I love James Bond. He’s awesome.
I’m not a particularly good networker.
James Bond to the rescue.
Here’s how I think 007 would network (apart from drinking lots of martinis and looking stern):
1. Look the part. If you’re making a big entrance at a casino and you’re looking to catch the attention of a criminal mastermind, then you wear a sharp tuxedo, drink martinis, and bet big. The same holds true if you’re wanting to make an impact at a business networking event. Whether it’s a corporate thing when you’re pulling out a slick suit, or it’s something a bit more creative or advertising related when you need to look fashion-forward, make sure that what you’re wearing and how you’re presenting yourself creates the impression that you want. First impressions count for a lot.
2. Plan ahead. You need to know what your mission is – otherwise you have no idea whether all of the running around, jumping off trains, and drinking dry martinis is saving the world or not. There is little point rocking into a networking event if you don’t know who will be there or what you’re trying to achieve – you might get lucky, but you could be at the wrong event altogether. Draw up a list of who are the people or organizations that you wand to speak with or do business with. Develop a strategy for each one on how to establish and build the relationship that you’re looking for. Keep a track of the progress you are making on each one.
3. Use your resources wisely. If you only have two bullets left you are going to save them for when you absolutely need to shoot. If you’re thinking about using networking to enhance your business opportunities, a scatter-gun approach may yield some results but it’s also likely to result in a lot of wasted time and effort. Use precision and select your targets carefully – you have a lot of competing priorities to juggle so make sure that the time that you allocate to networking is used as effectively and efficiently as possible.
4. Follow-through. Once you’ve cracked the code and captured the criminal mastermind, you would look a bit of a fool if you just shook hands and let them walk out the door. The same rule applies for business networking. If you’ve made contact with one of your targets, don’t sit back an wait for them to make the next move – most likely they’re busy and may not realize the urgency of the opportunity that you have presented. Follow up with an email, arrange a follow-up meeting, updated your plan and think about what you can do next to progress and deepen the relationship you’ve established.
I’ll take that martini now thanks – shaken, not stirred.