Our "Guest Blogger Friday" writer this week is Steve Harper, author of The Ripple Effect. Steve is a successful entrepreneur, writer, business consultant, blogger and all around good guy. I am honored to have him as my friend, and my second "guest blogger". You can find more information about Steve and his book at www.therippleeffectbook.com.
By Steve Harper
I appreciate Thom asking me to participate as this week’s guest BLOGGER. I am thrilled to do it!
I recently completed a talk for a financial services company in which one of the main principals asked me, “how can I turn a casual networking connection into something more?” It’s a great question!
My advice is really quite simple. Take the time, to make the time spent with a casual connection more meaningful. How do we do this? Set yourself apart from the rest of the pack!
Most business people don’t do anything more than surface hits. What I mean by that is they meet someone at an event, they have a brief verbal exchange and conclude it with the customary “so do you have a business card.” For 90% of business people that’s where it ends. The card is forever lost or only will be resurrected to prove to the boss or spouse that you actually attended the event.
If you really want to be different and make an impression, show the person how appreciative you are to have met them. Take the time to invest in some nice stationary and a good pen. Immediately following the event, within a day, sit down and write out a brief note of appreciation for the time they spent with you. Personalize it by recalling something that was said or something that was done at the event to let the person know you were really participating in the moment with them.
I recently attended a networking function where I met a VP of a local bank. During the course of our conversation he mentioned that he was likely in trouble with his son. It seems the event was being held right in the middle of his son’s baseball game and though he hated to miss it, the President of the bank had insisted he attend. I asked him casually about his son, age, team name, etc.. I turned that casual conversation into a meaningful moment because I showed sincere and genuine interest in him and his family.
Upon returning home that evening, I immediately took out his business card, penned a “nice to meet you note” and attached two discount coupons for Chuck E. Cheese with a brief note that hopefully this might help him get out of the dog house with his son. Within two days I had received a call back from him thanking me for the great gesture and just how shocked and impressed he was to receive my note and the coupons.
Now I don’t want you to think I manipulated the situation to better my chances of getting business with him. In fact, what I do has no barring on what this man does with the bank so the likelihood of us ever doing any direct business together is slim to none. However, as a VP of a well known bank, the opportunities that might flow through him and because of my sincere effort is very real. At the very least, I know that I now have made a meaningful connection with a pretty high ranking VP of a bank and that isn’t such a bad thing.
Now I know what some of you might say, why expend the effort when you don’t have any recognizable opportunity. That’s where you can really set yourself apart from the rest of the heard. Most people would see a situation like that and simply gloss over or outright ignore it because this “contact” wouldn’t prove directly valuable.
My contention is everyone you meet has the potential to enhance your life; personally or professionally. Taking the time to find a unique way to connect can open doors of opportunity that otherwise will remain closed to others.
Doing simple things like a prompt handwritten note with a heartfelt sentiment for the time spent is something that is completely out of the norm. Email doesn’t do it! A handwritten note shows a level of class and sophistication that has in large part been lost in the business world today.
Taking the time to contact the person on the phone following the event to just express how much you enjoyed meeting them and thanking them for taking the time to chat with you can go a long way too. Too often business people do the follow up phone call but do it purely for selfish reasons. “Hey Chuck it was great meeting you at the event last week. Listen, I want to tell you a little bit more about what I do in hopes of working with you.” Blah, blah, blah…Chuck and I could care less about what you do at that point. There is no sentiment only motivation to sell me something. Not a good impression!
Think about the last time you got a phone call from someone just because they were thinking about you. How did that make you feel? Business professionals are not impervious to feeling good. Take the time out of your day to simply call and say “It was great meeting you. I enjoyed our chat. I hope our paths cross again soon.” Talk about making an impact!
Impressionable impressions come in all forms. They have to be sincere, they have to have no agenda and they have to show you for the person that you are…not the person who sells this or promotes that.
Take a moment and look at the people you have crossed paths with in the past week. Sit down and ask yourself, “What can I do to make a favorable impression on this person.” Whether that’s a phone call, handwritten note or special delivery box of chocolates, do something! Trust me, just by doing something you will likely make an impression that will pay off for you in the future.
Thanks Steve for a making today's post a great "Guest Blogger Friday"
Have A Great Day.