3 Best Practices in Networking

Tis the season…for the Close Protection Conference! We are less than 3 months away from another incredible experience in Vegas…and yes, I mean the CPC!

As we grow nearer to the CPC and the holiday following, it’s time to brush up on our Networking skills. Well, maybe not so much our skills but DEFINITELY our mindset around Networking.

In my last blog we talked about WHY we Network. Let’s adjust ever so slightly and talk about HOW to get the most out of not only Networking at the CPC but anytime and anywhere we find ourselves. This will be inevitably valuable when we are all at holiday parties throughout December with family members, co-workers, friends of our significant other’s 😉 and so forth.

Allow me to identify 3 best practices while Networking:

First…and I mean FIRST…Smile. Smile when you meet someone for the first time. I realize there is a lot of military, police, Feds, security professionals, etc. in the crowd. And we are all serious doing a serious job. But greet new (and existing, for that matter) contacts with a smile. It is the quickest, easiest and least expensive way, BY FAR, to improve your appearance.

An authentic smile is a couple things: It’s inviting. When people see you smiling, even if it’s not at them, they are more inclined to feel welcomed to join a conversation. And that’s what we are looking for while we are networking, agreed? It’s also encouraging. Have you ever walked up to someone new, even after being introduced, and the person doesn’t smile until after he/she meets you, or sometimes not at all? I cannot stand that! Don’t be that person. Be the person someone wants to get to know even before you meet 🙂 And finally, smiling is a no shit way to improve your mood. It is scientifically proven that even if you are in a bad mood and you force an authentic smile, your happiness goes up and your stress level goes down. Anyone ever stressed walking into a Networking event?

Second, and you’ve read the word a couple times now. Practice authenticity. Being yourself is exactly who you should be. But, you must be the best version of yourself. Anything less is unacceptable. You owe it to yourself to be your best and to the people you will be meeting.

The easy part of this is when conversations are happening around things we know. However, while Networking, we are often around new people with different experiences. Nothing screams authenticity like showing a little humility. Become a student, if even momentarily, and ask questions. Especially for the newcomers to the industry, take this opportunity to learn the lessons the storyteller learned without having to go through it. Networking is so much about learning from others, it’s absolutely crazy! Take the opportunity and use it for everything you can get!

Which leads me to the third practice, be interested NOT interesting. Which is to say, listen before you speak. Show interest in others. This can be tough because we want to share our story (Ourselves is our favorite topic!). We will get our chance. Spend time listening to others. Allow them to talk then ask follow up questions, then let them talk, and ask another follow up question, etc., etc. and so forth. And here’s the most important idea to this, listen then respond to what the other person is talking about. Don’t wait for them to stop talking so you can start. If that person is doing it right, they will then ask all about you. There’s your chance!

This reminds me of an excerpt from Devora Zack’s book “Networking for people who hate Networking.” She tells the story of meeting a gentleman at a Networking event and they speak for about 15 minutes, of which, she speaks for about 3. At the end of the discussion, they exchange cards and go on about their business. In the near future, she got a follow up email from the same guy saying how much he enjoyed their conversation and how he was looking forward to referring her business. She let him talk, that’s what he needed, she then benefitted from being a fantastic listener. Nothing wrong with being a listener! You can learn way more that way 😉

Anyway, that does it. Smile, be authentic and be interested not interesting. Work at all three of these and you’ll find your time at the CPC, family gatherings, parties, etc. much more valuable, and because of that, much more fun!

Stay safe out there!

Craig McKim, PPS; Executive Protection Institute Graduate, NLA Member

For questions on networking, feel free to email me at Craig@craigmckimbizdev.com or follow me on FB (Craig McKim Business Development) or Instagram (@craigmckimbizdev)

Networking

For those of you that attended the Close Protection Conference in Vegas a couple months ago had the opportunity to hear some world-class lectures and panels from some of the best in the business. Topics ranged from EP to disaster response to international cyber invasions. It was fascinating and INCREDIBLY informative. And the best part about it was, that after the speakers and panel members spoke, they hung around to chat and network!

Another topic that was discussed was the importance of networking in EP/Protection/Security. A couple of panel members spoke on it in The Business of EP panel. One panelist mentioned how networking was big for gaining new clients minus the cost of marketing and another how networking WITH his existing clients (read “customer service”) prolonged and secured future business.

Before we get to far, let me say that networking is seldom about what the other person can do for you. That gets overlooked. If one is a solid individual and performer, business and favor may follow but it is not WHY we network.

Here are a few reasons WHY we should network:

We should network to build relationships. But why should we build relationships? To get to know someone and let someone get to know you, if even only in a professional sense, can build credibility. This is where the business can happen. This is where I get a call in Vegas from an East Coast protector I’ve never met face to face (and still haven’t to this day) saying I was referred by a mutual contact that said I’m “the guy” in Vegas and can I help him. Turns out I couldn’t but, because my credibility came before our relationship, I directed him to someone else he never met and there was an instant level of trust. That’s how networking can work.

It can keep us current on the happenings of our chosen industry. EP in particular has many challenges potentially domestically and internationally every hour of every day. The ability to be able to offer intel on an incident or gather it easily from someone you’ve met and built a relationship with can be priceless. But it doesn’t end at international incidents. Anything industry specific or that greatly affects the industry (like maybe a CCW bill) can be shared quickly with and from trusted resources.

