Business owners understand the importance of consistently meeting new people but very sharp professionals are intentional with their networking. They care more about the quality of people they are spending time with. We all believe your attitude and income is a reflection of who you spend your time with.
When you are entering a new sphere of people or looking to ramp up your contact spheres, you need to be introduced to and start building relationships with very successful influencers who you recognize to be a few steps ahead of your current state of business or career. Influencers are well respected by their peers and are connected to the right people in their community and industry.
Here is a simple but powerful agenda to follow at your first meeting with an influencer with whom you are looking to build a relationship. Set a goal to have at least one of these conversations with a new influencer each month to soon build new perspectives and a more influential contact list.
Step One: Explain. After your small talk, start the meeting by simply explaining two things. First and most important, you need to be able to articulate, with a sincere passion, why you are in your business and what you can see it becoming. Second, reconfirm the intent of the meeting.
Step Two: Memory lane. We can learn a lot from hearing about other people’s businesses and career paths. Also, people enjoy telling their story. Start off the learning process by asking the influencer:
“Can you briefly share how you built your business (or career) to where it is today?”
“What were your defining moments in your career?”
“Who were the people and relationships most important to your career?”
Related: How to Get Influencers to Help You
Step Three: Outside advisor. Now that you understand more about how the influencer got to where they are today, ask if they have any specific advice or ideas for you, as you look to advance your business or career. Take notes, and if you have success with one of their ideas in the future, be sure to tell them about it.
This is also a good opportunity to invite the influencer to be on your ad hoc board of advisors. The intent here is to take them out to lunch twice a year to share your progress and struggles and to hear their outside perspective. Staying in contact with these influencers is the reason for meeting them for the first time.
Step Four: Introduce me. The last part of the meeting is to gain some introductions to other successful influencers who can also provide insight and possibly help you generate business in the future. Ask your influencer:
“If you were in my position today, who are some other successful professionals that you’d be building relationships with?”
Then, if necessary follow up more specifically:
“Could we brainstorm the names of some people you think highly of that I could introduce myself to and have a similar meeting with?”
People will usually introduce you to people they perceive as peers or subordinates. As long as you are having this meeting with someone you feel is a few steps ahead of where you are, you will be building a more influential contact list.
By consistently following this format with influencers, you give yourself the chance to build mentoring relationships and an impactful, intentional and influential contact list.