By Gino Blefari
This week my travels find me in Northern California. On Monday, I met with technology experts who are helping our organization tackle the complexities and subtleties of putting together an effective technology plan. In a world driven by technology and competition, it’s important for non-biased experts to recommend a path forward for our company. They examined what we’re doing without agenda or predisposition and we were able to have constructive conversations. The combination of business and technology is an art rather than a science and having the right people in the room allowed for creative collaboration to flourish.
After the IT meeting, I met with John Meesseman, president of Real Living Kee Realty and his leadership team via a virtual presentation. Though the meeting was digital, it still provided a chance for me to connect with John and his team members as we worked together to achieve their Wildly Important Goals.
Today, I continued the theme of connecting at Intero Real Estate Services’ San Carlos office Holiday Toy Drive. Every toy donated helped support St. Anthony’s Padua Dining Room, a food kitchen in San Mateo County. I was able to connect with agents, managers, leadership team members and staff as we worked together to give back to the community.
Holiday parties and events can actually provide some of the best networking opportunities of the year. The crowd is in a festive, jolly mood. Everyone is in the spirit of giving and overall, you can strengthen connections and forge new ones to help your business grow. It’s true everyone understands the importance of building relationships, but the power of connection can never be underestimated. The concept of connecting helped me early in my career. Long-lasting connections were brought about by an understanding of the image I must portray, the handshake I must use, the first impression I must make, the attire I must wear, the confidence I must exude … all the elements that go into creating connections that will last.
For today’s post, I want to provide a few reminders about ways to connect this holiday season, even though some of them you probably already know. Samuel Johnson once said: “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed. And Stephen R. Covey, best-selling author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” said the same message a bit differently: “To know and not to do is really not to know.”
In the spirit of doing, here are some ideas:
Ask “other focused” questions and listen. Connecting is much more about listening than it is about speaking. When you do speak, ask thoughtful questions focused on your conversational counterpart to build personal rapport. Another simple but effective technique is to simply ask: “How can I help you achieve your goals next year?”
Go beyond business. In a Forbes article about holiday networking, author Nancy Collamer suggests asking about hobbies or interests. You’ll discover commonalities and you might even learn something new.
Get social. The classic exchange of business cards is always a good way to receive contact information but it’s important to get social, too. Suggest connecting on LinkedIn or exchange Instagram handles. You’ll be able to learn more information about your colleagues from their social media profiles and they’ll learn more about you.
Leverage your connections to make new ones. Some of the best introductions happen from those you know. If you see a friend or colleague speaking with someone you’d like to meet, ask him or her to introduce you. This tip is also reciprocal; if a colleague asks for an introduction, give it – and make sure you include thoughtful, value-add information about what makes him or her unique.
Maintain a positive mindset. Smile. Be confident and exude positivity. A good attitude is infectious, and people want to be around those who make them feel even better. (Remember, nobody wants to do business with someone in a grumpy mood.) When your mindset and overall vibe is positive, others can’t help but be positive, too.
Set goals. Just as you have a system of execution for your long-term goals, you should also set goals for your holiday networking efforts. Determine two to three Wildly Important Goals; these might include: collecting 10 business cards, sending 15 follow-up emails to those you’ve met or maybe even introducing yourself to five people you’ve never spoken with before. Use the classic formula (from X to Y by when) and execute!
Share your knowledge. Connection is a give and take; you listen and learn then impart knowledge when appropriate. For instance, in response to last week’s Thoughts on Leadership post, Ron Silva, REALTOR® with Guarantee Real Estate, wished me a happy “Red Friday.” He explained that RED stands for Remember Everyone Deployed and to commemorate, Ron encourages people to wear red each Friday to support our troops past, present and future. It was an interesting piece of information, and one I’m happy to share.
So, what’s the message? There’s no better time of year to connect than during the holiday season. You can get in touch with past clients, wish happy holidays to prospective clients and put yourself in fun and festive situations where you’ll network to connect even more. Because connecting now is a professional pledge for the future, ensuring your 2020 will be a year that’s merry and bright.