You look at your emails or LinkedIn messages and you see that someone has booked a time on your Calendly schedule to get to know you. You get excited, maybe exhilarated thinking, “Oh, someone likes my content and they want to get to know me!”
Then you get a little nervous like a first date and you say to yourself- “Oh man, what am I going to say to this person? What if it is awkward?”
Network and date the same way- Be yourself!
I always say- “Some people are going to like me, others won’t but who really cares!” I am going to be myself wherever I go.
You may worry that the other person will think you are odd if you have certain hobbies or interests. Just like dating, some people we connect with and we wind up doing business with and others not so much.
Share your story and your personality. Don’t be phony because in time the other person will figure out the real you.
Small talk allows you to break the ice. Chatting about the weather or where the person lives is a good place to start but then dive deeper. Find out the person’s passions, dreams and what they want to accomplish in the next 5 years. Make yourself memorable with a compelling story. We all love telling stories and also listening to them.
Be a good listener. Most dates and networking one on one meetings go well when everyone has a chance to speak and share. People walk away with a good feeling when they know that you have listened to them. Put your phone away and be an active listener.
Pay attention and look directly at the person who you are talking with. Don’t get distracted by environmental factors such as other conversations going on at the coffee shop or your kids fighting in the other room. Put aside distracting thoughts.
Show that you are listening with your body language. Smile and use other facial expressions. Nod occasionally and make sure that you have good posture. How often have you heard someone say over 80% (or even 90%) of communication is body language or nonverbal?
Respect their time. Arrive on time and keep to the schedule. If you tell someone that you have 30 minutes to chat then you should wrap things up during that time.
Don’t be desperate. It is a huge turnoff. If you are on a first date or on a first one on one meeting for networking keep your cool. The first meeting is for just starting to get to know the other person. Remember it takes time to build a relationship in business or life. People will run the other way if you ask for business on the “first date”. If things go well during the first meeting and you both “click” then set up a further date/meeting for down the road.
Be Thankful and Follow Up. No, I don’t mean write a blasé cookie-cutter follow-up e-mail. Everyone does that. Mention something you enjoyed talking about on the date or one on one meeting. And then don’t just drop off the face of the earth. Feel free to send your contact an interesting article or a message a few weeks down the line to ask how they are doing or what they are doing over the weekend.
Remember to always focus on building the relationship. One date with someone or one on one networking meeting doesn’t solidify the relationship. Building a solid relationship takes time, patience and energy.
Be brave and ask that person that you have been interested in getting to know better out on a date or if it is for business then a networking coffee date or ZOOM call. And remember to #BeYou. Some people will like you, some people won’t and that is just how the life goes.