By Bev Bachel
Are you at a point in your life where you’re wondering what’s next? If so, you may want to power up your ability to connect.
According to Richard Lieder, life purpose guru and coauthor of Life Reimagined: Discovering Your New Life Possibilities, connecting is one of six guideposts that can help you navigate your way into what’s next, whether that’s an encore career, part-time employment or retirement.
And while meeting in person isn’t possible right now, there’s never been a better time to connect virtually. Whether it’s via a professional association webinar, a Zoom happy hour with colleagues or an online yoga class with neighbors, each connection offers an opportunity to network.
Get your fun on
According to Susan RoAne, author of How to Work a Room: The Ultimate Guide to Socializing in Person and Online, the most effective networkers know how to have fun.
Teresa Thomas agrees. The author of Win/Win Networking: Your Guidebook for Confident and Effective Connections and the founder of 50 Fun Things, Thomas strives to put fun into every networking event, even now as we shelter in place. For instance, she hosts a virtual Happier Hour each Friday afternoon. The price of admission? A fun beverage for yourself and a willingness to share one joy with others.
Fun is the name of the game for Carolyn Herfurth as well. A one-time stand-up comic who readily admits that belly laughs are an occupational hazard of working with her, Herfurth used to host BAMs—Bistros After Midnight—in front of her New York City apartment. “I’d set up a café table and four chairs and invite who ever wandered by to sit down and chat. The stories people shared were amazing. So were the connections people made.”
That’s one reason Herfurth is still bringing people together, though she’s now doing so virtually via Onward, a new podcast she developed to get more women to share the good, the bad and the ugly of their entrepreneurial lifestyle stories.
The purpose of networking isn’t only to meet people and share stories. It’s also to drive results. To do so, author and speaker Sam Horn advises adding a little “POP” to your networking:
- Purposeful. With just 60 to 90 seconds to prove why you’re worth making time for, make your case by clearly stating who you are and why you want to meet and/or need help.
- Original. Horn suggests that you “tell ‘n sell” by comparing who you are and what you do to popular books, movies and products. Here’s a fill-in-the-blank formula that can help: “What _____ does for _______, I do for you.”
- Pithy. Set yourself up for success via brief, yet persuasive statements. Horn suggests using seven or fewer words, which is what many advertisers do when developing memorable slogans such as “Diamonds are forever” (De Beers) and “Just do it” (Nike).
Horn’s POP formula is even more relevant now that the coronavirus has moved so much of our lives online, in part because it’s much tougher to make a good, let alone lasting, impression when you’re doing so virtually.
Making the most of the moment
Regardless of why you’re networking or where you are in your own retirement journey, here are three more tips to help you forge stronger connections:
- Let others shine. When networking, give others a chance to share their passions and showcase their expertise. They’ll remember you took time to listen, and you’re likely to learn more than you would otherwise.
- Give yourself permission to boast. While you don’t want to go overboard, sharing accomplishments you’re proud of can go a long way toward making a positive, lasting impression.
- Add flare to your thank yous. While first impressions matter, so do last impressions. So how can you make a final impression that is memorable? Send a thank you card, post a LinkedIn recommendation, amplify someone else’s social media posts or write a review of your favorite podcast are just ways of doing so.
Bev Bachel is a Twin Cities freelancer who enjoys networking, especially when Happier Hours are involved. She is the author of What Do You Really Want? How to Set a Goal and Go for It.
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