Succeeding in influencer relations requires a skill most often associated with sales and HR: schmoozing. Don’t think for a minute that business networking is best left to the natural-born schmoozers. Most of us spend a good part of our day working with information or brainstorming on strategy or listening in on conference calls. Telecommuting is further rooting us in our time- and place-shifted comfort zones. When you think about it, there’s little wonder that one-to-one networking can feel awkward.
One of my favorite series of tips comes from Guy Kawasaki, in a post he wrote back in 2006:
1. Understand the goal: discover what you can do for the person you’re meeting.
2. Get out: schmoozing requires practice, and networking requires situations where you can meet new people.
3. Ask good questions, then shut up: the point is to spend more time listening to earnest conversation, less time talking.
4. Unveil your passions: avoid coming across as a one-dimensional poster child for your job or company.
5. Read voraciously: being well informed is a good way to contribute to any conversation.
6. Follow up: email within 24 hours.
7. Make it easy to get in touch: no point meeting people if you don’t give them your contact details.
8. Give favors: pay it forward.
9. Ask for the return of favors: let people reciprocate the favors you grant.
I was reminded of every one of these points the last time I met with Ray Wang. He wove all of these into the course of our conversation and ended with a simple (and stunning) question: “So Barbara, tell me, what can I do for you?”
You can read Guy’s entire piece here: The Art of Schmoozing.