Networking Power Tips: Follow up – The Complete Recipe

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The majority of entrepreneurs and business readily admit that they don’t follow up. In fact, surveys have confirmed up to 90% of people don’t follow up after a networking interaction. Yet, without following up, the spark created by the conversation will wither and die. There are three key components to a pro-active approach in following up and each has a contribution to make to overall success.

1. Preparing for Follow Up Success.  In order to gain maximum return of your follow up strategy, it is possible and necessary for you to prepare some areas of your upcoming networking interaction. This will make it easier for you to manage and lead the relationship-building process. Review these tactics to ensure you are properly prepared for following up.
Prepare your attitude. Appreciating that others want to meet positive, enthusiastic people is a key ingredient to follow up success. Develop and maintain a positive attitude about meeting others. Be sincere about finding out more about them and actively pursue how you can be of service to them.
Clarify your focus. Continually clarify your focus about who you want to meet and how you can bring them value. This will be extremely helpful in knowing who to follow up with. It will also be useful in allowing others to be helpful to you in more ways.
Practice your communication. You can facilitate follow up by preparing and practicing different parts of a conversation. Have an effective positioning statement and review three questions you can ask others to stimulate conversation and immediately begin building the relationship.

2. Maximizing an Initial Contact. Every person you meet has the potential to help you. Your mission is to discover how, even if this is not always obvious during an initial conversation. It may be necessary to create the opportunity to meet again. Check the following techniques and see how you can create more follow up during your initial communication with others.
Have a follow-up plan. Presume from your first moment of contact that you will want to follow up with this person. As your conversation continues and a need or issue arises, you can use a piece of information gathered earlier in the discussion to create a follow up contact. Look for common issues: Many times a networking discussion will uncover issues or interests that are common to both parties. This is an excellent reason to suggest a follow up meeting to explore the topic in more depth.
Expand a point of view. We all have a point of view, especially on topics that are important to us. Discovering what your conversation partner feels strongly about will perhaps allow you to suggest a follow up meeting to find out even more.
Enjoyable conversation. Sometimes we meet others and there is a strong connection. Compatible personalities often develop a powerful synergy. When you feel this synergy, suggest a follow up meeting. No other reason is necessary.
Interest in product/service. We are all consumers. As the discussion progresses, you may develop an interest in the other person’s product or service. When this happens, a follow up meeting becomes a natural extension to the networking conversation.
Specific information. Every conversation contains opportunities to help others. You will often find that you may have information that can be helpful. Sharing this information or suggesting a follow up contact to pass it on are excellent strategies to meet again.
Offer help. Nothing has more impact than a concrete action. Watch and listen for the other person’s pain and passion. Then find a way to offer help in either area. Simply offering is powerful but actually contributing to others will almost guarantee a follow up contact.

3. Managing On-Going Contact. A follow up contact creates an excellent opportunity. It confirms that the other person has perceived a value in your initial contact, and sees a benefit to meeting or communicating with you again. This is the step in the relationship process that is mishandled by most sales and business professionals. When you create, or are offered a follow up contact, use the strategies listed below to make sure you maximize all the benefits possible from a pro-active approach.
Genuine appreciation. One of the most powerful ways to maximize a follow up contact is to demonstrate your sincere appreciation for the opportunity being offered by the other person. Too often we take for granted the precious gift of another person’s time. Make it a point to acknowledge how much you appreciate their investment.
First of many steps. Relationships take time to develop and nurture. They require an investment of time, effort and energy. This normally happens over an extended period of time. By seeing your current contact as part of an on-going process you will resist the temptation to push yourself onto the other person.
Sincere curiosity. There is nothing more flattering than someone who is sincerely curious. Actively demonstrating that you are interested in the other person is one of the most effective ways to build trust and solidify a relationship.
Outward focus. Many people mistakenly try to use follow up as an opportunity to find more ways to convince others about their product or service. Follow up is an active part of relationship-building. Make this step a meaningful component by becoming a better listener and asking more questions.
Value. Use every conversation to discover new areas of value, for both yourself and the other person. Once you have discovered an area of need or a source of concern, you have created an opportunity to bring value. Find a way to help them solve a specific problem or achieve particular objective. This is where you can demonstrate the difference in your character and make the relationship even stronger.
Next contact. Each meeting or communication with a contact is a precious and powerful vehicle. As you dialogue with others, evaluate the conversations to elicit information, needs and issues. You will discover that others will want to meet with you again. Use each contact as a stepping-stone to the next phase in the relationship process.

