How to Get The Most of Any Networking Opportunity

You’ve heard me say time and again how much “success” is such a subjective term. Perception is a powerful aspect of how we as people and professionals (as if those are two different things) are viewed, it is amazing to me how many of us still miss the point from time to time.

Just this week, I was invited to visit a networking event with one of my clients, whom I have networked with for years. My travel schedule makes it tough for me to be a regular member of a group that meets weekly, but I figured it could be a fun way to meet some new people. When it came time for my 60-second commercial (as a guest I was granted 120-seconds), I glanced down at a few notes I’d scribbled on an index card and just started talking. They laughed. They smiled. We connected. Isn’t that the goal? At the end of the meeting, several people in the group requested the opportunity to meet one-on-one over coffee to learn more, and one fellow even handed me a referral AT THE MEETING!

Here are a few tips to get the most out of any networking opportunity. Try these the next time you walk into a room full of strangers. You never know where your next opportunity or client will come from:

  1. BE CONFIDENT – You are who you say you are, if your actions are confident. You are a subject matter expert for what you do…ACT LIKE ONE! [Need help in this department? Visit a local Toastmasters club!]
  2. TELL A QUICK STORY – Which do you think is more memorable: a) “Hello, my name is ______ and I work for _________.” or b) “**insert a quick 30-45 second story about how you solved someone else’s problem**:..
  3. LET THEM KNOW HOW TO GET MORE INFO ABOUT YOU – Two great ways to do this are: a) direct them to YOUR website (ask them to connect with you on a professional, social networking site like “LinkedIn” or if your organization has a “Fan Page” on Facebook, direct them there or b) Tell the audience to ask the person who invited you to the meeting to tell them how you successfully worked with them! What’s better than a live, word-of-mouth success story from a CLIENT!?

Above all…If you don’t have any business cards (hey, sometimes we forget them or run out)…make sure to get one from everyone in the room and make it a point to follow up with each one directly! Anyone remember the hand-written note? It works! Now…get out there a find some business!

Ice Storms and Windshields – True Story!

Over the years, I’ve shared a few of my travel stories…this one is, perhaps, the scariest to date. In short, here’s a copy of the post I made to Twitter shortly after it happened: 70 mph + falling ice = shattered windshield. That was scary!

On my way back to Tulsa following a speech this morning in Van Buren, Arkansas, I was chatting with a friend (on my bluetooth headset) about a current project, when I heard a sudden POP and looked over to see the first image. After a startled shout, somehow I managed to maintain enough composure to end the call, pull over to the side of the road and figure out what had just happened.

As I looked back down the road toward where this had occurred, I noticed there was a huge power line stretched over the turnpike. The line, like the trees all around, were covered in a tremendous amount of ice left from the storm system that’s been working it’s way east over the past few days. Ice that was beginning to fall from a height of about 100′ to the ground. I never saw it coming.

When you look at the second picture, you can see the tremendous dent left in the support post on the passenger side of my SUV from the impact of the falling ice that actually hit the vehicle…Did I mention I was truly traveling at 70 mph when this occurred?

Fortunately, the impact was on the passenger side of the windshield and only blew glass into the seat NEXT to me, rather than in my face. And, despite not being able to use the wipers for fear of knocking an open hole in the glass that might rapidly cause the window to completely disintegrate, I made it back to Tulsa in about an hour.

Some things I learned today:

  1. Yes. Freak things CAN happen to ANYONE when driving. Stay alert, and be calm if disaster strikes.
  2. It is CRITICALLY important to keep your mechanic’s phone number in your cell phone. I called mine right after my insurance agent (who couldn’t help) and he referred me to a glass local, family-owned auto glass shop. I scheduled an appointment within 15 minutes after impact and about 3 hours after arriving back in town, the windshield had been replaced…at a VERY reasonable rate!
  3. Wiper fluid that includes Rain-X creates a helpful water shedding effect when driving on a wet highway if you are unable to use your wipers.
  4. Windshields are surprisingly cheap.
  5. Act quick when you need to get something done. By the time I arrived at the shop (about an hour after the incident) they were already pushing off work until next Monday (4 calendar days later). If I hadn’t called, I wouldn’t already have the glass replaced. [Hmmm. Anyone know a good body shop?]

God has a plan for me, and I must still have something important to do here on this great earth, so I’m going to continue making every day count! I’d encourage you to do the same.