My name is Cami Baker from camibaker.com. I’m the author of Mingled to Millions: The Art and Science of Building Business Relations and Mastering Referrals, and I have not always been able to build business relationships and master referrals.
Starting from the Bottom-How I Got Started
About 16 years ago, I had moved to a new part of the country. I was a single mother, I was an alcoholic, and I was in a bad place. I share this because I want people to understand; I have heard people say, “I don’t have time to network. I’m not outgoing. I don’t have anything to offer. I don’t know what what to say.” I’d really like people to understand that I could go from being in a single mother with alcohol problems to one day saying that, if anyone is going to fix this, that would be me.
I picked up books; I picked up going to seminars; I got mentors and coaches. Over the years, I went from having a job that I absolutely hated, where I undervalued myself and they undervalued me, and I stepped back into being an entrepreneur.
More People vs. Higher Quality People
The first thing I needed was to meet not only more people, but higher-quality people. I started going out networking and I did it really badly. Over the years, I went to classes for personality styles, body language, sales techniques, and NLP. The further I got away from booze and the further I got into self-development, I built this system to be able to network professionally, profitably, and productively.
I wrote this book because I know the anxiety. I remember sitting in my car before an event looking in the rearview mirror and saying: “you can do this.” Because I had to: I wanted my daughter to have more in life, so the sheer nature of a survival mode made me go to those events.
I went to thousands of them, and people ended up asking me how I went to a networking event at 7 o’clock in the morning, and by the end of the day, somebody had joined my business, signed a contract, or started doing business with me. So I started to mentor one person at a time, sitting in a Panera’s. Then I had dozens of people in my living room and then before you know it, I was on hundreds of stages, in front of thousands of people virtually and live.
You Don’t Have to Be Extroverted to Network
I was interviewed about a year ago by a professional networker, and she said, “Because we’re extroverted”—and I stopped her because I’m not extroverted. I’m actually rather introverted, and it’s really important that I share that because maybe only 5% really are extroverted and enjoy going to events. And I have a lot of friends who are extremely extroverted, but they are still not very good networkers. Even they don’t know how to follow up and have a business relationship.
For each one of the personalities, none of them are right or wrong. Sometimes, someone who is really outgoing needs to learn how to stop talking so that they can actually listen. So for people who aren’t extroverted, it’s good because that means you can be a good listener.
Intention, Attention, Retention
I love to give a really simple analogy. We want to set the intention, so that we can pay attention, so that we can then create the retention of the resources, relationships, and revenue. We want set the intention before we even go. One of the many ways I teach my clients do that is to research, reach out, and relationship-build. For example, you can do this before you’re going to meet-up group.
There’s a whole list of everybody that is going. Just take a look and see who you might resonate with. Now that you’ve researched, you can reach out: send them an email, call them, check out their website. Instead of just walking in and not knowing anybody, now you have people you can focus on actually finding and make it fun.
Now we want to pay attention at the event. How are we postured? How are we presenting ourselves? Are we just walking around or do you have something more interesting to talk about? We want to be a spider, placing a connection there and a connection there to create this web. But that happens because we’re paying attention at the event in creating these connections.
Then we flow into creating the retention. One of the best ways to create retention is to only focus on the few as opposed to many. I used to make the mistake of grabbing all these cards and leaving with with 15, 20, 30 cards. Focus on 3 so you can create the retention.
Now I take notes on the back of the physical card so if I follow up, I have something of value that I can say. I can remind them of where we met, what we talked about, and I can create the resources, the relationships, and the revenue that we’re all looking to create when we go to these events.
Where Should I Go First?
When people first start networking, they ask me where they should go physically. Networking doesn’t have to be boring. It doesn’t have to be some place that you dread going to. Go to place you really want to go to.
You also don’t want to stay just local or go to events just because they’re free and convenient. If you pay $20 or $50 to get into an event, guess what so did everybody else—totally qualified people right off the bat. You want to go to regional events overnight or national events for couple of days. Don’t get me wrong, I go to local free events too; you never know who you’re going to meet. But I just want people to understand the mentality. And if you going to go to a free local event, you need to be researching, reaching out, and relationship-building with the movers and shakers before you get there.
