Reading time: 5 min
Here are the main points I learned and rules I still apply on a daily basis.
I wrote in a Previous Article here how networking is a crucial tool for anyone. In an industry with a strong Community, it might be the only way to get out of the crowd. Meeting people help to develop a professional and personal network that could lead to business but not only, it also open doors for partnerships, promotion association, information sharing, friendship, support, introduction and more. Besides, the smaller the niche the more important it is to get to know everyone personally.
2. Never say anything negative
It is a rule that I carefully apply in my daily life. French people have the reputation to complain a lot and that is not entirely false. ’Never say anything negative or complain’ appears in many articles and books about personal interactions but it becomes crucial when you’re working in a Tight Community. As everyone knows each other, you can’t afford to say anything negative about another company or person, even about your direct competitor.
That doesn’t mean we have to be a hypocrite and lie to each other but better criticise with tact and precautions. Giving a feedback on how to improve an event or asking questions to raise some issues will always be smoother than being upfront and take the risk to hurt people.
3. Make friends, not a list of prospects
Yes, it is important to keep your goals in minds when meeting people… and it’s even more important to be open and make friends. When working in a market driven by a tight community, we’re seing again and again the same faces. So there is no point to repeat the same pitch and sales presentation over. If the people we met were not interested in our product or services, talking about it non-stop won’t change their needs but being friends and helping each other will definitely create connections that could lead to future opportunities.
Your new friends might not be your next clients but they will for sure let you know if they meet anyone interested in you and will introduce you to their contacts.
4. Give first
In a community, if everyone is waiting for others to make the first move nothing is going to happen. That’s why there is no time for being shy or afraid of giving first. A quick heads up such as an introduction to someone, key information or last minute help to a friend company doesn’t cost lots of time and can have a great impact.
Giving up some time or sharing information will help someone (thumbs up 👍 for your good action) but also help you build a trustful reputation based on your actions and not only on your words.
5. Remember Everything is personal
In the corporate world, sometimes we can accept some incorrect behaviour or last minute change because of a pressing hierarchy or a risk advert boss. When working in a startup, a niche market and/or a community, we can’t use such justifications. Our own decisions have an impact and if someone in the team does something that is not appreciated, it’s the whole team reputation that will be depreciated.
In front of us are real people and even when you have a big company behind you, if people don’t enjoy working with you, you won’t be able to close exciting deals. It’s essential to always remember it’s a matter of people, not businesses. I saw a few companies with interesting deals and ideas pushed out because they weren’t treating others well and the word spread quickly in the community.
“Giving a feedback on how to improve an event or asking questions to raise some issues will always be smoother than being upfront and take the risk to hurt people. “
—— Somme tools to help you meet and be part of your community ——
Meetup is a great website to find events in your niche and identify the key actors (events organisers and recurrent speakers). It can also be a tool to follow up after events but I always prefer to switch to direct emails at some point so you can share all your contacts details and social media profiles in the signature. Besides, lots of people (including me) don’t allow notifications from meetup.com and won’t receive your follow up messages before their next connection.
- Facebook groups
A few years ago I wasn’t into Facebook at all. I was sharing a few things for my family to keep up to date with my travel journey (when I was in the US for example) or to work on group projects during my studies.
I couldn’t say if it was my call to dig further into Facebook use for business or if Facebook groups became more professionals. Today this is a powerful tool for anyone who wants to join a community, has questions or is looking for events news.
- Social media
Social networks are a great way to keep in touch with people in your industry. Identify influencers and follow them on they favourite social networks to keep up to date with the latest news. Then, imitate your most inspiring favourite influencers by sharing similar news, being part of live chats or interacting with your peers.
Same for your profiles. Your social medias profiles are your online business cards, not only LinkedIn but all your social medias. Once again take some inspiration from influencers and be sure to have a professional and memorable complete profiles on all your social media.
Again I already mentioned it in my previous article about networking here, but I insist because it’s really essential to follow up after meeting new people and then to keep regularly in touch. Be sure to have a complete signature that links to your personal and professional websites, social profiles … And why not include your latest company’s news such a the latest award won or the next event to meet your team.