You really can meet and get to know anyone. Old-school networking has tarnished relationship building and given it a bad name. The old days of throwing a card in the hand of someone you’ve known for all of 30 seconds is long gone. The only place that card will end up is in the trash.
The new-school way of networking is more like marriage. When you first meet a girl, you don’t ask her to marry you (except in the rarest of circumstances of course). You have to court the relationship with meals, movies, and long walks through the park. Staying top-of-mind is imperative. Try going for long periods of time and most girls will give up.
Being in her face is the exact opposite and it doesn’t work either. Calling too much or dropping by unexpected is a recipe for disaster.
Follow along as I take you through a three-step process for meeting and networking with anyone. I’m going to assume you’ve never even met the person you want to network with.
Step 1: Send a Letter
You read it right; that headline does not say send an email. Think about it; when is the last time you received an old fashioned letter in the mail? It could have been handwritten or typed, but if it had a stamp on it, you were excited. You were ever more excited and quick to open it if there was something inside.
Bypass the gatekeeper by getting a name and sending your letter directly to the person you want to talk to. Keep your letter short and make it about them and their company. Avoid talking much (or any) about you.
Tell him how impressed you are with him and his company. Be sincere; sucking up can even be sensed through the mail. You might mention how you’ve envied the companies growth over the past 12 months or how amazed you’ve been at what he’s accomplished since taking their position.
Flattery helps, but if you’re not authentic, you’ve blown it.
Hint at better things to come and that you’d eventually like to talk with him. Keep it low-key though and don’t seem needy. Be sure to stay in the driver’s seat and tell him what comes next. Under no circumstances should you say “I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest possible convenience.” Trust me, you won’t hear from him. Instead, promise to send another note within a week or two.
Step 2: Send a Letter
Again, not a typo. Your second step is to send another letter. In this one you’ll be a bit more direct and to the point. Give some background on you and how you think you may be able to help them or their company. Don’t go into too many details in this one. Leave them curious and wanting just a little bit more.
Top-of-mind is what we’re going for. You just can’t ignore two letters or packages sent from the same person within a few weeks of each other. If you can provide something helpful like a book, article, or other resource, you might become his best friend. You need to be in the mindset of helping him and not worrying as much about what you’re going to get from the relationship.
At the end of the letter you still need to be in the driver’s seat. Tell him to expect your call next Thursday at 9:30 am.
This next step is very important and it’s where most people will blow it.
Step 3: Phone Call
You just told him you’d call on Thursday at 9:30 am. If you don’t follow through now you’ll risk losing every bit of rapport you worked so hard to build. Yeah, I know it’s scary, but so is living a life of mediocrity. Get your hand off the mouse and pick up your phone.
If the gatekeeper asks if he’s expecting your call, make sure you say yes. After all, you told him to expect the call in your last letter.
When you get through to him, he’ll almost feel like he knows you. You’ve sent a few letters or packages and told him you’d be calling. He was probably wondering if you’d follow through. Most people don’t bother to build a relationship before asking for something. But not you. You’re in this for the long run, and not just the quick sale.
What if he’s not there you ask? Leave a message. It’s tempting to leave out the day and time you’re going to call, but don’t do it. You’re guessing on whether or not he’ll be there anyway, so just guess and get on with it.
Two letters and a phone call. Simple. Effective.
What is your go-to networking process?