These three components work together to stimulate and support the relationship process. When they are done sequentially and concurrently they build trust, establish value and set the foundation for mutual contribution; the ultimate reward of this investment. Which of these areas do you need to improve in the 30 days to accelerate your networking results?


Michael Hughes is known as North Amerrica’s Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing The Networking Experience”, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com.

12 Networking Hacks that Dramatically Drive Results.

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Networking is an activity that every professional is involved in, both formally and informally. How can you accelerate the results you want and need? Here are the top networking hacks you can use to help you minimize your effort and maximize your results.

1. Find the 5% that matter. Networking, in its purest form, is a strategic exercise. Knowing who to connect with allows you to zero in on the highest probability candidates for your product/service (about 5% of any network), allowing you to meet the right people by design as opposed to by default.

2. Be in the right circle. One of the biggest networking myths is that activity drives results. In reality, focus is the most effective factor in determining success. If you’re in the right network, you will eventually find people who want your product or service, even if networking isn’t your strength.

3. Use verbal judo. In martial arts, technique is more important than strength. It’s how a seemingly weak athlete can easily take down and submit a stronger opponent. You can do the same during a conversation by using “Tell me about…” It takes all the pressure off you and opens a conversational void most are happy to fill.

4. Cultivate this quality. One of the most powerful personal characteristics is sincere curiosity. It will separate you from the pack and help others perceive you as more personable and professional. It’s simple, but it isn’t easy. It takes intention, being in the moment and paying attention to a conversation partner.

5. Get the right ammo. Your key objective when networking is to get the other person’s contact info. It’s your most powerful ammunition to keep the relationship moving forward. Others anticipate and expect it, and will think you more professional for asking.

6. Find a link and leverage it. Even the briefest networking conversation can be converted into a relationship. All you need to do is listen better and ask more questions. Then, when you hear a topic or area that links you both, use it as a lever to re-connect and push the relationship forward.

7. Realize what others are really asking. Almost every networking conversation includes the question ”What do you do?” You need to realize that what the other person really wants to know is your value, not your life story. Prepare a 15-word elevator pitch that communicates your target market, primary benefit and the results you provide.

8. Cut to the chase. Most professionals have no idea how to communicate their value. Many will ramble incoherently about information that only confuses and annoys. You can bypass this whole issue by asking “Who are you looking to connect with?” It immediately unlocks the right info.

9. Eliminate the rejection factor. The single biggest business-related networking issue is failure to follow up. In fact, over 90% of professionals say they do no follow up (mostly due to fear of rejection). Minimize this effect by asking “Can I follow up?” before the conversation ends.

10. Shorten the leash. While networking can ignite a relationship, it cannot sustain one. On-going contact does that. That’s why following up is crucial. The sooner you re-connect with a conversation partner (ideally within 6-12 hours), the easier the relationship process will accelerate.

11. Hedge your bets. It is a fact that not every person you meet will do hire, refer or do business with you. However, if you can discover a way to contribute to their business life, they will remember you and work on your behalf. Use the five minute rule to help you take action when you see an opportunity to contribute: If it can be done in five minutes, do it now.

12. Take the long view. Relationships take time, need to be nurtured and require investment. Commit to growing a relationship for 90 days without expectation of reward. Then evaluate your situation and either re-commit or cut bait.

Remember: Networking is a skill-based activity. These twelve hacks can help you accelerate your networking success, but they also involve skills that take time to develop. Which one should you work on this week to drive your networking results?


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com

 

Networking Power Tips: 9 Ways to Conclude a Networking Conversation

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So you made a good first impression, identified some common interests and agreed on follow-up. Now is the time to conclude the conversation in an effective way and move to new opportunities, but how do you accomplish this with professionalism and poise?

Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that a networking conversation is really part of a process. They don’t accept that these interactions have a natural and normal conclusion, and that managing it effectively increases the impact with a conversation partner. Here are some practical, proven tips to maximize this important transition point.