This is about having a business mind. Networking doesn’t work because it is random activity. Networking leverages your time through planned strategy. So if you’re going to go to the networking events, just have a planned strategy so you’re leveraging your time. Make a mental note to yourself as to who the coordinators, speakers, or sponsors are. For example, I went to meet-up in Boston about a month ago, and the sponsors who brought the coffee were great contacts for me because when I’m doing an event, I want sponsors too.
At that particular event with 100 people in the room, I spoke directly to the guy who put the event on and I got the card of the sponsors—and those were all the contacts I needed to make. I didn’t need 10 business cards. I had a planned strategy as to why was there.
Focus on the Few
My philosophy is that we focus on the few and not just the mirage of the mass. I researched and reached out to the people I wanted to talk to before. I really certainly focused on creating a relationship with this person. I followed up with the leader of the group to ask what I could do for him first. Who can I offer to introduce them to first? What event can I tell them about that will be a win-win for them first?
The law of reciprocity says that if I do something for you, you naturally want to reciprocate and do something for me. Now there’s this beautiful synergy of collaboration before I start asking for things, or maybe I don’t have to ask because I’ve been so generous with giving that they just naturally want to give back.
First of all, get to the event early (15 minutes early is on time, on-time is late, late is unacceptable). You can be at the front table to help sign people in. When you’re at the front table, you meet everybody. You can be the unofficial ambassador introducing people and setting the foundation, so later on when you do follow up, they remember you. You are bridging the humanity gap so that when you do follow up is not a struggle of what to say.
Stop Thinking About Yourself
People don’t have a problem having relationships: you have friends, romantic relationships, and family. We don’t struggle with what to say with people we like. We do it in business situations because we feel like there’s some hidden agenda. If we’re feeling awkward about how we should communicate, it’s because we’re thinking about ourselves. Stop thinking about yourself. Think about that how can you be a benefit to that person. When you start thinking about them, all that awkwardness and anxiety goes away, and you just focus on helping them. Nature takes its course and they naturally want to do the same to you.
It’s all about mindset. When I meet someone, I don’t want to think about how can I sell them or when can I give them my pitch. It’s more about: is this someone that I can serve? Because if you help enough people get what they want you, you naturally get what you want. You could look at it as selling 1,000 products at $100 and naturally getting your $100,000 for the year. Or, you could consider what the service is you’re providing that will put the $100,00 in your pocket. It’s just a different way of thinking about it.
It’s All About the Company You Keep
People suck at networking because they were just never were taught. In school we are taught to be factory workers. We are taught to follow the status quo and we’re taught so many things that just don’t matter. People will go out networking and they will struggle with it. We as human beings know how to communicate. We talk to our friends. There’s no weird pressure of selling something. We meet people, and we like them or we don’t.
We create a conversation, and we move on with our lives and our relationships. It’s getting into these business situations where people feel the pressure about selling. They’re in survival mode like I was. Here’s what I’m suggesting: when we take a deep breath and lift the pressure off, people actually can likes us. They can get to know us, and isn’t it true that people do business with people that they like, trust, and want to spend time with?
Don’t be so concerned about the company someone represents. Be more cognizant of the company they keep. In other words, people think that if they’re a real estate agent, they need to meet mortgage people. That’s the company they represent, but if you don’t like them, don’t take their card and torture yourself. Only ask for the cards of people you really want to communicate with, and do it within a week. Subconsciously when we ask for a card, we’re saying that we want to follow up and do business with that person. And when we never do, there’s a lack of integrity.
To recap, we want to set the intention long before we go to the event. One of the intention is to research, reach-out, and relationship build. Now that we’re at the events, we want to pay attention. One way is to create fun conversation and focus on the few so that when we go into the creating of the retention, now we can actually follow up with people who want to hear from us.
If anybody watching wants to go to camibaker.com/gift, I have a free e-book and videos that talk a little about this and go into more detail. My book Mingle to Millions is on Amazon. And I love to speak. I do it virtually or face-to-face, and if you’re in the northwest region or the West Coast, hook up with me and we can see about doing a live event.