Networking Tip – Behavioral Segregation And How To Be A Better Networker

At a recent networking event I attended, I was asked to share some networking tips that would help build better business relationships. My response was to help them understand how their personality and behaviors play a role in helping or hurting their ability to build relationships. The following article is a result from that inquiry.

You are also probably familiar with the saying, “People like to do business with people they know, like, and trust.” This statement is more than just an over used cliche, it’s the truth. In fact, numerous surveys have shown that nearly 100% of people believe that face-to-face meetings are essential for long-term business relationships.

On the flip side, we are also busier than ever before and going out to “NETWORK” can seem overwhelming and impossible at times, especially if we haven’t had much success in networking!

How to Fix Networking

Okay so you’re now thinking, “Okay Captain Obvious, I know this already, I just want to know if there is a solution to this problem?”

Yes there is!

Now in order to fix this “networking problem” and grow your networking organization, or if you are a networker, grow and build a business through relationships, you have to understand how your personality and behaviors get in the way of building sustainable business relationships. Don’t worry, it’s not a defect, it’s just how we are wired- to keep us safe.
After learning about this problem, you’ll be better equipped to apply “The First Principle in Networking.”

Behavioral Segregation, a “Natural” Problem

When I have trained on this topic in the past, the extroverts in the room often don’t think it applies to them. Well they’re wrong, and plus, we’re not all extroverts. Researchers estimate that almost 50% of us are not extroverts! We ALL fall into the trap of “BEHAVIORAL SEGREGATION!”

So what is behavioral segregation? Let me give you an example.

Basic human behavior works like this. You walk into a room of people and depending on if you are an extrovert or an introvert you will most likely do one of two things: 1) If you see someone you already know, you will walk up to them and start talking, or, 2) After scanning the room and not seeing anyone you know or want to talk to, you go find a place to sit…by yourself.

Either action you end up choosing is not going to help you meet new people. Basically, your behavior has impeded your ability to meet new people.

It’s also important to note that behavioral segregation gets even harder to overcome if you are someone who does meet a lot of people. The more people you know, the harder it becomes to seek out and find those you don’t know, or don’t know well, because every time you walk into a room full of people you are drawn to those you know. When this starts to happen, meeting new people is left up to chance and/or luck.

Building Your System

Depending on if you run a networking organization or if you are someone who attends networking functions will depend on what kind of system you need to develop.

As a networking group administrator, you need to create a system that helps your attendees meet new people and provides them with tools to help build, grow, and track relationships. The best way to do this is to design your networking event with specific intentions rather than specific results. Let me explain.

An intent is what you’re trying to accomplish at your event, while a result is what happens when the event ends. An example of a good intent might be, “I want my attendees to meet new people and build strong connections with those they meet.” An example of a result that gets confused with an intent would be, “I want to have the most successful networking group in town.”

By focusing on intent, you can start to look at how and what needs to be done to accomplish it. If your intentions are met, there’s a good chance you’ll get the results you want. Here’s an article that will help you get the intentions you’re looking for: How to Create the Perfect Networking Event

Other things that need to be considered in a good networking system include:

  • The ability to assign seats and keep track of who has met who and who needs to meet who
  • A way for attendees to track their relationship levels with others
  • An easy way check-in and track members and guests
  • An easy way for attendees to pay for event activities- like lunches.
  • A simple way for members to RSVP and be reminded of upcoming events (beyond email).
  • This is why we built Networkr, to provide you with these solutions, but you can use other alternatives if you wish.

If you are a networker, you need certain systems as well. Along with the ability to meet new people, you need a system that will help you grow and nurture those newly formed relationships. There are many tools out there that can help you with this (including Networkr), but your system is going to be unique to you.

Here are ten actions you might consider when creating or refining your system:

  1. Sending information to your contacts that would benefit them personally or professionally (not asking for referrals or a sale).
  2. Setting aside time regularly to reach out to contacts to see how they are doing, not just when you need something from them.
  3. Making the people in your network feel valued as friends (this would be followed up with a list of specific ways to do this).
  4. You research the needs of your contacts and work to fill them.
  5. You are aware of the “big events” in your contacts’ lives.
  6. You have a list of contacts and record the last time you communicated with them.
  7. You find people in your network who could benefit from each other and help introduce them to each other.
  8. You follow-up quickly when asked for help by others.
  9. You reach out unexpectedly – not just on holidays or birthdays.
  10. You work to reconnect with people you haven’t seen in a few months.

In conclusion, I want to leave you something I learned from Gary Vaynerchuk. In blog post titled “How to Sell,” Gary relays this golden piece of advice:

Real relationships take real time. You’re going to have to spend hours trying to interact, engage, and provide value in order to win… It’s your emotional intelligence and tact and unscalable human effort is what takes you home.

I think that sums it up well. Building relationships takes time and hard work, but the payoff is going to be worth it.