As an entrepreneur who has failed, done very well, failed again and did great again – one thing throughout that entire time stayed consistent: the lack of true relationship-building & networking skills among entrepreneurs.
I was out late last night (which is pretty rare nowadays.) I usually like to chill-out and relax at home with a good book, or watching some random conspiracy documentary online before I pass out for the night. I’ve been focusing on improving my overall health and sleep in 2023. So far, it’s going pretty good. However, last night I was at an event with 170+ entrepreneurs. I helped co-host the event. Something struck me at the end of the night as the event wrapped up: most entrepreneurs are severely deficient in building rapport, genuine attentiveness, and lack of knowledge when it comes to reading social cues and body language.
It wasn’t just last night, but over the last 10 years. I used to be an introvert in my teens and early 20’s. It got so bad that I was actually a literal hermit for 8+ years. I worked 60-70 hours a week building my business. I went home, showered, read, slept. I did that everyday in my mid 20’s. I was a failure at relationships, a failure in networking and meeting others whether it was new friends or business relationships. But overall, I never addressed these deficiencies I had. I had to take a nice long look in the mirror to change this. How could I turn this around 180? It was slow with many mistakes and learning along the way, but I feel as if I’ve made some major improvements when it comes to your presentation as a person amongst other entrepreneurs. I’m going to let my thoughts spill out of my mind all over this article. This will be a detailed observation of an analysis of myself over the years and – my observation of other entrepreneurs in a networking sense but also, in a human connection sense.
1.) Is the person you’re speaking with listening to you? Or waiting their turn to talk? (This is a big difference)
When at a networking event, have you ever noticed when you were speaking with someone, their eyes started drift off while you were talking to them? Did you notice them interrupt and to talk with someone else when they walked by? It’s probably happened to you at one point. Here’s the key takeaways from this: Are you boring? Is your delivery skills in communication bland? Or, are they being rude? Or, is it a combination of both? It’s important to do some honest self-introspection and pick up on this. If you’re not interesting, start thinking of ways to be more knowledgeable in a certain subject. Work on the delivery. Over time, you’ll turn from introvert into outgoing extrovert. (Here’s me on a filming, which I would have never done several years prior. WATCH HERE.)
When you speak, do you feel as if the person is truly attentive and paying attention to you? If so, let them know. Tell them that they are being attentive to what you’re saying and you appreciate that. They’ll be surprised and happy. A lot of people nowadays have something as I call “Tik Tok” Syndrome. (They lose attention after a few seconds and they’re mentally “swiping” on to the next thing).
Remember, when you’re networking with other entrepreneurs, you should never lead with your business first. First, talk to the person. Get to know them. Be genuine. If you find the person attentive, interesting, then continue on the conversation. Build a rapport first before talking business. People will always reach out to you for business if you left a good first impression on them with a good energy and vibe. If you come out from the get go trying to “sell sell sell” or “promote promote promote”, you’ll seem like a clown and ruin your reputation. Remember, the first appearance and impression you give someone is everything. Now, let’s be fair here. Yes, some people are rude and won’t listen. But, is it maybe you? Take these notes below:
When was the last time you did an honest self-introspection test?
Are you an interesting person?
Do you have a “magnetic pull” to you? Does your personality lure people to you and keep them interested?
Do you have a name for yourself in your industry? Is your business well known?
Are you dressed like a bum? Or are you dressed sharp?
You can be the greatest person in the world. You could have a heart of gold without a bad bone in you. However, that goes all out the window to people subconsciously if you’re suit is oversized and not tailored. Or you let yourself go with your hair, teeth, weight etc. (As someone that used to be near 300 pounds, I could sense that people knew that what I had to say wasn’t as important, because I didn’t care for myself. They were right.). I had to care for myself and fix myself first, before people can take me as a credible reliable person. If I don’t care about my wellbeing, my health, my appearance, my character or my integrity – why would anyone else?
Get your suits tailored. Hit the gym. Fix your hair. Fix your skin. Fix your teeth. The accomplishments you have in the business world is great, but the public figure (you), has to match that accomplishment.
Most importantly, do this: If you notice that the person is talking about themselves for the first 5 minutes without once asking about you or you business, exchange cards – and leave FAST. (People like that, and there are a lot of them don’t realize that they suck in having “soft skills” aka communication skills. Conversation and relationship building takes two to tango. If they only talk about themselves and their business without asking about you or you business, get out of the convo quick! I’ve personally done this before where I actually left in the middle of a conversation when I noticed the person not fully paying attention to me when it was my turn to speak. Sure enough, they came by several minutes later to follow me and apologized.
Respect your time and your energy – value it.
2.) Are they shy? Rude? Or uninterested in you and your business?
I highly encourage those reading this to study body language. (Not only for help in a sales sense, but also with picking up on social cues whether or not you should leave a conversation based on their body language.)
Most entrepreneurs are deficient in learning basic social cues and body language. As a male, this is something I was absolutely terrible at over the years. I’ve put a ton of hours into this particular niche subject alone. Researching the direction ones eyes move when certain questions are asked. Determining their interest in my conversation. Also, by determining whether or not they would need to use my business or even just friendship.
Also, you have to remember this. YOU, have to give your value to people as well. In networking, it’s not just receiving, it’s also giving. Give your knowledge. Give your resources (social network of connections) and give your honest thoughts and opinions on not only your business life, but also your life. Being genuine, transparent and honest about your personal life will do more for you and your business then trying to just “sell”
3.) She keeps playing with her hair and touching me, is she trying to bang or does she want to sell me something?
A lot of men have reached out about this. When male entrepreneurs are at networking events, they often say how a particular female was being “extra friendly” to them. But the males don’t know whether or not the female is actually into them, or, if the woman is using this in order to lure the man into buying their products or services.
It’s tricky – kind of.
As men, we have to work on being more direct. I have some horror stories to share of men buying a ton of products from a female they met at a networking event just because she was very hot. (The male didn’t even need the product, he just felt compelled too. In a way to show off I guess.)
Let’s say the woman isn’t trying to sell you anything, but does genuinely find you attractive. Then what?
(Slip her your card in the preliminary stages, NOT social media exchanges, if this is a dating type of scenario. If you’re wanting to exchange info for business, then yes, social media exchanges as I’ll explain later on.)
When you give her your card, you get a chance to really see what happens. Don’t ask for her number, you give her your card and tell her to reach out to you. (This will throw off the woman because it shows you’re not some desperate creep like every other guy at the networking event.) We all have seen those type of guys bouncing from female to female just being thirsty the entire night.
Give her your info, have her reach out. If she reaches out, it’s a done deal: She’s into you.
4.) The next day; email everyone this…
With all the cards you collected and all the social media accounts you connected with; it’s very important to do this.
Message them it was a pleasure meeting them.
Bring up something thoughtful they said about themselves or their business – mention that in the email.
Say (if you mean it), that you will keep their business info handy for the future and thank them for their time talking with you.
End the email with your full name and company info.
(Do NOT try to setup a time to sell them your business / service / products). People hate hate hate hate hate this.
Just reach out to them without expecting or wanting a sale. Just be human. Let the rest happen.
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