Friday, October 14, 2005

Guest Blogger Friday - Liz Ryan

If it is Friday....then it must be: "Guest Blogger Friday". Today we have a wonderful piece by Liz Ryan. Liz is the CEO and founder of WorldWIT, the world's largest online network for professional women. She was a corporate HR VP for twenty years before co-founding home networking startup Ucentric Systems (now a division of Motorola) and launching WorldWIT in 1999. Liz is the online workplace columnist for Business Week and a frequent commentator on CNN, MSNBC and other national broadcast outlets. Liz lives in Boulder, Colorado with her
husband and five children. (yes, that says FIVE children!!!)

By Liz Ryan

You already know that networking for leads is essential to growing your business. You know that developing and maintaining contacts is fundamental. You know that getting the word out about your capabilities is the key to launching new client relationships.

So far, so good. But way, way too many entrepreneurs and service providers are stuck in the mode that I call "This Minute Networking". That's the one where you introduce yourself to a stranger at a networking event, describe your business, chat for a few minutes, and leave the interaction dejected if your new acquaintance doesn't seem to have a sales lead for you. What, you can't help me This Very Minute? Should I continue listing the many services my firm provides, to help you think of somebody whom I should call?It's a funny thing to see this behavior repeated so often, because it never happened in old-fashioned networking - the kind where we checked in with and relied upon trusted friends and colleagues to see what had changed in their lives and fill them in on what's new in ours - hoping that in some of these synch-up conversations, opportunities for one or both of us would emerge. We never expected these long-term contacts to be able to produce a lead for us on the spot. So why would we expect that our new-found friends would be able to do that?

But I don't do that, you are saying to yourself. I meet people and chat with them, help to understand what I do and vice versa, and agree to keep in touch. I am positive that is true. But haven't you met, at least a million times, people who ask you "Do you know anyone who might need these kinds of services?" or "Could I send you a brochure?" What these folks miss is that the range of your business services is probably the least interesting thing about you. After all, most of our businesses, as we describe them, are not all that earth-shaking. You're not trying to connect with a new person on the level of "hear about my business, and keep it in mind." That's backwards. You want the person you are meeting for the first time to say, "That Ellen - she is so interesting. I'd love to keep in touch with her. I didn't grasp exactly what she does professionally - something about software development - but I'd love to have her as a contact." Then there is glue. Then you'll remain in this person's consciousness, and when anything that remotely smells like software development opportunities comes across her desk, she'll call you - gladly.

The thing about business development networking is that it's about the people you meet and the connections - intangible but sticky as hell, in the best cases - that you establish with them. That's the thing that you want to accomplish Right This Minute. Your range of business services, your credentials, your client list - all of that can wait. To capture a share of this person's brain, to get some of his or her busy neurons firing in the direction of you and the new friendship you're establishing - that's the brass ring.

Meeting new people at networking events or on-line is the Johnny Appleseed phase of business development. Have patience and focus on the wonderfulness of the individuals you meet - and believe me, those apples will follow.

Thanks, Liz, for a great guest blog.

Attention readers: We are looking for next week's "Guest Blogger Friday" article. It could be you!!! send me an email if you are interested.

Have A Great Day

Thom Singer

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