Quick one today, but wanted to share. This is a fantastic “how to do it” on networking – please share if by any chance (!) you know anyone who could stand to learn more of what to do and less of what not to do.
A few months ago a long time friend of mine sent me a note saying an associate of his was moving to my city and he’d appreciate it if I’d meet with her as she was getting her feet on the ground. (Lesson 1 – have a mutual contact pave the way).
Of course I agreed. The individual reached out by email and asked what day/time and where would be convenient for me. (Lesson 2 – make it easy).
We met. She was a couple of minutes early, had a clear agenda, stayed within our agreed time and concluded with an inquiry as to how she might be of assistance to me. (Lesson 3 – well, there’s a lot in this one but let’s just summarize it as “have good manners.”)
She followed up with – wait for it – a HANDWRITTEN thank you note, mailed the old-fashioned way. (Lesson 4 – make an effort to make it clear that the time was appreciated).
Scroll ahead a few months and I heard from her again, with another request to meet. While I’m naturally inclined to be helpful, I have had enough experience with people “picking my brain” for free that I was not comfortable with what she requested, so I offered some alternatives that would work for me. She quickly responded with an acknowledgment that perhaps she’d asked too much and an agreement to accept slightly less than I had offered – plus a commitment to pay for my services going forward. (Lesson 5 – be respectful and stay within the identified limits).
My role in this is also noteworthy, I believe, in that I made it clear what I would and would not do, and when I agreed I was as helpful and generous as I could be. I had to be clear on my own boundaries and as long as I stayed within them I was happy to help. It did help her, and I know it was appreciated by the friend who made the original introduction.
For more on building your own network, check out Chapter 7 in my book, The Complete Executive. For coaches and other professionals who want to learn about how to enrol great clients, check out The Prosperous Coach by Rich Litvin and Steve Chandler.