Yesterday I came across this post on Networking and building relationships and I link this back to the Model I came across several years ago. I have repurposed the article from Matt Bilotti from Hubspot. You can view his post HERE.
All the so-called-top-tips on how to become a networker involve schmoozing it or losing it. So when I first started attending different events and conferences, I'd walk around trying to "work the room," too.
After a brief elevator pitch lacking in context and abrupt in nature, I handed out business cards like the total business gangster I thought I was. I went home with a lighter pocket of business cards and high level of excitement for all the people I'd just connected with.
I anxiously refreshed my inbox that whole week, wondering who among my new connections would email me first.
I later realized that I hadn't actually made any real connections. Although I followed all the text book advice of meeting as many people as possible, printing a full stack of business cards, and ensuring my elevator pitch was pristine ... my conversations were as good as nonexistent. Then I thought about it more in different scenarios ...
So why do we treat professional relationship building any differently?
Since then, I've adopted a targeted, six touch point networking system.
Rather than maximizing on the power of numbers, I maximize on the power of targeted connections. Before an event, I make a list of the people I want to connect with - or types of people I want to connect with. I'll follow the event hashtag, public RSVP list, or any other means of attendee discovery and figure out who to actually approach.
After that initial introduction, I ensure I continue to engage with each individual I found interesting at least six times. These touch points can be exercised in various ways -
This six touch point system came into full swing when I met Sam Smith.
I was at a conference in NYC and spotted a woman who was seemingly in charge. I figured as an organizer, she would be a valuable person to connect with. When the opportunity presented itself, I exchanged a brief conversation. I later found out that she was on a team of student VCs at the Dorm Room Fund, a student-run venture firm that invests in student-run companies. My initial gut of her importance was spot on. - Touch point one
The next day, the conference included a breakout session where each group had to work together to provide a solution to a problem. After learning more about the Dorm Room Fund the previous evening, I targeted the group Sam was in. Now we had the opportunity to converse naturally without the stress of figuring out what to discuss. - Touch point two
On the final day of the conference, I made it a point to say goodbye. I thanked her for all her work putting the event together. Although a brief moment, it was still a face-to-face interaction, reminding her of who I am. Touch point three .
After the conference, I connected with virtually by -
Two years after our first touch point, this connect paid out big time.
I found out that the Dorm Room Fund was coming to Boston (where I was residing), so I reached out to Sam for advice on how to make it on to the team. Not only was she kind enough to lend advice, she ended up being among the people interviewing me. In fact, during the interview she said something along the lines of, "I'm such a huge fan of yours!"
Turns out all the time I spent investing in my relationship with her was enough for her to take just as much interest in me in return.
When I first met Sam, I had little insight into how our relationship would benefit me in the future. But I knew I wanted her in my network. Now, I manage a team of 11 student partners for Boston's Dorm Room Fund, overseeing a $500,000 fund for student-run companies - and love every minute of it!
While I personally love my journey to joining Dorm Room Fund, this is just one story exemplifying how this six touch point strategy worked for me. I'm constantly trying to learn what email templates or connection hacks can help me continue to accelerate. So if you have any, feel free to leave them in the comments