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Entrepreneur: From Social Animal to Professional Connector

By Juan Carlos González Ulloa - Expediente Azul


By Juan Carlos González | Founder - Tue, 06/06/2023 - 16:00

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I suggest that we talk about networking.

Do you remember that time when your wife dragged you to breakfast with her friends? "Come on. It will only be an hour," she said, clearly lying to you.

With little equanimity and within the framework of a tantrum worthy of an Oscar, you accepted, and with a face that looked like you were constipated, you struck up a conversation with the husband of one of your wife’s friends who was probably in the same situation as you.

You gave yourself the opportunity to meet this companion of sorrows and hardships.

What you didn't know back then and never imagined was that this individual would become the business partner that your company needed. With his help, the company multiplied its turnover by more than three times in less than six months and you opened yourself to new ways of thinking (which came from a very competent person, both personally and professionally).}

The entrepreneur is a social animal. Networking for many is just their way of life. Every person in this world has a story, so it’s worth listening to see if there are mutual interests and points in common with new people. These points in common may result in benefits for your own company in the future. We call this result synergy.

Networking is the art of generating valuable connections with people with related interests and has one objective: to generate mutual benefit.

With continuous networking, the "worst" thing that can happen is that you find yourself meeting with extremely interesting people who can even become your friends.

You learn a little bit from everything. Networking effectively can be a challenge for many, so here are some tips to improve your results:

  1. Show up to as many events as possible and present yourself to as many people as you can. If the event has a social closing in the evening, I have found it very effective to start conversations throughout the day and crown them during the night over the warmth of a good wine or dinner.

  2. Avoid at all costs talking only with the people you already know. I am aware that it is more comfortable to surround yourself with your tribe; however, this closed attitude will prevent you from expanding your circle of influence or revealing opportunities that you do not know exist.

  3. Find out what the other person does and what they like to do before exposing what you do. Not everything is sales. Heighten your sense of listening and show an authentic interest in what they are telling you.

  4. Always try to generate value for them before seeking to generate value for your own benefit; this is very easy: try to share an experience with them or introduce them directly to a contact based on their interests (not yours).

  5. When you connect two people, make sure that both are interested in meeting. For example, if you are in front of a financial broker doing a networking session and you perceive that he can help a friend: first confirm with your friend that he is indeed interested in using financing services and then make the connection. Don't create a bad reputation for yourself as someone who generates junk connections that just take up the time of the people involved.

  6. When you connect two people in business, make sure to follow up on the connection (10-15 days later) to have clear feedback of your vision of synergy: was it successful?

  7. Add them immediately as contacts and send them your contact (vCard) via WhatsApp so they can easily add you to their phone.

  8. Give out lots of business cards and collect even more (physical or digital). Those offered after an interesting conversation are valuable, as you will likely have a prospect or ally on your hands.

  9. Agree on a system with your assistant (or even with yourself) to ensure a correct follow-up for each new contact. after agreeing on a concrete objective for a client, representative, provider or adviser. Furthermore, try to automate a flow of messages in your CRM to guarantee that the data of the contact reaches your system directly without any manual intervention.

  10. Send your new connections a thank you message for the conversation (in less than 24 hours) to remind them how you can help them, or how they can help you in the future. This will ensure that they remember you, or better yet, that they find your contact in the future.

  11. Try to subtly imitate your candidate in his tone of voice, concepts and non-verbal communication; you will manage to generate more empathy with him/her.

Finally, I’ll share two additional points to generate even more value:

  • Don't try to sell, sell and sell: that will drive anyone away. Remember the maxim, “We all like to buy, but nobody likes to be sold to.”

  • In recent years, the range of acceptance for personal image and dress code has expanded (in terms of tattoos, piercings, hair coloring among others), but never give up on the style that makes you unique. Although I do recommend that you stick as much as possible to the culture of the decision -akers and always with clothes in impeccable condition, clean and of good quality. Like it or not, your image is your presentation letter and first impressions are never forgotten. Yes, I know it's a cliché, but it's true.

Being listened to and judging others by what we see and hear is an instinct imprinted in some part of our genome. Take advantage of our human nature to connect and learn from others. If you make a good impression, inspire confidence, offer an interesting and educated conversation (aligned with the interests of your interlocutor), your network of support will grow every time you show up to an event; hence, you will be the biggest beneficiary.

Photo by:   Juan Carlos González Ulloa

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