So, there’s this kind of major buzz around the upcoming Parnassah Expo.
About how many people are expected to attend. (A whole lot. Like a whopping 10,001 attendees. Ten thousand attendees—and me.)
But there’s something you ought to know.
It doesn’t matter!
You see, the sheer number of attendees does not matter. (What — were you planning trade business cards with every attendee??) That is the mistake of an amateur! Because, you see…
It doesn’t matter!
It’s about the quality of the connections you make, and the length of those connections… for making people you meet more than “hello— goodbye!” with a “buy from me” stuffed in the middle.
There are boatloads of people out there who say…
“I’ve tried networking before… and it doesn’t work.”
Might it be that you were the one who did not know or understand how networking works? Or what networking means?
But, instead of spending time telling you what you might have done differently in the past, let me share with you some tips on how to network in a way that really works.
Firstly, put your skepticism aside. Put your best foot forward, and take the big plunge…. Show up.
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky
Show up at the Parnassah Expo. That would be step one.
Come with a cohesive strategy and goals for the day. Like, “Today I want to network with 25 people in depth.” Or “Today I want to give out/collect 1,000 business cards.”
Both those goals are ones that you control. Trying to set a goal like “I will sell three life insurance policies today” would be a horrible goal, because you don’t control the minds of others and therefore, cannot achieve that goal as a set thing to do before you go home at the end of the day.
So, to recap so far:
Show up with a strategic, reachable goal in mind.
Next, bring business cards. I cannot stress how horrible it looks when you are asked for a business card and you say “I just decided to come this morning and don’t have cards.”
The third step would be to realize that to use an old Yiddish quote, “Yeider Shmoyger, Far Zich Toig Er!”
Since most attendees are interested in promoting their business, getting themselves a job, and talking about themselves, you will go much further by using your ears instead of your mouth the whole time.
Think about what you can do for others, not what they can do for you.
Please go back and read that sentence over again. When you meet someone, and they tell you what they do, don’t make the mistake of telling them what you do and why they should hire you or your product or service to fill a need they have. Think about who you know that would be helpful to them.
Personally, I once met a reporter for a prestigious Long Island newspaper at an event where I was being given an (undeserved, I know!) award for my work. Several minutes prior I had met a couple who had opened the first frum women’s clothing store in Great Neck.
So I told the reporter (instead of trying to “get something” out of them) that I had just met someone who opened a unique store that might just make a great story for their publication. I had gotten a business card from them, and I gladly passed it along to the reporter… and managed to find them both at the same time and connect them. You can bet both the reporter and the storeowner have a different impression of myself (and a better memory of me!) than had I tried to push business consulting on them, or a story about myself and what I do to the newspaper!
So to recap until here:
1) Show up.
2) With a “solid” Goal in Mind.
3) With Business Cards.
4) Use your ears more than your mouth.
Be polite to everyone. Give a firm handshake, not a “cold fish” one. Think about how when you meet someone at a wedding whose hands feel cold and clammy how that affects your interaction with that person—or how you don’t like to dance next to the guy with very sweaty palms. (And why do I end up next to the guy who always likes to hold hands the funny way… know what I mean?)
If you just chuckled reading the above quote, yay… Good! Try to keep that joke in mind (or another, or something else you find humorous) and keep that smile on your fact the entire expo.
When you smile, you have more self confidence. When you smile, people like you better. People want to spend time with you in your company. When you come like a kvetch and tell everyone what a lousy time you are having in life, today, or in business… people may sympathize, but know that it rubs off on you badly. (Envisioning doing business with someone who seems a kvetch is not most people’s idea of a good healthy relationship…!)
One of the tips I’ve shared at seminars in the past (I believe this comes from Donald Trump) is that if you are coming to the seminar to find a job (or even if you are not!) borrow $1,000 from someone and keep it in your pocket. When you have money in your pocket (sad commentary on our generation perhaps, but no matter) you have more bounce in your step, because you “could” buy whatever you wanted… when you have “
gelt in tash” things seem just a tad more upbeat… and that is often what it takes to have your new, sunnier disposition find chein by the people you are meeting.
At the seminar you will be surrounded by people, whom in aggregate, have purchase power in the billions of dollars. That’s BILLIONS with a B, not merely millions.
People who are in dozens of industries, people who are each networked with people around the world… cream of the crop business owners, media people, importers, bankers, farmers, technology Companies, barbershop owners, Major people in the world of philanthropy and chessed, chinuch and education, and who knows who else.
So to quickly recap until here:
1) Decide a goal
2) Get business cards and/or a Resume
3) Bring a Smile on your face
To that let me add one more:
4) Come for a specific business focus, not saying “I have three businesses.” That is an alarm bell to most people you will meet.
Bring a few (working) pens in your pocket. And some paper to (unobtrusively) write things down, like people you want to follow up with or interesting thing you heard at a keynote or session. Even though you think that you will remember it all later, you probably won’t.
Another important point is that Baruch Hashem, with an event of this size, even with computers and manpower, people have to sometimes wait in line for a few minutes (or a few more than a few minutes) until they get a badge and entry into the exposition halls. But think about this—the people in front of you and behind you in line are perfect people to meet… and they have nothing better to do!
(to those people who look busy and are talking on their cellphone while waiting, as well as those seemingly glued to their devices throughout the day… let me tell you a secret here—they are on the phone for the most part because they are too self conscious and scared to meet new people! On the other side of the phone is their wife (or mother or…) asking them “so did you meet anyone interesting yet?” that person should not be you!
Don’t spend time talking to your friends from shul, the block, yeshiva, your old job… and don’t talk to one person for more than a few minutes. The point is to be around and meet many new opportunities, and do not let yourself be hogged into spending much time with one person… it’s the yetzer hora who wants you to feel accomplished while keeping you in your comfort zone, which you should have left outside….
An easy way to get out of sticky situations is to look at your watch, which sends a subtle signal to the other person that it’s time to move on…
And lastly—realize that neither you nor I took the time to selflessly put together an event of this scale for the benefit of us all. From R’ Duvi Honig to the entire selfless team who already have not slept a full night’s sleep in several months (I’m in Yerushalayim and whenever I try to reach R’ Duvi 24/6 he is up and working hard!), to the Sponsors who are bankrolling this we owe them a big thank you… because the opportunity they are giving us is the highest form of helping another there can be…
Over the past year I personally have both hired people and companies and been hired by people and companies whom I met at the Parnassah Expo. For this year’s expo, I have already set up clients and others coming to the expo from overseas with people and companies they should meet there. You should be doing the same… thinking about not just new people, but how to reconnect with people you may already know but did not know what they are up to or of synergies that may be of major benefit to you both.
Think of the Parnassah Expo as walking down 13th Avenue in Boro Park, Madison Avenue in Lakewood, or Fifth Avenue in Manhattan… but unlike what you might find if you walked into their store, having with every business owner you talk with happy to see you and eager to talk with you…
Ready? See you there iy”h! With your business cards handy! But Remember, I won’t be able to talk to you for long…
I’d suggest you print this article out and read it again on paper for best effect. Circle different points, scribble the thoughts it triggers for you on the page. And prepare what you want to take with the expo NOW as opposed to the morning of the seminar… you’ll be glad you did.