And finally, at least for this write up, networking can keep a group of like-minded professionals moving toward a common goal. Events such as the CPC are so valuable. It’s a chance to promote best practices, share lessons learned and offer reasons to continue to professionalize this or any industry.

Networking is not for the faint of heart. It’s not netsit or neteat or netdrink, its Network. Networking takes time. It takes time to build a network and it takes time to maintain it. But the time taken will definitely be worth it.

Thank you for your attention!

Craig McKim, PPS; Executive Protection Institute Graduate, NLA Member

For questions on networking, feel free to email me at Craig@craigmckimbizdev.com or follow me on FB (Craig McKim Business Development) or Instagram (@craigmckimbizdev)

#TBT Personal Protection Networking

In honor of “Throw Back Thursday” we reached into our Archives and found a great article “Personal Protection Networking” written by Dr. Richard W. Kobetz, Founder of Executive Protection Institute in 2003. Much of the information shared in the article still holds true today!

It is most interesting that many would-be Personal Protection Specialists have taken the inconvenience and expense of investing in a formal education at a college or university; have taken a long-term training program, or have served in the armed forces. Each endeavor represents considerable expense, tremendous investment of time and/or performance of studies and duties. Neither individually nor collectively have these accomplishments resulted in or guaranteed success in obtaining or actual performance in a position. Still some in the Personal Protection field believe that with the investment of a few thousand dollars and one week of instruction in a program, there is instant professional performance capability for this new career. And, having completed a few dozen hours of training, they are now qualified to immediately perform personal protection services alongside career agents with years of on-the-job experience. Possible for some, but not a likely possibility for most. But, nevertheless, the first step in any career field, as many a job seeker can attest to, is to find a position you are qualified and selected for.

Top ten percenters will recognize that you first must intelligently build a solid foundation of ability. This may begin with formal education, training programs, reading and learning all there is available to you on the subject. These accomplishments are blended with solid personal traits of honesty, courtesy, humor and personal discipline. Your anticipation must consider your ability to be adaptable, dependable and flexible in your position as a personal protection practitioner. And most important of all, you network in order to obtain contacts that may directly or indirectly assist you with opportunities for employment.

Networking has been around for a long time, however, most of us still do not fully understand what it really is. Basically, it connects people with people. It is a valuable form of communication, and the key to success is making it work for you. You must be committed, dedicated and motivated to network by understanding what it means to personal and business success.

Sending or handing out a business card, brochure, letter or any other paper or cardboard connection and waiting for the telephone to ring is not networking. People have to meet you, talk to you and get to know you in order to form opinions about you before they will reach a conclusion to work with you or offer you a job. They have a great deal more at risk than you have if they have made the wrong choice.

We are in a professionally dangerous time in history where many men and women have adopted the philosophy of self-importance based upon an illusion of “you can do anything you want to do,” or “have it your way.” After all, you must be assertive and have self- confidence, not be used or abused, and no one can tamper with your illusion of reality. [This may be true if you have taken the time and inconvenience to “become” someone, rather than the all too common notion of wanting “to be” someone instantly]

Keep in mind the awareness of ego, which is the most common problem blocking success today. “Good ego,” like “good cholesterol,” is the belief that you can succeed, coupled with the ability and the capability to perform, which is something you need to perform the job well. As opposed to bad ego, like bad cholesterol, which can cause you problems, when you are not really able or capable of performance in the required manner for the specific assignment, and somehow you believe you have the absolute correct answer for any challenge.

Remember, who you know and who knows you is the basis of networking, and you never outgrow your need for contacts. Networking is not just appearing somewhere one time; it is interacting with people. A network activity merely gives you a place to do it. You build your own network just like one builds anything worthwhile: slowly, with patience and quality. Whether it works or not is ultimately up to you. Remember, with all contacts you have one opportunity to make a first impression. Mistakes and errors are costly and very difficult to correct, and gossip and rumor-mongers love to spread negative, not positive information about your mistakes. As in all endeavors, the losers of life are waiting to attack the beginners and the winners.

Networking is not an event. It is a process of building relationships. By becoming part of a networking organization you are not taking over other people’s networks. You have to do more than merely pay dues to a professional organization; you must appear at activities and events and make personal connections with people. Talk to people, be curious, ask questions and follow through if you make commitments to call or send an article of interest. Do not have dead- end conversations. Be open and articulate. Networking is an exchange, not an exploitation. Give more than you get. Personal contacts will always get things done; they speed up the process to success. You are the C.E.O. of your own network, and it is totally your responsibility. No one else can do it for you.

REMEMBER

  • Networking Never Stops. Use Every Opportunity.
  • Courtesy and Politeness Work Magic.
  • Networking Works Both Ways. Listen Before You Speak.
  • Your Most Important Asset Is Your Reputation.
  • Networking Is A Connector.
  • Nothing Less Than Your Best Is Ever Good Enough.
  • Don’t Worry About Who’s Right. Worry About What’s Right.
  • Ability Is Nothing Without Opportunity. Network for Opportunities.
  • Never SUBMIT Your Resume Unless Requested to Do So.
  • There Are No Limits to Networking. Keep At It.

Copyright © 2003, Executive Protection Institute