Mind the Gap

With all of the hullaballoo regarding the Wills and Kate nuptuals finally dying down (enough already), the very British expression of “Mind the Gap” can be repurposed as a networking tip. For the uninitiated (or disinterested), “Mind the GAP” in Colloquial Brit-speak means to be conscious of the space between the platform and the car, typically referring to the London Tubes. While we are not talking about that, I thought it may represent a handy mnemonic for those networking events to remind yourself of what you should be doing instead of snagging fish and chips or quaffing a malted beverage.

GAP is an acronym for Go deep, Ask and Peel.

We all know what we are supposed to do at networking events, whether it is your weekly BNI or the first Chamber event of the calendar year. While saying hello to those familiar is easy, we’d like to encourage you to meet at least one new person in the room (holding yourself to a stretch goal of 4-5 new people is preferable, particularly if you are new to the group). To come off as the Masterful Networker that you can be in these situations, remember to … Mind the GAP.

Go Deep
Engage in a real conversation with your new acquaintance. Resist the urge to thrust a card in his or her hand, grab one of theirs and move on. Rather, spend time trying to get to know them better, what they do, what keeps them awake at night, what their plans for their business may be. By listening to cues in what they say and how they say them, you will develop a better understanding of how you may be able to partner with them, whether as a referral partner, or perhaps, ultimately, in a client relationship. Don’t push the latter at your first meeting; that is a sure signal that you are there only for your own benefit. The purpose behind Go Deep is to benefit the other person.

Ask questions of your new acquaintance to ferret out how you may be able to be a resource to them. It is in your best interest to be selfless in your interaction and mine the conversation for how you can help them. The goal is to create a trust relationship, because we all do business with people that we know, like and trust. If you shower them with questions that make them feel as though they were struck by a hail of bullets, or worse, that you are trying to manipulate them, you have lost the intent.

Peel the onion with all of the information that you are gleaning. Hopefully, you will be able to help them with an issue, suggest a strategy that may work for their situation or at the very least, be remembered as a selfless individual who is truly interested in their success for their sake.

Try to Mind the GAP at your next networking opportunity and see the benefits to building relationships. Tally ho!