By Catherine Lang-Cline
People think that you need to be very aggressive to properly network. What networking really is, is building relationships, but there are some characteristics we could adopt from one of the most aggressive creatures on the planet to produce some very effective networking, I am talking about the great white shark. In honor of “Shark Week,” here is what we can learn from these bold creatures:
Sharks work alone.
This is almost always true, but sometimes they work in teams. Networking works the same way, you throw yourself into a room full of people, alone or with a partner and start “swimming” around the room, looking for prey or comparing yourself to other sharks. With this in mind, walk in and take a quick pass around the room. Greet those you know and ask them if they know other people in the room, have them introduce you. Work in teams to change a conversation from a cold introduction to a warm one.
Sharks are intelligent, curious, and learn quickly.
Always have intelligent conversation when meeting people, first impressions are key. Then put yourself on hold for a bit and ask your new friend some questions. Ask about where they work, how they like it, what is their biggest struggle? Listen and learn quickly how you or your company could be of help. People love helpers and they will be more receptive to continue a conversation with you if they know it will be of some benefit to them.
Sharks have 500-pound livers.
Yes, the great white shark typically has a liver that weighs around 500 pounds, allowing it to go months without eating. Worth mentioning that networking events have alcohol and rather than always accepting the alcohol, you can preserve your liver and have water. Sharks like water. Also, keep in mind that you might also go extended periods of time without getting a “bite.” I would recommend really being strategic when it comes to the events you go to. Think about where your potential clients might be AND the events that have the people that know the people you want to meet. Chambers and rotaries have events that cover a wide range of businesses for a more broad reach, but you may find events that host people in the field you wish to target, just keep going and don’t get discouraged.
Sharks are relentless.
Definitely not saying to grab onto a potential client and shake them until they will work with you, that is a bad thing. Being relentless, when you know you can help someone, is not a bad thing. In most cases, the person you are connecting with does not have an immediate need. What you can do while you are patiently waiting, is to see if they know anyone else that could need their help. Think if there is another way to help them, a person you can connect them with, a book or restaurant you could recommend, be more than “the taker.” Be the “giver.” Join a board or committee in your area of expertise. Not only will it make you feel good, but people will remember you. Also, keep at it. Timing is everything and you want to be there when they need you.
Sharks like tropical and subtropical temperatures.
Who doesn’t? Vacation is the payoff for all of this hard work.
Networking like a shark may help you feel a little more powerful in the room. It may help you not give up on that client you know that you can help. It may make you feel pretty cool, too.
Keep refilling that business card holder, shake a lot of hands, and happy hunting!