There’s a saying: If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room.
As part of a growing business, it’s our job to build our network; we want to learn more, know more and meet more people. If we are the smartest people in the room, then we’re not learning. Every day, it’s our responsibility to absorb as much information as we can about the people and the world around us. While we’ve worked hard to gain the experience, insight and education we have, we’re never done learning and are always wanting to know more.
Build a network.
It’s not easy, we get it. You’re at a networking event, standing in a room full of people you don’t know. Who starts the conversation first? What should be the introduction line? What if they don’t want to talk? It’s like going on a first date.
The thing to keep in mind is often times, that other person—or group of people—are just as nervous as you are. Take a chance and walk up to that person, introduce yourself and say what business you’re with. Start the conversation. More often than not, the person will respond, “Oh, what is it you do?” And BOOM, the conversation begins.
Here’s a very, very important tip: Listen to another person and ask questions, just as much as you speak to them. Make it a balanced conversation and not all about you. At the end of the conversation, get that person’s business card. If you forget to get the card, there’s always LinkedIn. Look them up and stay in touch over coffee or lunch.
This is just one way to build a network; there’s also researching the people you would like to meet and connect with using LinkedIn, social media and more. Once you’ve found that person or people, commit to sending an email and explain who you are, what you do and what’d you’d like to learn more about through them. Explain what you can share with them, too.
As you make your connections and build your network, there are three buckets you’ll want to consider: operational, personal and strategic.
Is the person you want to meet going to help you understand how to get your work done more efficiently and help you to function better? If so, place them in your “operational” bucket. If they’re someone that can help you to build upon your personal and professional development, they go into the “personal” bucket. Lastly, if it’s someone who can help you or your business figure out future objectives and how to create milestones to reach those objectives, they’re “strategic.”
Try to fit at least two to five people in each of these buckets, and rest assured, you are on your way to building a powerful—and broad—network. But just like anything, it takes time and commitment; so be sure to commit to the necessary steps to building your network.