This Unconventional Networking Trick Will Make You Instantly Unforgettable

yoga and fitness classes can be a business networking option

LONDON - SEPTEMBER 21: Models work out at the adidas by Stella McCartney s/s 2011 fashion show in Fitzroy Square during London Fashion Week on September 21, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Getty Images for adidas)

I’ve talked before on this blog about how to make those first few minutes at a networking event way less awkward. What about when you’re not at a networking event, though? What do you do in those one-on-one networking meetings? How do you make sure you’re instantly unforgettable?

This Unconventional #Networking Trick Will Make You Instantly Unforgettable, by @RajNATION Click To TweetLast summer I sent my Idea Lemon audience a survey with the following question:

When you ask to meet someone for the first time (this could be a professional connection, a friendly encounter, or even a date) what do you typically suggest?

  • Let’s grab coffee
  • Let’s grab a drink
  • Other (lunch, tea, let the other person pick)

The poll results showed that coffee was coming back at 49%, followed by an alcoholic libation at 27%. Reading through the “other” responses, I found out that everyone said their go-to move was either suggesting lunch or tea (instead of coffee) or letting the other person pick drinks or coffee.

When it comes to professional networking, I’m a beer guy and I try to opt for an evening drink when the schedule allows it. But when it doesn’t, I default to a daytime coffee (even though I don’t drink coffee).

Let me now tell you the story of a woman named Jeana Cohen who changed my perception of introductory meetings.

.@JeanaAnderson from @aSweatLife changed the way I think about #networking—@RaJNATION Click To Tweet

Jeana is an entrepreneur and fitness instructor and her company is aSweat Life.

I first came across aSweat Life when I attended one of their monthly Sweatworking events in Chicago. It was a really fun time. Each month they pick a different type of exercise and studio, you pay $15 to reserve your spot, you meet people, get an awesome goodie bag from their partner sponsors, and get a great sweat in.

Jeana and I said “Hi” to each other during that workout session and that was about it.

A couple of days later, I received her email newsletter. She wrote a story that really resonated with me, so I decided to reply asking to meet up and network to see how we could support each other’s businesses.

In my request, I defaulted to the standard “let’s get coffee”.

Here’s what Jeana responded with:

Jeana email 1

I was free to attend, so I said ‘Absolutely!’ and I went and took her class.

It was one of the hardest, sweatiest, most endorphin-producing workouts I’ve ever endured in my life.

Let me bring this back to the original survey question. According to the results, everyone suggests to get coffee, drinks, or lunch.

Now compare that to Jeana, who pulls off what I now call the Jeana Meeting Method.

In the midst of doing medicine ball squats I thought to myself,

This is incredible. I’m never going to forget this.

See, there are plenty of fitness instructors out there. But Jeana is now the one who is memory burned because she’s the instructor who, instead of just grabbing coffee, had me take her class and busted my tail.

If you want to stand out, suggest fun activities instead of coffee for networking—@RajNATION Click To Tweet

After class ended we had a great conversation for 20 minutes which, within one week, resulted in:

  • Me writing a story about her on the Idea Lemon blog (totally my choice—she did NOT ask me to).
  • Me referring people to check out aSweat Life. You should too.
  • Me referring Chicago Ideas Week to write a feature post on her.
  • Her and one of her team members getting involved in a product we beta tested for Idea Lemon.

And six months later, she was a guest on my podcast.

Let’s break down the Jeana Meeting Method, because there are a few things in play here. Here’s her email again:

Jeana email 1

Jeana accomplishes three things in this note:

  1. She merges interests. Rather than have to carve out new time to meet with me, she works me into what she’s already doing.
  2. She creates a barrier to entry. By asking me to take her class, she’ll know immediately that if I say “no, that’s not for me”, I’m probably not someone whose interests will align with hers. She makes sure that she’s only allowing high-quality interactions into her life because she knows her time is valuable.
  3. She suggests something different, which ends up making her instantly memorable, and helps her stand out from the rest. You know what’s way better than those awkward first couple of minutes when you meet someone for coffee and say pedantic things like, “Sooo where are you from”? Starting a conversation with “Man—that was a GREAT sweat. You have to tell me how you got started with aSweat Life.”
To be #unforgettable, follow your interests, be selective, suggest something different—@RajNATION Click To Tweet

It doesn’t have to be taking a fitness class. Think about the things you’re interested in, and how you can merge, create that barrier to entry to only allow high quality interactions in, and become instantly memorable.

I’ve adopted this method since meeting Jeana. I now ask people who want to meet to come take a yoga class with me or attend a workshop I teach, and it flat-out makes for a better relationship.

Fun #networking ideas make for better professional relationships—@RajNATION Click To Tweet

When the chips are down and everyone does the same old thing, what can YOU do to stand out from the rest?

You can be just another instructor/lawyer/designer/entrepreneur/marketer, OR you can be the person who is instantly unforgettable because you did something different on your first meeting.

Next time, try the Jeana Meeting Method.

Photo credit: adifansnet

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Rajiv Nathan is a human Curious George, chasing a yellow hat called realness. He’s an adjunct instructor at Startup Institute, and co-founder and Ambassador of Awesome for Idea Lemon. Idea Lemon helps you Discover Your Inner Awesome and unlock your creative genius through its Edutainment platform. Think of Schoolhouse Rock for adults. Discover Your Inner Awesome at www.idealemon.com.


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