Networking can be a scary term for some coaches and trainers, but it doesn’t have to be. What it really comes down to is your ability to effectively build long-lasting relationships.
Beyond that, some coaches and trainers might look at networking as being inorganic or inauthentic. Networking is what you make it. If you’re an authentic person, then each networking opportunity and scenario should be an organic and genuine interaction.
Be yourself. Learn from others. Expand your network. That’s how it all works. However, there are some do’s and don’ts that we should cover to set you on the right path.
DON’T: PUT YOURSELF FIRST
Have you ever been at a large networking event or conference where you meet someone new, and then all of a sudden, they play the “I” game?
Not sure what the “I” game is? I’m happy to explain.
The “I” game is when someone makes a concerted effort to, at the very first time meeting them, tell you about their entire life story, how awesome they are, what their experiences have been and everything they do now for work.
It is absolutely exhausting to have to sit there and be exposed to all of that. It’s also overwhelming and annoying. Trust me, no one wants to play the “I” game, so be careful of falling into this trap. Sometimes, it could be due to nerves or just simply due to being new to networking situations. Instead of falling into that trap, play the “You” game instead.
The “You” game opens the door for another person to start talking about themself first. Ask someone any question with the word “You” in it, such as “ What do you do for work?”. Then, actively listen while they explain. Hopefully, you can go back and forth in the conversation while both using this strategy to start building a long-lasting relationship.
DON’T: BE ANYONE OTHER THAN YOURSELF
I know that this one sounds cliché, but it’s true.
Wouldn’t it sound cool to make up a completely different alias in a networking conversation when you meet someone new? Sure, I could definitely see where this could be enjoyable, at least initially. However, you’d then need to continue playing make-believe and hope that you don’t fumble over your words by taking it too far. That just sounds exhausting.
Wouldn’t it be much, much easier to simply be yourself? More importantly, wouldn’t it make more sense to just simply tell it how it is?
I think a lot of young coaches and trainers get caught up in this trap of feeling insecure or not good enough. Push all of those thoughts to the side and simply be yourself. Other people will appreciate and respect you for this!
DO: USE PROPER GREETINGS & ETIQUETTE
Greeting people with a smile is simple and easy. Learning their first name, and saying it a few times in the conversation shows them that you care. These are some of the little things that you can do within the scope of networking that makes a big difference.
Consider in-person conversations, phone calls or Zoom conversations, and even messaging conversations (i.e., email, text, social media, etc.);these all represent opportunities where you can flash your networking skills with proper greetings and through the use of proper etiquette.
Nothing fancy. Just some good old manners.
DO: FOLLOW-UP & STAY IN TOUCH
The absolute worst thing you could ever do is make an incredible first impression, and then, completely fall off the face of the Earth. Unfortunately, this is the sad reality in most cases when it comes to networking for coaches and trainers.
The best thing to do is play the long game in networking. The goal is to use the initial first impression as a launching board that sets you on your path toward consistent follow-ups. Staying in touch is easier than finding new connections from scratch.. It could be as simple as reaching out within a month or two to grab a coffee or simply hop on a phone call to chat.
Again, there’s nothing fancy here. It just comes down to your ability to build a networking opportunity effectively over time.
There are many do’s and don’ts when it comes down to networking for coaches and trainers, but I really wanted to hone in on the basics. My advice is to never put yourself first and to also be true to who you are. More importantly, be sure to greet people with proper manners and stay in touch consistently to build long-lasting relationships.