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How Can I Break Into Cliques?

By Nancy Roebke
Posted Saturday, January 22, 2005

Have you ever gone to a networking function and seen THE person who you feel could help you most there, except that person is surrounded by people ALL the time? Have you ever tried to enter into a conversation with that circle of people, only to have gotten the feeling you were intruding? How do you get an audience with a person who is constantly surrounded by "gatekeepers"? This happens often at gatherings that do not have a structured agenda- in other words in places where open networking is promoted. Here's an effective approach to meeting the person you want to meet.

Watching the people that surround your prospect will tell you a lot about each person's connection to the prospect. There will be people who are there as casual acquaintances, and others who have strong ties to your prospect. The ones with the stronger ties are usually the most helpful in accomplishing your goal of meeting this person. They have already built a relationship with your prospect and can now help you begin to build one as well.

Sooner or later, one of the people who has a strong tie with your prospect, will leave that group. They will head for food, drinks, or a restroom. This is your opportunity to speak with this person away from the group. Once separated from the group, these people are usually very friendly and helpful, even though they were very protective of their "space" when in the group.

Be prepared with a casual non-threatening comment about the weather, the food, the attendance, or anything else that is appropriate for that gathering. You will usually get a positive response to comments of this general variety. Also, be prepared to request an introduction to the person you wish to meet. Something like, "I see you know Mr. Magoo. I wonder if you would mind introducing me to him? I would be interested in finding out more about what he does. I might be able to refer some work his way in the future". Notice that this request is to meet Mr. Magoo so that you might refer him some business and not the other way around. You must really want to help Mr. Magoo, too, or you won't sound sincere.

You have just told this person that you want to help their friend, Mr. Magoo. You haven't said that you want Mr. Magoo's help. Until you build a relationship with Mr. Magoo, you probably won't get his help. The first step to building that relationship, is getting that introduction. Mr. Magoo's friend has an opportunity to bring you and Mr. Magoo together, and Mr. Magoo could benefit. This is a win- win situation. This is the beginning of building a relationship that will be mutually beneficial. Giving before receiving- it works every time.

Ok, you've gotten introduced. What do you say to start building a strong business relationship? Next week's column will address what to say next.

About the Author
Nancy Roebke, is the Executive Director of Profnet Inc, a professional business leads generation corporation. We bring business professionals together in a non-competitive environment to help each other make more money. (

Copyright c Nancy Roebke


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