In today’s world of social networking and associated technologies, it’s easy to conduct business from behind the desk or mobile device. As a society, are we forgetting the importance of face-to-face interaction? While funeral service professionals interact with families face-to-face on a daily basis, it is easy during slow periods to stay inside and behind screens. To expand your business and your network of relationships, it is imperative that you take the time to enrich yourself and your businesses by participating in varied networking opportunities outside the funeral home.
In-person relationships and events are where we learn more about the people we do business with, meet potential customers, and expand our business knowledge. We must commit to taking advantage of these opportunities and learn some things that we just couldn’t learn the same way online.
Try these easy tips for making networking personal and learn something new.
Make the event about the people.
Whenever you participate in an event outside your funeral home, be intentional about making individual connections. Set a goal for meeting a certain number of people in an evening and engage in one-on-one discussions to make the conversation more personal. If you’re at a networking happy hour, for example, make it a point to meet new people and seek out individuals you might otherwise never come across. If you’re attending a funeral service convention, go out of your way to meet other funeral service professionals you haven’t met before. You never know if you’re talking to a future community partner, a potential mentor, or prospective employee.
As a funeral director, you have interesting stories to tell. How about the time the hearse got a flat on the way to the cemetery or the time your staff handled a particularly difficult case well? Other funeral service professionals can sympathize and may have helpful advice to give. If you’re speaking to a member of your community, share stories about the community events your funeral home hosts, your grief therapy dog, or your family.
By telling personal stories, you open up the conversation for others to tell their own. This is where you find common ground to share. Once comfort is established, the rest will come naturally.
Talk about why you do what you do.
When meeting new people, whether they’re in funeral service or not, show your passion for what you do. You may have entered the family business or may have made a decision to enter the business due to a “calling”. Sharing why you do what you do and hearing others’ stories can help you discover a perspective on your business that you may not have considered. It also gives you the opportunity to convey the meaning and value of funeral service and that it isn’t just about disposing the dead.
Diversity is what sets us apart, but it is also what brings us together.
Whether you’re networking with other funeral directors or members of your community, ask people what they do in their downtime, where they’re from, and where they’ve been. Let them tell their story and just maybe, you’ll find out that you have more in common that you would have thought. A person with whom you share common interests and business practices is someone who is more willing to share his/her successes and even failures. This is a good way to learn what works and what may not. If they’re funeral directors, how do they follow-up with families? What do they find to be a good way to go about community outreach? If they’re a member of the public, how do they perceive funeral service? What have their experiences with death care been?
Be approachable and make the first move
Being the one to step up and introduce yourself shows that you are just another “real” person attempting to get to know another. Once this is done, the possibilities of a mutually beneficial business contact or relationship just got better. Regardless of the outcome, you have opened yourself up to the opportunity you would never have had if you had not left the funeral home.
Developing your sociability with face to face encounters can happen anywhere. So get moving, say hello, shake a hand, or simply ask someone about their day.
OGR’s next networking event will be a Funeral Feud Party in Philadelphia, PA on Monday evening, October 24 during NFDA’s Convention. The party will raise funds for OGR’s Charitable Foundation and provide guests with the chance to meet other independent funeral service professionals and play OGR’s original Funeral Feud game.
Learn more at www.ogr.org/funeral-feud-party.