NETWORK YOUR WAY TO THE TOP
I had the recent honor to address the future of business in the Redlands area. I was asked to lead a “Networking Tips” panel in front of the Redlands Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Network. I can tell you that if this group is an indication of our future, we are indeed going to be very bright. We were led by our own great example of a Young Professional – Marissa Kramer, our President Elect, who has done a great job of reaching out to our younger members to help them develop skills and network outside of the regular chamber meetings. “Young” professional can be defined as anyone 40 or under – or those who just “think” they are. What is the great thing about these panel discussions? You end up learning as much as you are sharing. This was a well spent two hours of dynamic conversation with our own generation-next. Here are a few of the tips we shared about making the most of your networking opportunities.
- Take inventory of your personal/profession value. What is your own value proposition? Do you sell homes? Or do you help people realize their dreams? Create your own value statement.
- Make authentic connections. When in a large group, it is better to make a few meaningful contacts rather than shake everyone’s hand.
- First impressions matter. Your posture and eye contact are the impressions made before you even open your mouth. Smile, look at them in the eye with sincerity, and give them a solid (not Superman) handshake.
- Be interested in them. Be sincere with your questions about their lives. Be specific. Know that people don’t care about what you know until they know that you care.
- Keep it real. Own your own awkwardness. In a big group setting, everyone is a little nervous, even if they don’t show it. Be the first to introduce your-self. Break the ice!
- Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Have a plan if important people are attending your meeting. Keep conversations short at first. Make a goal of 2-3 meaningful contacts. They will add up over time.
- Find a mentor. There are so many people willing to help! Ask them to mentor you on a specific topic. Ask them to allow you to try a new approach on them. You will make lifelong connections.
Networking in a city the size of Redlands is a great way to build your business. We have a wonderful reputation of service and friendly business owners. Get out there and meet one today.