As beginning photographers in high school we were always looking for tips of the trade and ways to make things work for us if we didn’t have the equipment or expertise. And rules of thumb were the list of “hacks” we all cataloged in our heads so that we could get back in case we had a failure or needed to improvise on the fly.
F22 at the speed of the film was a rule of thumb we used in case we didn’t have a light meter, either handheld or in the camera, and needed to set an exposure to take a photo (the job needed to get done!). The aperture, f22, coupled with turning the speed (ISO or ASA) of the film into a shutter speed (1/500th, for an ISO 500 film, for example) worked in bright sunlight (12 Noon) and you dialed back the aperture or shutter speed a stop for each few hours of failing light.
Now this sounds all very old school, but the message is this: we all need rules of thumb or “hacks” to work around and get things done (or “get to done,” as I like to say). In networking there are some rules of thumb to make sure you get things done and have actionable items to work on after you leave a meeting, event or networking opportunity. They may include:
- Making eye contact. The best way to remember someone is to look into their eyes and concentrate on what they are saying.
- Writing notes on business cards you collect. Either while you are with the person (ask permission first) or afterward while the facts are still fresh in your mind, don’t lose the key ideas and facts from this person.
- Qualifying those you meet at an event. At the end of the event, sort the cards and peoiple just like you did your Halloween candy when you were a kid. Who was your favorite? Who is most memorable? Who would you do business with?
- Following up. All opportunities are lost if you don’t reach back out to the new contact–a note, a call, a LinkedIn invitation. Just don’t lose the immediacy of the connection.
- Exchanging phone numbers early on. If this person resonates with you at first meeting, then exchange numbers and set your next meeting on the spot. Your instincts are probably correct.
- Thinking of who in your existing network could be a match for this new contact you just met. The whole point of this is to match people that could help one another. It’s not always about you.
Think on your feet. Find ways to be productive in the moment. Don’t let the opportunity slip away. This is the moment, your time with this person. It only comes around once. Make the most of it for both of you.