1.Accept reality. Conversations end, just as life does. Very few people seem to know how or be comfortable with concluding a networking conversation. You can greatly help others by managing this portion of the process and making it easy for them.

2. Watch for signs. Usually there will be a lack of conversation or a loss of interest in the topic being discussed. When this happens, it means that the energy and enthusiasm of the contact is waning. Become more aware when this happens to better manage the process.

3. Decide to act. Recognizing that there is no further value to the conversation can be a signal to either re-stimulate the discussion or change conversation partners. Identifying this issue and taking positive action is both beneficial and necessary.

4. Consider your partner first. Although some situations allow for a quick exit, remember that it is bad manners to simply conclude a conversation, leaving the other person standing alone. Consider their feelings before using this tactic.

5. Summarize the discussion. When you see no further benefit for either party, you can summarize the conversation and indicate you want to move on. You can also at this point indicate that you wish to allow the other person to meet others.

6. Create a follow up opportunity. As the networking interaction ends, it is usually an excellent point to suggest a follow up opportunity, using an issue discussed earlier in the conversation and requesting a business card.

7. Thank the other person. One of the most important and overlooked parts of concluding a conversation is to take the time to thank the other person. This demonstrates integrity, respect and professionalism.

8. Expand the conversation. Sometimes it is just as beneficial to bring another person into the conversation. This allows a change in focus and can allow you to more easily move to another conversation without feeling you have abandoned the other person.

9. Change locations. If you don’t want to abandon your networking partner but want to create some new enthusiasm in your conversation, perhaps you can ask him or her to come with you to another location such as food table, or to join a larger group,

Successful networkers prepare for success. By creating and developing more options to conclude a conversation, you will be perceived as more professional and personable, which has a direct impact on trust and the relationship-building process. Do you have specific question about concluding a conversation? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com. Let’s chat. I can help.

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Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. Find out more about him at www.NetworkingForResults.com and download a complimentary copy of his 12-page ebook Managing the Networking Experience.

5 Networking Secrets that Leverage Centers of Influence

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We all have centers of influence. We know who they are and how they can affect our business, career or life. Yet, we continuously struggle to make the most of their power and potential.

One of the keys to maximizing centers of influence depends on how quickly, and how well, the relationship develops. Follow one or more of the strategies listed below to accelerate the process and reap the benefits these valuable relationships have to offer.

Focus on the process. Relationships follow a natural and defined process. It usually takes time and a certain number of contacts to feel comfortable with another person.
Instead of keying on the results you want, look to manage the process. There are six phases in the relationship-development process. By becoming more aware of them, you can have a direct impact on each. This is especially important when dealing with centers of influence who can offer major benefits.

Use a structure. We all lead busy lives with too much to do and too many people to keep track of. Discovering, developing and leveraging relationships with centers of influence is a priority as well as a critical success factor in business and in life. Using a specific structure to manage and track your highest-value relationships is a necessity. Develop a structure, either on paper or using technology, to keep the process moving forward for mutual benefit.

Be pro-active. We humans are social creatures. We are enamored with the relationship process. Too often, we rely on it to be self-directed. This can be enjoyable but does not help us achieve the results we want and need. Presume every conversation with a center of influence will require a follow up contact. Continually look for opportunities to confirm another meeting, create more value or bring an additional benefit.

Build trust. Trust is the single most powerful characteristic in a relationship. It is the foundation of every important relationship in your life. It can, by itself, be the stimulus to having others help you achieve your objectives. People perceive everything we do to be either for, or against, them. Discovering ways to demonstrate your trust in others, especially centers of influence, can have major effect on their willingness to help.

Clarify your objectives. You’re either working your plan, or you’re working someone else’s plan. One of the main reasons why others are not more helpful to us is that they are unclear as to how they can be of service. Evaluate each center of influence and clarify your needs from each .The more specific and selective you are, the easier you will make it for them to help you. This way, both of you will gain from the result.

Relationships take time, need to be nurtured and require investment. This can take weeks, months, or even years. Are you investing the right amount of tome effort and energy on these invaluable resources? I’ve spent the last 20 years building better relationships. If this is an area of concern or opportunity for you, contact me at info@NetworkingForResults.com. I can help.


