So I went to another networking group the other night, one I’ve attended in the past. There were many familiar faces in the room. We were given a blank Bingo card and told to walk around the room and get people to sign the squares. Networking Bingo, as it were. Fun. I just love icebreakers.
So I found myself standing with a guy I’d met before – a chiropractor – and a very tall woman whom I know I have attended networking groups with before, because she has a very distinct look, and I knew as soon as I saw her that she was a speaking coach. But she was wearing a guest name tag. So I welcomed her, and said my name, and reminded her that we’d met before.
I was pretty sure that I had actually met her more than once, so I started naming groups I attend. She shook her head no. I said to her, “Do you remember seeing me stand up and say that I’m an independent college counselor?” Nope.
So I asked her what groups she attends. This Chamber. That Rotary. Nothing. Then she named the one. The one group where I had met her. The one group that met last week, for lunch on Tuesday. The one group WHERE I HAD BEEN THE FIVE-MINUTE SPEAKER THE PREVIOUS WEEK.
So here’s the thing about networking. We all do it. It’s about getting your name and your card out there. But it’s about making sure people LIKE you and WANT to refer people to you. And what makes people like you? Making people feel like, even though you are there to promote yourself, you are looking out for opportunities for them as well. Who wants to network with someone who can’t be bothered to remember what anyone else does?
So after a little bit of “oh, thank goodness we finally figured THAT out” bullshit, she moved onto the topic of my work. And then she proceeded to tell me how I could refer my clients to her. “You know,” she said, “if you have clients who are going for college interviews, I can help prepare them for that.” I told her that after 15 years of being a college interviewer, I take care of interview prep.
I left the meeting with another woman I’ve met several times – someone who was also in the room for my five-minute presentation the week before. She works for a local cemetery, helping people take care of “advanced planning” issues. She told me that the same person had informed her that she could refer HER clients to the speech coach if they wanted to deliver a stunning eulogy.