I am very fortunate, I have an incredible group of friends in my life that are also my family members. These women in my life are incredibly important to me. I have leaned on the at times and I learn from them all the time. I think we are great! But we do have a little secret. One that I will share with you now. Some of us (and I include myself in this) have an alter ego. Her name is Aunt Meme. Aunt Meme, if we say so ourselves, is really fun and outgoing and everything Aunt Meme does and says is all about, well Aunt Meme. Sometimes Aunt Meme comes on really strong and doesn't know when to stop. Because we are family we have no problem saying…”Knock it off, you are being an Aunt Meme, you know it isn't all about you!
I know, you are probably asking what in the world does this have to do with networking. Right? I would tell you just about everything. One of the networking business tips that I give to women networkers is the 80/20 rule. In business the 80/20 rule is this, 80% of your time needs to be spent on 20% of your clients. The clients who are in essence paying for your services or products. In business networking, the 80/20 rule is this, 80% of your time needs to be spent listening and 20% talking. There is no room for Aunt Meme or Uncle Meme for that matter when you are networking your business.
How many times have you gone to a professional networking event and met someone who has come up,introduced themselves and begins a 10 minute oration on who they are, what they do and how business is great? All the while you are trying to be polite and listen, but in reality they lost you at “hello”. It happens all the time and it needs to STOP!
How do we stop the incessant Aunt Meme? How do we get her/him to just for once ask about us? Ask us, what do we do, what do we need, and how can they help us? Well, it isn't easy. Because as you know, we can't change people. We can only change ourselves. So that is where we must start.
Are you an Aunt Meme? Well, let's take a hard look. When you are at a networking event, can you honestly say that you know the story of everyone you've connected with at the event? Do you know what they are looking for in their business. If you can refer someone, do you? Have you honed your personal commericial to 60 seconds so that you can get out what you need to say in a precise professional manner? Are you respectful of other's time. Have you taken yourself out of the equation?
Trust me, my friends and family will tell you, there is no bigger Aunt Meme than myself. But truth be told,it's only around them. I have had to learn this lesson of course, I have had to practice like crazy my networking skills. I still practice my personal commercial on the way to a networking event. I have to, Aunt Meme can't help herself, sometimes she just pops up when she should not. It takes effort but what you want in the end is for people to say that they loved talking to you (even when you didn't say too much!). It shows empathy, respect and the willingness to make the connection. I will tell you for business women who network,it is what it's all about.
So embrace Aunt Meme. I do, I love her. Just not at a networking event. She isn't allowed to show her self there. Even though she is FABULOUS!! I save her for those who know and love her(me) even still.
Robin Tracey is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Interconnections for Women LLC.
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