A few years ago, I went to a “networking” meeting. The whole idea was of introducing yourself to another person, listening to what they say about themselves, giving out your business card, and then repeat the same with everyone in the room. I spoke to 47 people in 90 mins. I have never once heard back (or reached out to) 46 out of 47 people I met in that meeting.
The one person who made an impact on me that day ended up becoming (and continues to be) a very close friend. He is a very successful business owner. The moment I stopped talking, instead of introducing himself, he asked me, “Whom can I connect you with? And why?”
I thought “What a weird question!” And what an arrogant one too. The sheer audacity of thinking that I will take someone’s name, and he will know that person! But, I decided to take the bait. I blurted out, “I want to connect with Mr. ABC, Chairman of XYZ Group. I want to discuss with him his company’s corporate training calendar.” Names changed for privacy reasons 😉
The strangest thing I have ever seen happened. He pulled out his phone, called a number, and said, “Mr. ABC, I have with me Abhilash from Gentle Bamboo. He wants to talk to you about corporate training. Should I share with you his number so you can schedule a meeting, or do you want to say Hi to him now?”
It felt like I was in a dream. I wasn’t. He was a dream prospect for my company. Mr. ABC took my number and called me the next day. It happened because someone asked me those eight magical words, and I took a chance and gave a specific response.
In the years since we have known each other, I have asked him what would have happened if he didn’t know ABC? His reply was, “I would have offered alternative names I knew. Someone who is at a different position in the same organization. Someone in the same position but in different organizations. Someone totally different.”
I learned something very valuable. Networking is not about what you want. Networking is about identifying two people who are your connections – and connecting the two with no expectations of any return.
When you do enough of this, things will come back to you – unexpectedly and abundantly. I do this once every week without fail. I have received massive dividends from it.
The trick is also to know a very specific answer to this question when it is asked to you. The format is: Name, Designation, and Company. You also need a crystal clear Why!
So, here’s my question to you today: Whom can I connect you with? And why?