A few years back when I moved to Charlotte, NC for the first time, I came with high hopes of starting my business for the first time. We picked Charlotte because it was a growing city with a lot of potential. There was a booming down town and cultural events were starting to make their way to the area.
I didn't know a soul in town so I did what any self respecting business professional would do! I opened the Yellow Pages and started calling. I called the first company that listed Public Relations. And literally that was ALL I needed to do! From that one call, I met everyone I needed to in the city and within weeks!
What happened was this. The man on the other end of the phone said, "what are you buying or what are you selling?" I said, "neither, I'm a new in town, a former celebrity agent and I want to meet people". That opened the conversation, and he gave me 5 names which I followed up on, and they gave me names, and so on and so on. Before I knew it, I was hosting a party at my house for 50 people? all new friends!
Granted, now that I'm a mommy, my social network has to do more with fundraising for the schools than with building my business. But I still use the same concept when I'm out and about, and I encourage my clients to do the same.
When meeting new people, identify with people for who you WANT to be, or who you WANT to meet. For instance, you are currently at "xyz" company but HOPING to make a career switch into "the dream job". This way, people will respond to this and if they have any contacts that might be able to help, you've opened the door.
After they've been gracious to offer help if they can, then turn the conversation immediately over to them. What do THEY do, where are they from or how do they like this lovely city where you now both live? Give them a chance to show their expertise, and share about their life. Be enthusiastic about what they've done and ask questions.
When you depart, ask them if there is anyone else that they think you might enjoy meeting? Then promise to email them the next day to follow up. When you write them the next day, be sure to thank them and offer to help them if they need it.
Start keeping a list of new people that you meet and what they do and what it is that they WANT. If you can bring value to these people along the way somehow, then they'll remember you and be a resource for you when you need it too.
Moving to a new city, or starting a new business are great times to start networking. But growing your network of new contacts or friends can happen at any time you want. And all you have to do is to open the phone book and start calling!
Mary Gardner, The Charisma Coach! is an Executive Communications Consultant and Trainer. She works with, coaches and trains individuals, sales teams, executives, and celebrities. She owned and operated one of the first coaching institutions on the east coast, CCI, in NYC, Philly and NJ. Mary has appeared on ABC's 20/20 and has self published a book on public speaking. Mary is married to Sway and is mommy to Jeremy 5, and lives in Orlando, FL.