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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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How to Approach a New Contact

 

The old mantra of “it’s not what you know it’s who you know” has been repeated so often that it is unlikely anybody who spent more than five minutes in the real world is unaware of it. The importance of networking is becoming prominent and being drummed into our heads, but there is a major problem that plagues all attempts at building a network: just how do you approach a stranger? Our world has become increasingly isolated, so approaching a person you have never met before in order to form a connection can be a source of anxiety if you do not know what you are doing.

To help anxious people, we have compiled a handy guide on how to approach potential contacts and establish the foundations for a lifelong connection.

Do Your Homework

It is pointless to approach somebody if you do not know who they are in the first place. Without understanding their place of business or having an inkling of what they are like, you are probably just going to create an awkward situation and ultimately fail to forge any kind of connection. As such, before you send that first e-mail or make that first contact, go on social media and pull what info you can.

You do not have to dive deep, and knowing too much about a person could make you seem like a stalker, but make sure you know all details pertinent to your reason for contacting them. Often this includes things like where they’ve worked, who they’ve worked for in the past, professional accomplishments, and more. Doing your homework shows that you are genuinely interested in the connection and is more likely to turn up something you can talk about.

Reach Out Using the Method Most Comfortable for You

There is no right medium for that first connection, and you want to come across as confident and certain of yourself. To that end, make sure you are using a method of outreach that is most comfortable for you. Some people have an easier time sending e-mails, others prefer to reach out by phone, still others prefer direct messaging. Whatever method you use, make sure it is one you’re comfortable with and that you know the other person uses.

You may have to adapt a bit depending on who you are contacting, and for some people their contact information is harder to dig up than others. Just make sure that you are able to project confidence when you make that initial outreach.

Be Persistent, Not Pushy

When you first reach out, do not be shocked if the person you are contacting cannot get back to you right away. In fact, if you are not going in by way of introduction and are cold calling people, don’t be surprised if you are rebuffed entirely. Be persistent in your outreach efforts, but if after the second or third attempt they make it clear they’re still not interested or ask you directly to not contact them again, then drop the matter.

A person who is not receptive to your outreach is not a person who can be made receptive. Even if you somehow corner them they’re not likely to do what you want them to do and such an approach could prejudice them against you. Be persistent, but know when it is time to drop the matter.

Keep in Touch

Once you have forged that connection, keep it alive. At this point it should be easier, but people often lose touch with people they have formed a connection with due to life. Using applications like Covve to help sort out your contacts and schedule calls or e-mails can be a great way to lighten the load. Just make sure that you do not let yourself go a year without talking to somebody, as rebuilding that connection can be just as challenging (if not more so) than starting from scratch.

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