How Networking and M&Ms Led to a New Hire

By: Matt Gainsford

Author

Outside of public speaking, networking can be one of the most uncomfortable aspects of any job.  In this tight talent market, networking is critical to help companies capture top talent that might otherwise not be looking for a new role.

So, how do you crack the art of networking? For me, something clicked recently on a flight from Minneapolis to Milwaukee.

It was late, and I was very tired.  As we taxied for the runway, I was met with the kindness of a stranger (who had accidentally sat in the wrong seat next to mine) who offered me a pack of Peanut M&Ms.

My first inclination was to decline the offer, but I accepted, then proceeded to drop them on to the floor in front of me!  Thankfully, the kindness of my seat mate continued and that’s when it began……

The opportunity to network is everywhere!  Just open your eyes and keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Here are my four steps for networking success:

Awareness:

How many people do you see walking around with their heads slumped?  Make it a point to say hello to everyone, even if it is a little forced. If you’re looking at the ground, you can’t network.

It comes down to being recognized. Do you want to be the person who fades into the background of the movie or the one who shines on the big screen?  Open your eyes, open your ears; pay somebody a compliment; ask somebody a question, offer somebody something (a peanut M&M).

Kindness:

Pay somebody a compliment; open a door; offer somebody something; smile; look for a genuine way to do something nice for someone; give them an opportunity to talk about themselves and most importantly, listen.

If you enter a room, departure lounge, grocery store, football game or pretty much anywhere with your eyes open and the mindset to do something kind and helpful regardless of whether it leads anywhere, you never know what could happen. It’s a simple as offering someone an M&M and asking a question.

Discovering Gold:

The greatest and most fulfilling conversations start with an open-ended question that encourages someone to talk about themselves.  On the plane, I could have left it at an M&M and watched my movie, but I decided to strike up conversation.  “Is Milwaukee your final stop; where are you travelling from?” “I’ve been at Gallup conference; I’m a certified coach”, came the answer.

“I love Gallup, I know Strength’s Finder; I work in recruiting.”, I said.  GAME ON! By listening to what my new friend had to stay, and how she said it, I was then given the opportunity to tailor my responses to draw out more questions. I talked about my company and our radically different approach to recruiting.  We also talked how Titus Talent partners with organizations and uses tools like Predictive Index during the interview process. Lastly, I was also able to share about our unique and dynamic culture.

She was so amazed by what we do and how we do it, she wanted to join our team by the end of the flight!

Instead of asking closed-ended questions, try asking the following:

  1. What are you building?
  2. If you could do or be anything, what would that be?
  3. What are you most proud of?
  4. What are you most excited about?

Asking interesting, open-ended questions will help begin the networking process and the conversation will flow like M&Ms on a domestic flight.

There you have it; a little awareness, kindness, and the desire to pull out the gold; you’ll be connecting in no time, making friends, developing opportunities and crushing deals.  In the words of my friend and colleague, Dante Houston (one of the most successful networkers at Titus Talent), any networking is better than no networking!

To learn more with Titus Talent, visit our blog page.

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