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com

 

 

Moving From Contact to Client – 4 Cornertsones of Effective Follow up

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You’re great at attending networking events and making new contacts but when it comes to following up, you can’t seem to find the time. Did you know that almost 90% of professionals attend events but fail to follow up? That’s right, it’s not just you. Could it be that you’re not looking at follow up form the proper perspective?

Networking is an on-going process. As a business professional you have an obligation to yourself, as well as those you meet, to confirm that you are maximizing every contact. Developing relationships for mutual gain is a strategy that requires direction and organization. Here are the four cornerstones of productive follow up.

Clarity. The starting point of a successful follow up system is the clarification of parameters. Before implementing any program or system, you should invest time and effort to confirm a number of key issues around relationships, resources and results. Not all relationships are created equal, and establishing a clear picture of what constitutes a high-value relationship is a pre-requisite to using follow up effectively. You’ll be more motivated knowing you’re following up with the right prospects. In addition, clarity in follow up options and the benefits each can contribute is essential. Lastly, being clear on the objectives required, or expected, when following up, is one of the most important factors in determining which activities will have the most impact and benefit.

Control. Relationships tend to follow a defined process. By implementing a follow up program, you increase your ability to control, not manipulate,  the relationship process to help it happen easier, better and faster. This in turn increases your confidence about which activities will have the greatest impact and improves your competence in utilizing each for maximum benefit. Using a specific, structured follow up program is a powerful and productive business development tool. It helps clarify focus, determine direction and establish priorities. By initiating activities, you will increase your ability to develop and leverage relationships for maximum results.

Consistency. The single most powerful ingredient in prospecting is consistency. Even the most mediocre prospecting strategy, if implemented consistently, will pay incredible dividends. In addition, top-of-mind awareness is a critical success factor in any long-term business development strategy. Having the ability to adapt your activity level to maximize exposure or impact is crucial in maximizing the relationship-development process. An effective follow up program creates on-going opportunities to manage and lead the relationship process by continually monitoring progress and establishing the next steps. This can be one of your most effective marketing vehicles.

Commitment. If you knew exactly what activities would produce the optimum results in developing your highest-value relationships, would you get better results? Of course you would. Jim Rohn, one of the world’s most credible motivational speakers, said “When the picture is clear, you’ll pay any price”. Developing, implementing and committing to managing a structured follow up system is one of the most important investments you can make. The right follow up system will help you determine in advance which relationships to prioritize, continually review which activities to focus on and ultimately decide which benefits to maximize.

P.S.: want to have a look at my follow up structure? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com and I’ll send you a complimentary copy.


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com

20 Ways to Maximize Your Business Card

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I’m often asked if business cards have outlived their usefulness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Technology helps but, more often than not, it creates confusion and complicates what should be a positive and pleasant part of a conversation.

In addition to the good impression you leave behind, your business card is something your new contact can take away that reminds them of you and what you do. Here are some important points to keep in mind about business cards.

1. Your business card is your most valuable marketing tool.

2. Your business card should be of good quality and reflect your professionalism.

3. The information on your business card needs to be current, correct and concise.

4. A product positioning statement on the back of your business card can add extra impact.

5. Have an adequate supply of business cards.

6. Your name is the most important information on the card. Make sure it is prominent.

7. Keep business cards in one location (pocket, purse) for easy access.

8. Have a separate location (pocket, purse) to store cards received from others.

9. Make your business card more valuable by offering it only when asked.

10. Don’t ask for the other person’s business card until you have a reason to.

11. Scan the card and ask about information on the card (title, business category, etc.)

12. Read the other person’s card and comment on any unique qualities the card has.

13. Keep another person’s card handy while speaking with them to keep you focused.

14. Ask for an additional card to pass on to a colleague.

15. Ask permission before writing on someone’s business card.

16. Get your card into the person’s hands by first asking for theirs, then offering yours.

17. Don’t use a prospect rating system (A, B, C) until you leave a networking event.

18. Use a contact management system to keep information organized for easier follow up.

19. When your conversation partner doesn’t have a business card, have them use the back of yours.

20. Make your networking experience so memorable that others will think of you every time they look at your business card.

