By Patrick Francey
Relationship building and networking, or what I have come to call “Connectworking” really is a foundational key to your success as a real estate investor. It’s also a valuable asset in building and growing any business. The process helps you to discover and learn and find investment deals, contracts, resource experts, and new investors who'll support your ideas, and more.
I prefer the term Connectworking as it combines the meaning of both “connecting” and “networking”, which represents what I believe the REIN Community is all about: “A group of people having common interests, sharing, participating, and fellowship coming together; establishing rapport and relationship, interacting or engaging with others for mutual assistance or support and to relate to or be in harmony with another person, ones work, business or outcomes.
How to Make the Most of Connectworking Opportunities
Connectworking can be incredibly uncomfortable for people who are shy (which, by the way, may not include introverts), just starting out, or have simply not had previous experience. Some view it as uncomfortable or insincere at best, manipulative at worst. They eschew Connectworking for a variety of reasons including lack of confidence, fear of rejection and even a sense of unworthiness.
The truth is that if these individuals could learn to relate to others more easily, if they could generate more self-confidence and didn’t let themselves become self-conscious wallflowers, the world would be their oyster, and developing new relationships would be so much easier.
The good news is it’s possible for shrinking violets and even the shyest individuals to master the skill of Connectworking. They just have to realize that successful Connectworking is all about building intimate, sincere relationships based on mutual generosity, not duplicity, and that they can't achieve their career goals on their own. They have to Connectwork their way to success.
If you're struggling to meet new people, here are some common-sense suggestions and guidelines for increasing your own Connectworking mojo.
If the idea of approaching people you don't know intimidates you, begin your Connectworking efforts by seeking out and practicing techniques on familiar faces, such as relatives and friends. You’re likely to find they will open up and converse with you differently.
You can practice and do a significant amount of valuable Connectworking without ever having to make a cold call. Beginning with an existing relationship instead of an unknown demystifies the Connectworking process and helps get a shy or inexperienced person over the hurdle. A series of mindful, intentional conversations will help you gain more confidence as you work through the process.
Shy and inexperienced networkers often apologize when asking for help because they see Connectworking as an imposition, rather than what it is - an exercise in mutual relationship building.
If you are this person, don’t feel like you’re asking someone to do you a favor. You have to believe that you are worth someone else's time and that you bring something to the conversation.
Apologizing actually minimizes who you are and demonstrates a lack of professionalism and confidence. You don't have to apologize for wanting to learn more about the individual with whom you're Connectworking so don’t apologize for asking for help. One day you just may be able to help them out.
Tap into Your Instincts
Human behavior studies have shown that humans are hard-wired as communal, tribal animals, so the shy person isn't shy by nature, they are shy by design. At a conscious or subconscious level something happened to them to make them want to shy away.
Not all introverts occur as being shy, because they have learned to intentionally generate social interaction. When an introvert comes to understand they are not inherently a loner, that humans are innately social creatures, the realization helps emerge from the shell of not wanting to stand out or be alone.
Dale Carnegie, without knowing it, literally wrote the book on Connectworking in 1936. How to Win Friends and Influence People demystified the process of making friends out of strangers and inspired legions of business coaches to carry on Carnegie's message.
To paraphrase key insights from Carnegie’s writing as shared by Peter Handal, the Chairman, CEO, and President of Dale Carnegie & Associates retrieved from www.cio.com:
Smile: This is such a simple basic rule, yet people just don't think about it. They're so focused on needing to network at a conference that they don't realize they're walking around with a scowl on their face. Scowling, serious, expressions are forbidding. People are more likely to warm up to someone who says good morning with a broad smile than they are to someone with a gloomy countenance.
Ask a question: Joining a group engaged in an existing conversation can be awkward. The best way to do so is to pose a question to the group after getting the gist of the conversation. "You build your credibility by asking a question, and for a shy person, that's a much easier way to engage than by barging in with an opinion”, according to Handal.
Listen: One of the most profound points Carnegie made in How to Win Friends was that people love to talk about themselves. If you can get people to discuss their experiences and opinions—and listen with sincere interest—you can have a great conversation with someone without having to say much at all.
