Most business people regularly do some form of networking. You meet people; you pass out a few business cards; and you maybe follow up here or there. But often networking is a sideline, an afterthought. Like any marketing technique, networking is most effective when done with intention and consistency. It's not that most people are lazy or inept, but often they just don't think about it or have a good model to follow.
Luckily, my friend Brian Feinblum recently delighted me in his blog by pointing out the perfect model for networking: his 4-year-old English bulldog Daisy. Brian is the Chief Marketing Officer for the P.R. firm Media Connect, and he nicely shared Daisy's smart networking skills. These 7 tips should help you win in the dog-eat-dog world of business ... or at least give you paws to think. (Sorry.)
1. Fearlessly Work a Room
Dogs are strangers to one another, but they instantly meet and greet those around them. They know how to fearlessly work a room. Try to be open and free-spirited like a golden retriever. Just walk up, say hi, and introduce yourself to anyone who will listen. You don't have to lick their faces.
2. Be Friendly and Playful
Dogs, after a few initial sniffs, begin to play together, chasing one another, and rolling over in the dirt. Don't hang back waiting for other people to make the first move. Once you sense there is some common ground and you're not likely to get your head bitten off, engage. Invite them for golf or a ball game. Get in some social activity.
3. Work That Body
Dogs are excellent at using body language to convey a point. Body language is as much about seeing what's going on with others as it is about projecting yourself. That's what makes dogs so good at getting our attention and avoiding conflict. We rely so often on our words to communicate with others, but make sure to give thought to your body movements, your eye contact, your appearance and your vibe.
4. Make 'em Laugh
Dogs win us over with humor because they make us laugh at the things they do, the expressions they display and the way their tongues hang out. No need to take yourself so seriously. Use humor to your advantage.
5. Share a Meal
Dogs bond with people over food. They will be your best friend if you engage them with a treat. You can't necessarily snack your way into friendships, but buying someone a drink or bonding over a meal is a great way to develop a relationship.
6. Be Expressive
Dogs can be verbally expressive, even without words. They'll bark, whimper, growl and yawn. They don't hide anything--they make their feelings and needs known. Try the same thing. Let others know exactly how you feel and you may just get some useful and honest feedback.
7. Show Some Enthusiasm
Dogs expend a lot of energy in running and jumping all over the place. They are very active and lively. Enthusiastically share your passion for life and people when communicating. Your joyfulness may actually become infectious.
Of course, you don't want to emulate everything dogs do. I know my poodle Spike spends a great deal of his time sleeping on the sofa, which isn't exactly productive. And Brian accurately points out that walking around outside naked or relieving yourself on the street may get you in a bit of trouble. But dogs certainly lead the way in showing humans how to get along with one another. So stop pussyfooting around, network like a dog and you may get a new leash on life for your business.
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