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Saturday, August 16, 2008

The One Word That Will Destroy Your Networking Efforts

Mastering the Membership Maze with Glen Gould

One word? Can it be that of the 616,500 words in the Oxford English Dictionary there is one word that we’re using that is sabotaging our networking efforts? Indeed.

Networking is about communicating effectively how you and the people you touch can bring value and benefit to the person you are communicating with and the people they touch (and vice-versa). Those who communicate effectively win.

Yet communication is something that few of us do exceptionally well. What’s more, most of us are wingits (Whatever Is Next Gets Into The Script). We stand up or walk into an event and we wingit; whatever is next in our mind falls out of our mouth. Few of us spend time thinking about what we’re saying, why we’re say it, what others hear us say, and what that means to our bottom line.

Professionals don’t wingit. They have a script from which they are speaking. Sure they occasionally with speak off-script, however it is rare that the adlib to the script changes the context of the scene. Robin Williams is a master at improvisation. You may be too, but somehow I doubt that Williams adlibbed the lines in “Good Will Hunting” for which he won an Oscar. When it really counts professionals read, practice, try and retry; analyzing each detail of facial expression and gesture that results in a perfect performance. Anything less is left on the cutting room floor.

So what if anything does all this have to do with our “one word” offense? Plenty. Without carefully crafting a message that you know how, when and why to deliver, without carefully planning the purpose of communicating your message, without thoughtfully and strategically developing a message that will bring in the desired results you seek, you will undoubtedly utter this odious noun: Anybody.

O.K. it can be “someone, somebody, anyone” and occasionally “everyone”. How is it used? “Everyone is my target customer.” “Anyone who is looking for a house.” “Somebody who has good credit.” “Someone who uses supplements.” You get the idea.

When we make a new acquaintance or when we’re listening to an elevator pitch at a networking event, we’re engaged in a search for matches to the requests we hear. We hear that Mary is into quilting and we think of Aunt Jane. We hear that Bob is a golfer and we think of the new customer we just landed who loves golf. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we’re always trying to relate to the messages we are hearing.

When we hear the word (or variation thereof) “anybody”, we immediately lock up. The same thing happens when we try to process too much information on our computers: it’s the blue screen of death effect. We can’t possibly think of “anybody” because we’re thinking of “everybody”. It’s our job to focus attention on the specific person or persons we are looking for and the place where we might find them.

For example: I’m Bob with Widgets Unlimited. We make widgets for the widget industry. A great referral for me would be the people you play golf with on Saturday. A variation on this is to be specific when you know specifically whom you’d like to meet. Not long ago I urged the audience at one of our Leads To Business events to tell us exactly whom they’d like to meet. One attendee said she needed to meet Tyler Perry and as fate would have it, I had met someone who worked for Tyler Perry that week. If she hadn’t been specific, I wouldn’t have drawn the correlation.

Big groups are great places to obtain referrals. People want to help us. It’s our job to help them help us. When we determine exactly what we are looking for, craft and practice a message that attracts those referrals until we know it cold, and then update the message based on the results we get, we will get better results. What’s more, we’ll be seen as the professionals that we are in all the other facets of our work.

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The Emergence of the Relationship Economy features TNNWC Founder, Adam J. Kovitz as a contributing author and contains some of his early work on The Laws of Relationship Capital. The book is available in hardcopy and e-book formats. With a forward written by Doc Searls (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame), it is considered a "must read" for anyone responsible for the strategic direction of their business. If you would like to purchase your own copy, please click the image above.


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