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Michael Hughes is known as Canada’s Networking Guru. Find out more about him at www.NetworkingForResults.com and download a complimentary copy of his 12-page ebook Managing the Networking Experience.

The Metrics of Networking for Results – Part Two of Two

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You attended a networking event and made some quality contacts. The conversations you had indicated a number of these people could be candidates for your service offering or your next career move. How do convert these valuable connections into the results you need and deserve?

Networking for results consists of creating and developing relationships. Relationships need to be nurtured, require investment and take time to evolve. Expecting others to do business with you, refer you or hire you after a 30-second conversation isn’t just unrealistic; it flies in the face of how life works.

Relationships have a life of their own. They evolve and expand, develop and deepen through an on-going social process. This process is both measurable and manageable. Here are five metrics that can be monitored to maximize its impact.

Contact drives the speed at which a relationship develops. Managing contact, especially early on in a relationship, is crucial to its success. Contact, in and of itself, creates a personal connection, builds trust and stimulates bonding. One of the primary objectives in every communication should be to create and confirm a next-contact. Are you making contact a measurable component of relationships?

Context , the sense of connection to another human being, is the super-glue that accelerates and deepens a relationship. Relationships, especially those that are the most meaningful and powerful are holistic in nature. They transcend the “business only” perspective to include and, in fact emphasize, the personal side of a relationship. Every conversation should include a context-building component. Are you measuring your context-building impact in every relationship conversation?

Value is the essential quality at the center of our most treasured relationships. It can only be discovered over time, through contact and context. Initially, we tend to see value through the filter of our own agenda (i.e.: how our value can help others). The reality is the only time value is relevant is when it relates to the other person’s needs. Are you investing time in every relationship conversation to elicit value areas and value needs?

Contribution dictates the impact of a relationship. There is no question that unselfishly contributing to another person’s business, life or success has a huge impact. The key to leveraging this in a relationship is to identify a high-need area and focus the contribution on that. The bonus is that the perception of contribution is as powerful as the contribution itself. Are you continuously looking ways to make tangible and specific contributions to those who are your highest-value relationships?

Outcomes are a requirement of relationship management. Yes, relationships, in and of themselves, are both satisfying and enjoyable. Having said that, and especially as it relates to professional relationships, there is a need to establish clear, tangible outcomes. Without them, you will never be willing to make the investment in time, effort and resources necessary. Are you clarifying and confirming the results you require from your highest-value relationships?

Summary: every one of the categories listed above represents a contributing factor to relationship success whether in business, sales or career development. Each one is a measurable component that can and should be planned and monitored to ensure the relationship is moving forward by design, not be default.

NOTE: want to start measuring your relationship results? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com to receive a free copy of my one-page Relationship Planning & Tracking Summary.

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Michael J. Hughes is a recognized authority on utilizing networking as a business strategy. To find out more about him, or to have him present at your next meeting or conference, contact him at his web site at http://www.networkingforresults.com/.

The Metrics of Networking for Results – Part One of Two

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You don’t attend networking events because you need more friends. It’s part of your professional mandate. Yet it’s so easy to get lost in the social aspects of this environment: just showing up, being seen, shaking a few hands and be on your way.

Networking for results is a process that creates and develops relationships that lead to specific outcomes. It involves two distinct areas: social interaction supported by strategic relationship-building. They are inexorably linked, interdependent and mutually supportive.

Relationships are ignited by a networking interaction. Although this experience can seem organic and unstructured, it is actually a formal process that can be planned, measured and maximized for optimal results. Here are the five key metrics of a networking interaction.

New-contact connections. A primary purpose of networking is to create new contacts. They represent the lifeblood of new opportunities and options. Yet our brains are geared to resist reaching out. It takes both courage and a commitment to action to achieve performance-based networking. You should be aiming for an average of five new contacts at every networking event.

Quality of conversation. It’s easy to have comfortable conversations that are entertaining and enjoyable, but your mission is to build productive, profitable relationships. As such, networking conversations must be maximized to identify and engage your highest-value contacts. Are you measuring the impact of the focused questions and effective listening you have, even in a 30-second conversation?

