How to Network with Dream Connections - Rule #2
Have you ever gone fly fishing? I personally haven't, so this is built largely from
reading the works of people who do it all the time. But it's a good figure of speech.
My Boring Fishing Story
The only entertaining story I have about fishing is that I never caught a single
fish, until I took my kids to a trout farm in Oregon back in 2016. By that
time, I could attest to having survived two tours of duty in Iraq, living in five different
countries and over 10 years of marriage to one woman ... but I'd never caught a fish.
There. That's my story. Some of you don't want to learn things unless you hear
stories first, so now you've had your story, let's talk networking strategy.
First off, always remember Rule #1: Focus on the Farm Team.
That means whatever you read below this line, you will be much better prepared
to use with a dream connection if you practice on people you already know.
So practice this on the people walking alongside you in pursuit of success.
Be An Angler
Most people would get a "passing grade" on this rule, because most people observe it
at a basic level. It's not common to go to a business function FILLED with pushy
salespeople. The pushy guys are usually in a minority, but Being An Angler can't be
defined by what one is not ... it must be defined by who you choose to be.
If you were going to compare the average professional to a fisherman, this
is the best description I've found to show how they go about networking:
Yeah, no. That won't cut the mustard, because networking with dream connections
is about Being An Angler. Anglers don't fish with their eyes closed, and they don't sit
on piers or bridges with lines just dangling into the water. In fact, as I've heard it said,
fly fishermen become experts at "tricking" the fish by making the fly bait appear to be
hovering over the surface of the water. They're good at casting the rod at an angle
that causes the line and the bait to mimic the real-life flight patterns of an insect.
Okay, So What's the Business Application?
The worst assumption to make is that people attend social functions
to transact business. Unless you're the bartender or the venue hall,
leave your card swipe and receipt books at home. People attend for
business reasons, but that's not the same as writing checks.
Find the Angle
If you're going to be a "fly fisherman networker," you must avoid "appearing"
as a networker. Oh, you might look like one when you first show up. But it's
when you open your mouth that people say, "Now that's different. I've not
been asked that before," or "Wow, he didn't say a word about what he does."
There can only be so many reasons why people go to these events.
It's easy enough to guess with ordinary business owners and sales/marketing
professionals. They know, subconsciously, that the success and growth of their
business depend heavily on meeting and interacting positively with more people.
With high performers and prominent citizens, you simply need to scale the magnitude.
It's unlikely, for example, that you can single-handedly leverage the price tag of what
their companies produce or provide. But that shouldn't preclude you from being the
connection for people who can. Not even in the COVID-19 era, where large
gatherings have been "prohibited." One of the most successful examples of this
for me came in the last two months. It took place entirely online and via Zoom chat.
Last November, I opened Season 2 of Influencer Networking Secrets by interviewing
Safwan Shah, CEO of PayActiv. It was a mic-drop interview, and Safwan did a great
job. I knew at some point I'd have an opportunity to connect him to someone, I just
didn't yet know who it would be. But I knew what to do once I found them.
Then I started writing freelance for Bill Sturm, COO of Rausch Sturm. They are one
of the largest debt collection firms in the United States. Needless to say, they spend
their time pursuing many people who have difficulty paying their debts, mainly
because of an antiquated paycheck system that withholds compensation from
employees until two weeks after they've rendered their services.
Safwan's company developed the app that is ripping that fossil system to shreds,
allowing employees to access portions of their pay the same day they earn it.
So ... one executive trying to free up that money so people can pay their bills,
and another trying to get them to pay bills. Do you see the natural synergy?
Out of respect for these two incredible men, I'll leave it to your imagination how
well the phone call went. The point is, I didn't call either man for money. There was
no need to, and they wouldn't have given it to me anyway. I didn't try to sell one on
the other ... I just broached the idea that they should talk. And boy, did they ever.
A little plug for in-depth networking tools like podcasting or visually promoting
other professionals: unlike a networking group, where so much interaction
occurs that you can lose track of people or have them "slip through the cracks,"
one-on-one networking gives you clarity. You can vaguely assert that you've
"monetized networking," but in the case of podcasting, you don't have to
wonder whether or not you're earning from it.
But no matter the setting, your advantage comes from being able to
"stand out," to the right people in a room. And you will be able to do this
with much greater confidence and finesse when you learn to think like a
copywriter, and project a keen interest in others that they perceive as a
supernatural ability to read their minds.
So, Rule #2 for Networking with Dream Connections is Be An Angler.