Being that I’m not a natural “Type A” personality, I’ve always seemed to do things unconventionally, networking included.
Part of my need to do things differently than the norm is that I want to be authentic and real. I don’t want people to feel like they are just the next person on my list to check off so I can move on to the next. Granted, there is a time and place for the good ol’ cold calling and such but many times there are many more clever ways to approach people that make the process of connecting feel genuine
Offer to take a contact out for a coffee, lunch, a drink, with no motive other than to get to know who they are and what they are about. Taking the time to stop and listen to their story and how they have gotten to where they are today, brings things down to a real level. More often than not, you will be the first or along with a small few who take the time to sit and listen to their story.
Another one of my favorites is to send a hand written thank you note to the people I connected with at an event. It not only brings a personal touch but it allows you to revisit your conversation with that person and highlight some of the things they mentioned that stood out to you. It shows you were listening to what they had to say.
A fantastic way to stand out is to send a thoughtful gift for someone’s birthday work anniversary or big event (make a mental note when they mention it!). There might not always be an opportunity but if you are patient and are committed to building a real relationship, it will present itself in time. It doesn’t need to be an expensive or fancy gift, just something that shows you were listening.
Make an effort to ask each of your clients for their birthday and make a reoccurring alert for each year when a birthday was coming up. People often forgot you had asked and are touched you remembered their special day. Same goes for weddings, baby arrivals, anniversaries, promotions , a new pet and so on.
Send an email to just say hi or pass on an article that you thought they’d enjoy. When every point of contact becomes a sales pitch, it doesn’t foster a solid foundation for a trusting relationship.
Really, it all comes down to making it personal, spending the time to single out people rather than firing off canned emails just to make your daily quota. These days, you need to do things that make you stand out from the crowd. Funnily enough, it’s taking a step back into the “old school” real life connecting that will do it.