Carrie Perrien Smith interview – entrepreneur and success coach
Carrie Perrien Smith, MBA is an entrepreneur and success coach. She helps people get more opportunities, bigger paydays, and sweeter success. Her most recent book is Currency: Striking Networking Gold in a Relationship Economy.
Josh Hinds: How do you define Business Networking and why do you feel it is important?
Carrie Perrien Smith: Networking in general is important on so many levels. People cross our paths for a reason and we don’t always know why — for years sometimes. The human race was meant to interact and interconnect. I define networking as the activity of interacting and interconnecting with others. We can’t ever serve something bigger than ourselves if we aren’t engaging with other people. When diligently building a network that serves others as well as yourself, your ability to serve others quickly becomes part of your personal brand.
In business, people are more likely to refer and do business with people they know well. And in today’s tough job market, an estimated 80% of jobs are filled via networking connections.
Josh Hinds: Can you share some ideas which someone could put into practice that would help them to improve their business networking skills?
Carrie Perrien Smith: Begin with the understanding that you should build your network before you need it. It is a project worthy of your best strategic intention. And at the end of the day, make your mission to give more than you receive. Giving leads and making quality referrals is the best way to give and it costs you nothing. It’s also a great way to be memorable. People want to help people that help them.
Really evaluate who you know and who you need to know to serve yourself, your organization, and people you know. Next, figure out where those people are and then, go there. It might be association meetings, chamber of commerce socials, or charity activities.
You need a solid 60-second commercial. In reality, you need enough thoughtfully crafted information to weave into a conversation. Some situations present an opportunity to have 60 uninterrupted seconds to present yourself to a group. However, the real idea in everyday situations is to only give them enough to make them ask, “Really. Tell me more about that.” You can download a template for a 60-second commercial here. There is one for business owners and sales professionals and another for job searchers.
Josh Hinds: With following-up with the people we meet being so important, can you share some creative ways someone can follow-up which will lead to being remembered in a positive way?
Carrie Perrien Smith: People don’t always need us or know why they need us the first time they meet us. They may never need us but someday, someone they know may need someone like us and ask them for a referral. Life is busy and people forget they met us. We make adjustments in our business and often forget to tell people we already know — especially close friends and family members. We have to maintain top-of-mind awareness. Here are three of my favorite ways to stay in front of people:
– Social networking: I have hired several people this year who I would have forgotten I knew if it hadn’t have been for Twitter or Facebook. Connect to people you meet on whatever social media tool that is appropriate. You may find that one person is only on Facebook or Plaxo and not using LinkedIn or Twitter.
Post quality information about what you are doing for clients or an occasional blog post you’ve written that showcases your expertise. Remember to interact with others and be personal daily. Social media tools are not as effective for people who use them to spew marketing messages. Don’t be excessive in your frequency of posts or people will mute, unfriend, or unfollow you. And by the way, people know when someone else is posting for you. Outsource some if you must but it’s best to post something yourself at least once a day.
– Go public: People need to connect face-to-face to successfully engage in deep, two-way conversations and build trust. They can’t do that from behind a computer. Don’t just attend organized networking events — turn everything into a networking event. If you have the right skills to lead conversation, you can work a room even when it’s your child’s baseball game or a family reunion. You can download a template for making meaningful conversation at this link.
– Build a permission database and e-mail them occasionally with an article you’ve written or tell them about something exciting that is going on in your company. Ideally, you want to give people the chance to opt in to your e-mail list but there is no problem with e-mailing someone once and telling them about your e-mail newsletter. Make sure you are offering something of value and not just spewing a marketing message at them. It drives traffic to your website when you link to something on your website. I put a brief article introduction in the e-mail and then make them go to the website to read the rest of it. And remember, your social media connections on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other tools can also be considered your permission database, so remember to post the same info on your social media posts.
Josh Hinds: How do you encourage referrals from your network?
Carrie Perrien Smith: Make meaningful conversation as often as you can. Ask enough questions about what people are doing to find out about who they are connected to and what they are working on. When you find out someone could be connected to a project you could assist with, let them know that you could help and mention that would be a good lead for you. If you have a level of trust established with that person, ask them to introduce you to a key decision maker involved with the project.
Learn to paint the picture of the ideal lead for you and who you do your best work for. If you can’t articulate that, people will never be able to visualize who that ideal lead is for you. Teach them how to help you.
Josh Hinds: Is there anything else you would like to share that would be beneficial to building better professional connections?
Carrie Perrien Smith: Once you get that all-important referral, follow-up quickly and provide excellent service and value. Botch that referral and you’ll never get another one. Do a great job, and you’ll make the person who trusted you with that referral look like a hero.
I have other free articles on my website. I go even deeper on the topic of business networking in my book called Currency: Striking Networking Gold in a Relationship Economy. There is a special offer that I put together for a group of job searchers that I recently spoke to available here.
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