Networking is an art form. It cannot be boiled down to a series of steps that always work, in succession, every time. Everyone has a unique constellation of inner motivators and expectations and your usual style of communicating may or may not be a match for them. This is where Style Flexing comes in. You can learn to flex your style with the intent of building trust by attempting to meet someone’s needs.
Last time, I gave you a networking scenario that went awry. I described how your usual style–candid and forthright—inadvertently caused stress for Sally, a new contact of yours. Her high inner need for respect and consideration was not met. You cannot always be sure of someone’s need unless they know and tell you, but you can try a new approach. Here is an example of a shift in style that might have made all the difference with Sally, based on her significant need for respect:
Your original comment: “I understand from Joe that you have a lot of contacts in my target market! Let’s have coffee next week and see if you know anyone in particular I should meet! I might even have a few for you, but I am not sure.”
Thoughtful version: “I am really impressed with your success at building such a solid base of colleagues and friends. It sounds like you and I have contacts that are in each other’s target markets. Would you be interested in having coffee sometime to talk about this further? Perhaps we can assist each other over time with referrals.”
Some of you may be saying, “What’s wrong with the original comment? I shouldn’t have to beat around the bush.” There is nothing “wrong” with your usual style, whatever it is! It’s just that much of the time, it will not produce the results you are hoping for. I can tell you from personal experience that shifting your style can change everything and many times, immediately! You have the power to alter your style whenever you find things are not going smoothly.
Next time: Giving and receiving: Do you know where you are in this networking contiuum?