There are two elements involved in becoming a magnet. The first is your ability to attract people. The second is your approachability, the extent to which others perceive you as being open. Together, these two qualities create a positive attitude, one of the top traits of a master networker. Together, they influence how magnetic you are for your business.
In business, magnetism typically means being a center of influence. What if you could become a living magnet for your business? Who or what would be attracted to you? Being a center of influence involves positioning yourself to attract other people to you. It means becoming recognized as the go-to person, the one with a broad network, the person who knows people who can solve other people's problems. That's the person you want to become because that's who you need to be to stand out from your competition.
A magnet's strength is related to the composition of the magnet--not necessarily the size. You've probably heard of a person having a magnetic personality. If something or someone is magnetic, the object or person has an extraordinary power or ability to attract. We tend to attract people most like ourselves in our daily encounters. You may have experienced the challenges of trying to get a group of six close friends together. Busy people attract other busy people, making it more challenging to get that group together. But the rewards are great when the schedules align for a nice dinner or evening out.
Now let's consider the second element of becoming magnetic: your approachability factor. Author and professional speaker Scott Ginsberg has done extensive research on approachability in relationships. You may have heard of him. He's also known as "the Nametag Guy." (He wears a name tag everywhere he goes.) As the author of The Power of Approachability, he helps people maximize their approachability and become unforgettable.
Ginsberg says, approachability is a two-way street. "It's both you stepping onto someone else's front porch, and you inviting someone to step onto your front porch," he says. Here's a summary of Ginsberg's tips on how to maximize your approachability.
1. Be ready to engage. When you arrive at a meeting, event, party or anywhere conversations will take place, prepare yourself. Be ready with conversation topics, questions and stories in the back of your mind as soon as you meet someone. This will help you avoid awkward small talk.
2. Focus on CPI. CPI stands for common point of interest. It's an essential element in every conversation and interaction. Your duty, as you meet new people, or even as you talk with those you already know, is to discover the CPI as soon as possible. It helps establish a bond between you and others. It increases your approachability and allows them to feel more comfortable talking with you.
3. Give flavored answers. You've heard plenty of fruitless questions in your interactions--questions like "How's it going?" "What's up?" or "How are you?" When such questions come up, Scott warns, don't fall into the conversation ending trap of responding, "Fine." Instead offer a flavored answer: "Amazing!" "Any better, and I'd be twins!" or "Everything is beautiful." The other person will instantly change his or her demeanor, smile and, most of the time, ask what made you answer that way. Why? Because nobody expects it. Not only that, but offering a true response to magnify the way you feel is a perfect way to share yourself or make yourself personally available to others.
4. Don't cross your arms at networking events. Even if you're cold, bored, tired or just don't want to be there, don't cross your arms. It makes you seem defensive, nervous, judgmental, close-minded or skeptical. It's a simple, subconscious, nonverbal cue that says, "Stay away." People see crossed arms, and they drift away. They don't want to bother you. You're not approachable.
Think about it. Would you want to approach someone like that? Probably not. So when you feel that urge to fold your arms across your chest like a shield, stop. Be conscious of its effect. Then relax and do something else with your arms and hands.
5. Give options for communication. Your friends, colleagues, customers and co-workers communicate with you in different ways. Some will choose face-to-face; some will e-mail; others will call; still others will do a little of everything. Accommodate them all. Give people as many ways as you can to contact you. Make it easy and pleasant.
On your business cards, e-mail signatures, websites and marketing materials, let people know they can get in touch with you in whatever manner they choose. Maybe you prefer e-mail, but what matters most is the other person's comfort and ability to communicate with you effectively. There's nothing more annoying to a phone person than to discover she can't get a hold of you unless she e-mails you.
6. Always have business cards. At one time or another you've probably been on either the telling or listening end of a story about a successful, serendipitous business encounter that ended with the phrase, "Thank goodness I had one of my business cards with me that day." If you recall saying something like that yourself, great. You're practicing approachability by being easy to reach.
If not, you've no doubt missed out on valuable relationships and opportunities. And it happens. People forget cards, neglect to get their supply reprinted or change jobs. Always remember: There is a time and a place for networking--any time and any place. You just never know who you might meet.
7. Conquer your fear of rejection. Do you ever hear yourself saying, "They won't say hello back to me. They won't be interested in me. I will make a fool of myself"?
Fear is the number one reason people don't start conversations--fear of rejection, fear of inadequacy and fear of looking foolish. But practice will make this fear fade. The more you start conversations, the better you become at it. So be the first to introduce yourself, or simply to say hello. When you take an active rather than passive role, you develop your skills and lower your chances of rejection.
8. Wear your name tag. We've heard every possible excuse not to wear name tags, and all of them can be rebutted:
"Name tags look silly." Yes, they do. But, remember, everyone else is wearing one, too.
"Name tags ruin my clothes." Not if you wear them on the edge of your lapel, or use cloth-safe connectors, like lanyards and plastic clips.
"But I already know everybody." No, you don't. You may think you do, but people join and leave businesses and organizations all the time.
"But everyone already knows me." No, they don't. Even the best networkers know there's always someone new to meet.
Your name tag is your best friend for several reasons. First of all, a person's name is the single piece of personal information most often forgotten--and people are less likely to approach you if they don't know (or have forgotten) your name. Second, it's free advertising for you and your company. Third, name tags encourage people to be friendly and more approachable.
Ginsberg 's axiom about the CPI is particularly powerful in networking for your business. Consider the people you know best right now. If you know them through work, they all share work with you as a CPI. If you know them through your soccer league, they share your interest in soccer. With that in mind, you could be attracting people who later--after you've built a relationship starting from this common ground--could help your business.