Business cards collected. This is one of the most under-utilized and overlooked performance areas of networking for results, yet it represents the most powerful resource for moving a relationship forward. Others expect it, anticipate it and will think more of you for asking. Plus, it contains everything you need to stay in touch. It should be part of every conversation. Is it?

Follow up confirmations. Up to 90% of professionals readily admit they do not follow up after a networking interaction. You eliminate this effect by asking to re-connect before you part company. This minimizes the stress of follow up, while the other person perceives you as more professional when you honor your commitment. Are you measuring your effectiveness in this all-important area?

Confirmed appointments. The ultimate measure of a networking interaction is its ability to act as the catalyst for relationship-building. Contacts, conversations and the networking experience must convert to on-going contact. Measure the link between them by confirming their impact on moving the relationship forward. What is your contact-to- follow-up-appointment ratio?

Summary: Counter-intuitive as it seems, implementing these performance-related areas does not detract from the human dynamic of a networking interaction. In fact, they will enhance both its impact and its intensity by helping you be more focused, more present and more professional.

NOTE: want to start measuring your networking results? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com to receive a free copy of my one-page Networking Event Planning & Tracking Summary.
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Michael J. Hughes is a recognized authority on utilizing networking as a business strategy. To find out more about him, or to have him present at your next meeting or conference, contact him at his web site at http://www.networkingforresults.com/.

Top 10 Chamber of Commerce Business-Building Tactics

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In assessing today’s marketplace, you realize that you must improve your visibility and credibility. You’ve made the important decision to join the Chamber of Commerce. How can you make sure your investment of time, money and effort pays off? Check out these proven, practical tactics.

1. Research the Chamber Directory. Scan the member directory, using a highlighter, to identify those companies and/or people who are your highest-value contacts or prospects. This simple act will allow you to immediately focus your attention and efforts to the right members, accelerating your chances of maximizing your attendance at events.

2. Meet with Chamber executive/leader. Make it a point to schedule a coffee or lunch (at your cost) with the top Chamber of Commerce executive or volunteer leader (or both). During this meeting, invest time to discover the Chamber’s mandate, main issues and needs. Then position yourself, your company and your products/services to support or strengthen the Chamber. This will separate you from your competitors and highlight your professionalism and integrity.

3. Schedule Chamber events. The mainstay of leveraging your Chamber of Commerce membership is attending events. Check the annual Chamber event calendar and lock in these important dates. Make it a priority to attend all events, especially early in your membership. When others become aware you are serious about investing in the Chamber, they will share their contacts and colleagues. Fully 75% of your success with the Chamber of Commerce rests with this tactic.

4. Arrive early. Most quality networking occurs prior to an event. Arriving early means you will meet more people and you can position yourself as a one-person welcoming committee. Also, this is an ideal time to connect with Chamber staff required to be at the event. These invaluable resources will share information and assist in meeting the right people. This little-used tactic has incredible potential to help you achieve more and better results.

5. Collect business cards. Develop the discipline of asking for business cards. This is one of the most misunderstood issues about networking. By getting the other person’s contact information, you have control. Get into the habit of asking “Can I get your card?” It’s expected (yet rarely done), others will be honored you asked and you will have all the information you need to follow up, if you so choose.

6. Have a product positioning statement. Help other members help you by having a short statement that identifies your target market, the top benefit of your product/service and the result of doing business with you. Prepare and practice delivering this important statement until you can do it naturally. Use it in every conversation. Remember, others will forget from one meeting to the next.

7. Follow up with contacts. Fully 90% of professionals admit they don’t follow up as well as they could or should. Connecting at a Chamber of Commerce event is the ignition point of a relationship. Following up with a new connection within 48 hours of meeting is not only a good idea, it is essential if you want to move the relationship forward. Chamber events create contact, your job is to link into the relationship process by following up.

8. Contribute value. Most networking and event contacts are quickly forgotten. Every once in a while, however, we connect with someone who makes a significant impact on us through their sincere efforts on our behalf. Be that person. Rather than using Chamber of Commerce events to prospect, see each new member contact as an opportunity to contribute. When others become aware of your sincerity and compassion, they will remember you and work on your behalf. This has been my business and life philosophy. Trust me, it works.