Business cards: Always have them handy. "They're an effective way for you to leave your name behind so that people remember who you are."
Say the person's name: "People like to hear their own name," pointing to another one of Carnegie's basic principles—that a person's name is the sweetest sound to that person. So when you meet someone, use his or her name in conversation. Doing so makes the other person feel more comfortable, like you really know them and they know you. Never be assumptive in taking the liberty of shortening a person’s name. Listen to how they introduce themselves and repeat the name they used, not an abbreviated version of it.
Many introverted professionals think they have to act like an extrovert in Connectworking situations. While you do have to make an effort to be more gregarious than normal, do not be artificial.
You don't have to be the schmoozer. The problem with the schmoozer's approach to Connectworking is they don’t occur as genuine and sincere; their intention is from a mindset of what’s in it for me. Schmoozers are not interested in helping other people—only themselves.
Be the authentic, humble, shy person you are. It can be endearing. Don't try to be something you're not,
In other words, it's okay if you're a little awkward. Just don't apologize for it.
Tap into Common Interests
The advantage of being in the REIN Community is that it’s easy to find common interests you enjoy with other people and makes conversation so much easier. Remember, before you begin sharing your view of current economic conditions, vacation highlights or real estate stats, make certain you have introduced yourself and heard the other person’s name.
Ask for Introductions
Often shy people attending events and meeting tend to find one person they connect with and whom they spend all their time talking with for the duration of the entire event.
Although settling in with one person may be more comfortable than introducing yourself to a variety of new people, it defeats the purpose of Connectworking.
Instead, ask your new acquaintance if they know anyone else they could introduce you to. That's a nice soft way for you to meet others. Consider teaming up with your new acquaintance to intentionally go out together to meet others.
Sometimes people new to the REIN Community (especially shy people) have trouble Connectworking because they don’t believe they have anything significant to offer, aren’t sure of where they fit in, or are uncomfortable in the presence of the person they are speaking with.
You always have something to offer, the least of which is your ability to be present and listen with sincere interest. Connectworking doesn't have to be about a job, or pitching a deal. Sincere interest in the other person—even simple flattery—is a form of generosity and goes a long way when you're Connectworking.
Be authentic, share your interests, your undivided attention and help other people to feel good about themselves.
If you're tendency is to be nervous, feel uncomfortable or get tongue-tied in a social setting, prepare yourself in advance. Think of ice-breaker questions you can ask people you meet. If you're attending an event to generate a job, or pitch a deal you have, be certain your 30 second personal pitch is ready. Anticipate questions you may be asked, such as why you're looking for a new job, or details about the deal, and have clear, concise answers ready. Your delivery has to be interesting and attention grabbing to overcome interruptions and compensate for a lack of privacy.
Sharing information—whether a website, article, report or phone number—with new contacts builds your credibility and keeps you top of mind. If you promised to e-mail a report or information to someone you met, make sure you follow through. If you find an interesting article related to the persons business, or industry, share it with in an e-mail that says “I came across this article that relates to what we were talking about. I thought you might find it interesting
When you do what you've said you were going to do, it elevates the person’s impression that you keep your word. If you don't, you're just another schmoozer.
Get Over Your Fear of Rejection
In the course of Connectworking, you'll encounter people who can't relate to you or who you simply don't relate to. That's life. Don't take it personally and don't dwell on it. It's all part of the process.
When you overcome your fear of rejection, it'll be easier to strike up conversations with strangers.
The person sitting next to you at an event or on an airplane may be feeling as uncomfortable as you are and will appreciate you breaking the ice. They may just be a fabulous contact for you or know the right person for you to talk to. You just won't know until you try.
Ask for Help
If you can't open up to people, you'll never be able to Connectwork. The first step may be your most challenging, which is to gain the confidence to ask someone for help. Overcoming the fear of asking for help from someone you can trust, opens the door of possibilities in discovering yourself in a profound way.
Patrick Francey is the CEO of REIN. As a serial entrepreneur he owns many businesses and has been a real estate investor for nearly 20 years. The majority of his holdings are located in Edmonton and Grande Prairie.