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The Khaa-mat!!! of Networking

The Art of Building POWER 1st Connects in Focused Networking
“Hi, I am Ajit Kamath, (in Hindi) log mujhe kehte hai Khaa... (pause) mat, lekin mera nam hai Ajit Kamath”, Translating in English - “Hi, I am Ajit Kamath, people tell me DON’T EAT! (that’s the literal Hindi translation of Khaa Mat), however my name is Ajit Kamath”.
For a bit-plump-on-the-sides me, this gives a smile on the face of the person I am meeting for the first time and then our conversation moves forward. 
I have been asked, why do I say this?
And my answer is “Why Not?”
I have had students, managers and leaders remember me and the work I do, by this humourous line of an introduction! And if there is high-recall (meaning the next time I bump into the person, they can at least recall my name) then this is a million-$ intro for me.
The Art of Focused Networking requires one to connect first, and then build the relationship into a long-term mutually beneficial relationship.
And the challenge for most of us, is not the build-up of the relationship later, it’s the 1st CONNECT!
But before I cycle this way, let me speak about:
WHAT DO BAD NETWORKERS DO?
  • Pushing of Business Cards
  • Only objective is to Get the Business Cards of others
  • Flattery– making yourself go sugary all over the connect
  • You connect and then ‘stick around’ unnecessarily like a pest
  • Extrovert need– while speaking to one; your eyes are looking out for other people to connect to.
  • __________ (you can add a few more in the comment section)
So Focused Networking is about Networking with identified contacts.
This is neither about being an extrovert nor about networking with every Tom, Dick & Harry you meet!
In my Networking Skills workshops that I deliver for Companies, I share a framework.
I call it the POWER framework:

P – PRAISE

This is like the gear that gets the car moving.
If you are authentic and do it with finesse the car moves smoothly or else if not, then be ready for jerks.
There is a subtle difference between Praise/Appreciation and Flattery. Don't mess it up!


O – OWN REMEMBRANCE

The 2nd step - this is where the "Khaa-mat" part comes in.
What’s so unique about your name?
What will stick?
What will create high-recall?
Or maybe create something else, that will hook the listener

W – WANT HELP!

The 3rd step - The principle of Reciprocity is all about give and take.
Here we set up the ‘take’ first.
Be ready with your “I need Help/ Support!”
Ask support in the form of knowledge, information, opinion, advice, suggestion, way forward, mentoring etc.
Be a learner!


E – EXPERTISE LANDING / EXCHANGE CARDS

The 4th step - this being the give’ part of the Reciprocity principle.
Offer Help!
If the contact believes that you would be of a higher importance to them, they surely would take efforts to remember you.
Start building up your expertise in your domain, interests, hobbies, trivia such that you become an expert that others would have to reach out to.
 Few examples from my space of networking:
  • I have networked with a voracious reader –now, before I buy a book, I surely ask her for her opinion.
  • Being an ex-theater artiste and an Applied Improviser, I have networks who reach out to me if they want to incorporate the same in their internal trainings'. And mind you, few of these are HR Heads.
  • Being part of the founding team of IAF India Chapter, gives others (in some cases – people whom I always wanted to network with) a need to be connected to me.
  • Recently my interest on flip-chart art (and sketch-notes ... see images in this article) is slowly and steadily building an expertise that will later give you a reason to be connected to me. Do be connected, my dear readers!
This is also the step, where people who like handing out Business Cards, do so… go ahead, exchange them now. 


R – REMOVE SELF

IRRITATINGLY, few people just stick-around like unwanted pests.
‘Remove Yourself’ at the right time. You connected – great! – now move out – build the relationship later - it’s better than sticking around unnecessarily. 
The network also needs to meet others and connect (or vice-versa) and you aren't the only one there.
So now that we have a framework to help us build the 1st connects, go ahead, and use it.
If you have never connected this way, then my request is to first experience with non-critical connects, practice it till the point of finesse and then conquer the networked world!
Or then, ask us to run a program for you on "The Art of Focused Networking" or get coached ;-)

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