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Making the right connections in business

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At some point in your career, you were probably told “You have to meet the right people.” But how do you know who the right people are and how do you get them to notice you? As much as you want to know them, it is more important for them to know you. So how do you do that?{{more}}

Who are the right people? We often think that the right people are those who are rich and powerful, because we are fascinated and intrigued by them. To some extent that is true; it couldn’t hurt to get to know someone, or even a few individuals who fit that bill, but they are not always the right people. The right people are the ones who are willing to help you achieve your goals, teach you something new, share their experiences, open doors for you or just support you and cheer you on in your endeavours. Too often we find people who we think are right because they possess the skills and information we need and have a very high profile in society, but they are not willing to assist you.

How do you meet the right people? There is a theory that says we are all six degrees away from the person you want to meet. Basically that means it will take approximately six connections or six people to help you get to your target. The best way to meet anyone is through a referral. When friends and respected colleagues recommend someone, we all tend to be a little nicer and go the extra mile because we trust the judgment of our colleagues. If you do not have someone to refer you, then it is critical that you do your homework and learn as much about that person and their business before approaching them. Speak with confidence and be very clear, concise and sincere, as they will decide within a few seconds how to respond to you. Don’t fall into the trap of trying extra hard to impress and flatter the person. This is a process; it may take some time or it can happen instantly when you least expect it, but be prepared. Once you have decided whom you want to meet, you will be amazed at the opportunities that will present themselves if you are persistent.

Keeping the connection alive. Once you’ve met the right people, it’s imperative to keep the connection alive, and that is your responsibility. Invite the person to a short meeting over coffee/tea, or even a lunch. Ask their opinion on projects or goals you are working on. If this is a relationship that is very important, stay in touch in some form every 30 days. Send an email, call just to check in, send an article that may interest them, consider birthday or holiday cards. Although it may seem like a lot of work, you are the one who must keep the relationship going, since you stand to gain more from the affiliation initially.

What to do when it doesn’t work. Sometimes you meet the right person, you have a great initial conversation and you are excited about the possibilities, but for some reason the relationship seem to go south real fast after that first meeting. They may not return your calls or emails and no matter what you do, you get no response. Don’t be a pest; if you tried three times to contact someone over a period of time, let it rest. It could be that they may be tied up with a project or going through a difficult time personally or professionally. If you were referred to this person by a colleague or friend, go back and explain the situation, as they may be able to speak on your behalf and open the door again. If you were not referred, then keep your eyes open so you can be reintroduced by a colleague, as you may have better results the second time around with a referral.

Karen Hinds is “The Workplace Success Expert.”
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