILL hurt your reputation and you’ll probably lose that contact forever.
A one-on-one is not a sales meeting. It’s a place to learn about the other company and figure out if there is any synergy to working together for the future. — Nothing’s worse than being pitched at a meeting, especially when you’re not expecting it.
When meeting, try and find a place that is similar distance for both parties — Having to drive all the way to one person’s location is not always considerate. Sometimes it’s necessary, but meeting on mutual turf is often easier to network and learn about each other.
Always write a quick note after the meeting to thank the other person for taking the time to meet you — A little extra goes a long way in keeping you top-of-mind with that person.
Follow these tips and you’ll be sure to get more out of your next one-on-one.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Did I miss a crucial one? Post it in the comments below.
I recently joined an amazing startup here in Philadelphia called Contap, as their marketing lead.
Some Background On My Obsession With Networking
Since graduating college, I’ve always been into networking and meeting new people. This increased exponentially after I left the field of journalism and entered into the business world. Networking became, and still is, a crucial part of my business development activities.
I’ve always loved business cards, since I was young, I always designed my own business cards. In high school I studied the business card culture in Japan and that fascinated me even more with connecting and networking.
Flash-forward to 2006, I had just joined Mobile Mini, so networking and connecting with business owners (construction and otherwise) became a crucial part of my business. This only increased when I opened up Goldstein Media in 2007, and then as an entrepreneur, I faced the reality of connecting with new people all the time. Over subsequent years, I’ve tried lots of different technologies (apps, binders,. gadgets, gizmos) to keep my contacts organized. I found a great app called FullContact, which I used to this day, to keep my contacts up-to-date across my email accounts.
But, something was missing. As much as I loved the business card, I wanted something that would utilize the power of my smart phone and integrate my social platforms, documents, etc,. Enter Contap.
When Seth Met Jason
I first discovered Jason Craparo, the CEO and founder, when I read an article in a local technology blog, where they were outlining the early version of Contap. I wrote a message in the comments and Jason and I met up for coffee. During this meeting, Jason shared with me the vision for what Contap was going to be in the future, I wanted in. This was more than a year ago. The team at Contap has been heads-down completely redesigning and rebuilding the application from scratch. Now we’re in July 2016, funding is coming in from all over the country. I’ve accepted the position of Marketing Lead (contract for now).
So What Exactly Is Contap?
“We’re a Philadelphia-based startup focused on revolutionizing the way people connect and share information,” Jason says. “We want our app to be the go-to app used at networking events across the world and facilitate every new connection that happens. Wherever connections are made (happy hour, conference, Meetup event), that’s where we want to be.”
Users load up their contact info, documents, CRM, social platforms, etc. and when they meet new people they can easily tap on whatever icons they’d like to share with their new Contap. All their Contaps are then stored in the app, and they can easily call, text, email, view social media, and documents right from the app. If you want to add a new Contap to your Salesforce.com, simply tap on the CRM button and they’re added. More CRM integrations and more cloud-based document storage options (Google Drive, Box, OneDrive, iCLoud) are on the roadmap as well as other social networks and functionality.
Think sharing Instagram, Twitter, cell phone with the happy hour crowd, but Linkedin, Resume, Website, and Business number at a networking event. Two different audiences, separate information.
I network – a lot. It’s in my blood and is a necessary activity for an entrepreneur and freelancer.
Over the years, I’ve tried many different types of systems to increase my productivity and help disseminate my contact information to people. And you know what? I still come back to the business cards.
There is something about a well-made, thought-out business card that still resonates with business people. Getting a crisp, thick business card will more than likely get a seconded and even a third glance. It also will probably make it into the recipient’s address book.
Now there are tons of apps out there that purport to do away with the business card. None have worked for me. There is still something about that well-made card that just works.
Don’t Skimp On The Quality of Your Business Card
Now there is an inherent problem with physical business cards. The shoddy, cheap ones, which are not thought out and rushed. These “might” make it back to my desk and “might,” if relevant, end up in my contact system (more on my flow and system later). But more likely than not a poorly made card doesn’t get very far.
Call me a snob, but a business card is an extension of you and your brand. It creates a first impression. The only thing worse than a poorly made card is not having one at all.
There are an incredible amount of business card printers out there, many make some pretty nice cards, too. Regardless, there is no excuse for having a bad business card.
The Rise of the Unconventional Card
One thing I’ve noticed lately is unconventional cards: Different sizes, layouts, and materials.
The latest card I’ve gotten that is still on my desk is made of METAL! Yes, I said Metal. Let’s just say that card (and the information it contains) will probably stay on my desk for a while and might even get that person some business.
Now, you can Google where to get metal business cards and find tons of companies that can do them. But why not try out MetalBusinessCards.com. Full disclosure: I’m the social media manager for SWGPromo, a company that runs MetalBusinessCards.com. Even with this relationship, I’ve seen the quality of what they can do and all can say is WOW.
Keep in mind that, with most things, the fancier the card the more expensive it is. Though for the opportunity to make the right first impression, the prices aren’t steep. If you go to MetalBusinessCards.com and like what you see, use the promocode SETH10 at checkout for 10% off.
My Business Card Flow
As promised here’s my business card flow:
Receive a business card
Examine it and find out more about the person behind the card
Put it in my shirt pocket for safekeeping
Once home I scan the cards I get at a meeting or event into FullContact, which transcribes the data and puts it into a searchable database that works with my email client of choice (GMail and Google Apps for me)
I then go to LinkedIn and find those people and connect with them there as well
Yesterday I went to a Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals event at the Warrington Country Club in Doylestown, PA. It was a great event, but while there I noticed something about the right and wrong way to network. Please excuse the fast talking, I’m very passionate about this topic.