Friday, May 23, 2008

I don't remember you. Do you remember me?

Hi there. You may not remember me. We met at the place that had the stuff, and we talked about the thing the guy did that one time.

At least I think I did. Because I don’t remember you.
I’ve got your business card, so our conversation must have lasted long enough for you to hand it to me.

The thing is, I don’t remember you at all. I don’t know where I met you or what day or anything, because I go to all these networking events – Rainmakers, Smaller Indiana, Fishers Chamber of Commerce – throughout the month. And after a while, everyone starts to blend together, and pretty soon, I’ve just got a kaleidoscope of faces and names: IT professionals, insurance agents, graphic designers, entrepreneurs, writers, real estate agents, and software providers.

And, I’m sorry to say, you didn’t do enough to make an impression on me. So your card ended up in this pile.

I cleaned out my business card files last week and pulled out the cards of the people I lost touch with, couldn’t get together with, or just plain couldn’t remember who they were.

Are you in this pile? This pile of cardstock that now sits in my recycling bin, waiting to make more business cards, to start the whole circle over again? If you made an impression on me, you’re not. If we had a meaningful conversation and I know something more about you than “I make small business owners’ lives easier,” you’re not. You’re safely tucked away in my business card file. If you were one of those blurred faces I met at the place with the stuff, then you’re in the pile.

While I’m in some great networking groups, I don’t know if everyone understands networking. I’ve met people who think that if they scatter a bunch of cards around, they’ll get business. So they hand me their card, tell me in the vaguest, most generic terms what they do, and then dash off without waiting to hear about what I do, or to tell me what makes them special, and why I should even like them, let alone do business with them.

I’ve written before about the “
power of the linger,” and how the conversations that happen after meetings are the best ones, because those are the people I connect with. They’re the people I want to do business with or refer my friends to. They’re the people whose cards I keep, for months and years after I met them. They’re the people who become my associates and even friends. They’re who I call whenever I need some help in their area of expertise.

The next time you see me – or anyone else you want to do business with – take more than two minutes. Tell me something about you the person, not you the business. Connect with me, and make it a memorable conversation. That way I’ll know who to call when I need your services. Otherwise, when I need help with a problem, I'll call the other guy who does the thing.

1 comment:

  1. You definitely hit on something with your "linger" post. I myself think I finally discovered real networking - make it about the other person. Ask people about themselves, compliment their handbag (always works for me) or some other item that won't be interpreted as a 'come-on', learn one thing about the other person and then find a way to relate it back to you - to make a connection. It's funny the conversations I have walked away from, knowing more about the other person than they know about me, but it's me that comes to mind when X comes up.


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