9. Think long term. Some Chamber of Commerce members, especially new arrivals, expect short term results. There is no question other members may express interest, but more often than not, they will require more than a cursory overview of your product or service to make an investment. Rather than finding fault with this reality, seek to delay your expectations of personal gain. Instead, work on building long term relationships. These powerful resources will supply repeated results that will grow over time

10. Measure results. Investing in a Chamber of Commerce is, above all, a business investment. As such, there is a requirement that it be managed effectively and produce tangible outcomes. Establishing specific objectives that are time-specific will help manage and maximize your Chamber of Commerce investment. Review them on a quarterly, monthly and weekly basis. This will allow you to monitor your progress and motivate you to achieve even more success.

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Michael Hughes is known as THE Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing The Networking Experience”, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com.

9 Summer Communication Strategies that Strengthen Relationships

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Summer can be frustrating and stressful when it comes to staying in touch with high-value connections and clients. Use these practical, proven strategies to maintain contact, stay in touch and leverage holiday absences into even stronger relationships.

1. Ask about holiday schedules during every client conversation. Prepare for the impact of the Summer holiday schedule by gathering information today. Listen for clues that indicate the urgency for the other person and ask about the impact for them and for others in their organization. You will be amazed at how helpful they will be when they realize your interest in their life.

2. Allow for more lead time in scheduling Summer contacts or important meetings. It is a fact of life that Summer brings with it delays and obstacles. The holiday season by its very nature can cause stress and sudden changes. Allow for this reality by creating a buffer in your scheduling and communication. Expect that others will need to change as events unfold. You will be seen as a positive influence during this difficult time.

3. Establish contact options for holiday periods. Luck has been defined as when preparation meets opportunity. Create your own luck over the Summer by preparing for the potential change in personnel. Develop the discipline of asking for contact options during holiday absences. Indicate that you will be contacting these people and ask your contact to communicate this fact to them. Make it a point to call the replacement to confirm they are aware of you. BONUS: You now have the opportunity to build a new relationship.

4. Use email/voice mail absence messages to stay updated on holiday schedules. Many people prepare for their holiday absences. Listen to holiday voice mail messages and take note of email absence messages. These may contain valuable information on options you can use to maintain contact or move forward. In fact, why not contact these people to start the communication process before a crisis occurs and use the opportunity to build a new relationship.

5. Make extra efforts to keep your contacts, colleagues and clients updated on all your holiday-related issues. (timing, options, issues). That’s right, the holiday communication discipline applies as much to you as others. Make sure you invest time to inform your most important clients and colleagues of holiday plans and the possible impact on their lives. You will be helping them by allowing them to better appreciate how the holiday season for you or others might affect their outcomes.

6. Schedule a call the week prior to holidays and focus strictly on holiday conversation as a relationship-building tool. Whether it relates to family, leisure or travel, the Summer holiday period is an important personal experience. You can enhance the quality of any relationship by investing time to call and ask about an upcoming vacation or check on the holiday plans. This issue is top of mind for most people at this time of year and they will love to chat about it.

7. Schedule a follow up call the week of a return from holidays and focus strictly on holiday conversation as a relationship-building tool. This is a great way to jumpstart your post-holiday communication. The satisfaction of an enjoyable holiday is easily rekindled by a conversation that reviews the highlights. Few people can resist answering the question “How was the holiday?”. As they relate their experiences, they quite naturally related all the good feelings to you.

8. Prepare at least two contingency options to deal with holiday-related problems. We all know that holidays will impact schedules and staffing. Why not accept that these things will happen and prepare options that will help overcome these obstacles? Chose your three best clients and brainstorm how their holiday schedules may affect you. Develop scenarios that will allow to deal with these perceived situations. Not sure how to handle them? Call your contacts and ask them to help. They will be happy to.

9. Be more persistent in your contacts and communications. You will be faced with unreturned phone calls, unopened emails and cancelled meetings. Sometimes you will even feel that others don’t care about you. Get over it. At this time of year, many issues come together to affect the lives of others. Be prepared that follow up messages will go longer with no return contact, expect that meetings and schedules will be affected and persist in your actions. Others will appreciate your efforts.

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Michael Hughes is known as Canada’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com

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