Every day I take my dogs to a local park near my home. And tomorrow I’m going to my first live networking event since before the pandemic.
What do these things have in common and what does it have to do with attracting new clients?
As you can see, dogs tend to naturally network with people – especially if they’re giving out treats. That’s me in the picture, with a small pack of fur babies waiting for a handout.
I’ve been taking my two dogs to this park for a little more than two years. I go every day in the late afternoon.
What I didn’t expect were all the great people I’d meet.
We all seem to have two things in common. We love our dogs and we also like other people.
We stand around chatting and socializing while the dogs interact playfully in their own unique way.
Sometimes new people come close to our gathering of people and dogs and we introduce both ourselves and our dogs.
“I’m Robert with Meera and Dylan. That’s Ann with Mya and Charles, and that’s Jim and Jane with Mazie, etc.”
Yesterday, a new person with the cutest little black fuzzball of a dog named Razzle, remarked, “I really like this scene!”
I replied, “Yes, we all love or dogs and we enjoy each other’s company. And most of us come every day. It’s a great way to unwind after a busy day cooped up in an office. Great to have you here!”
When we meet someone new, the first thing out of our mouths is, “What’s your dog’s name, what’s his breed, how long have you owned him?”
Meeting people with the buffer of a cute dog is pretty easy. Often, we have no idea what someone else does for a living for several months.
I wish networking events were as easy and relaxed.
Often networking gatherings are a group of strangers and most feel a little awkward and uneasy.
We come up to someone and before anything else, we ask them, “What’s business are you in?”
And then, more often than not, they talk your ear off without ever asking you a question back.
Any kind of real connection goes out the window as everyone is trying to impress everyone else by talking about their business.
Is there a way to make networking gatherings as casual and fun as meeting friends in a dog park?
Well, here’s what you might try:
First of all, don’t open with the question everyone else does, “What’s your business?”
I’d suggest, “Do you have a dog?”
If they don’t, move on until you find someone who does.
Didn’t expect that did you?
But why not?
You know, it seems that dogs are the universal solvent. They relax things, they make things happier and funnier.
And someone who owns a dog is someone I’d more likely enjoy doing business with.
In any case, I’m going to that networking event tomorrow, asking people if they have dogs and then finishing off the day at the dog park.
“A dog will teach you unconditional love. If you can have that in your life, things won’t be too bad.” – Robert Wagner