Networking is life-blood; whether you realize it or not, you are networking on a daily basis when you interact with others. It is essential for those in a job, as it leads to getting known, to forge good relationships, and opportunities as they arise. Networking is essential for business owners, either online or in-person events as this is a way to market your services to get people to buy from you; if anything, it’s a great way to start a conversation that could lead to them.
But there is a method to successful networking to be aware of so you become that memorable person, or the thought-authority figure when others have an issue or problem that arises. As all networking meetings are different (structure, culture, feel), there are some universal rules to follow so you enjoy them and create meaningful connections:
- Have a plan in mind before you go, being intentional about your reasons for going and who you would like to meet, such as meeting 2 people to learn more about them and set up a follow-up meeting to continue the conversation. Some people network because ‘it’s the right thing to do’ but is it? If you don’t enjoy it, why continue? This is being intentional in your reasons and connections. It’s not wise to talk to everyone, as the conversations would be like speed dating
- Be interested in the other person- people like to be cared about and to talk about themselves so make it less about you and more about them. Have some questions to ask that are engaging and can lead to the ‘tell me more.’ Find out what their business challenges or share resources with them; see, then, if your offerings can help them
- Exude energy, meaning smile and welcoming to those you meet. Doing the opposite will have you standing on the sidelines- alone. That’s not a good feeling (been there). Find commonalities you share, such as a color they’re wearing, side of town happenings, or sports team. This creates the ‘know, like and trust’ factor
- Consider the other person in the conversation; it’s not always about you and shoving…. I meant promoting, your services, which I’ve experienced firsthand. Just cause you’re asked does not mean that the other person only wants to listen; there is networking etiquette to be mindful of and this is a big one. You will put the person off quickly.
- Following up on the previous point, don’t just hand out your business card without asking for one; likewise, don’t just handout your business card to everyone in the room, thinking that this will make them want to come and buy from you. It won’t. I experienced this at a recent networking event – the other person promoted their company, giving me their card and how ‘they can help me’ but did not ask me one thing about myself. Didn’t leave a good feel for them, or their company – ‘not sure’ what I did with their card – if they (or their company) only knew
- Follow-up – be sure to follow-up with those you did have conversations with to let them know you enjoyed meeting them; you can ask them out for coffee to have another meeting; you can connect them to someone who does need their services; or, my favorite, send them resources that follows-up from your discussion. Remember that people may not buy from you now but can in the future – this is how they will keep you in mind, while thinking of you as a resource or go-to person. I’ve secured speaking engagements and consulting gigs from doing so – it can work for you, too
I’ve given tips that relate more to attending networking meetings, which can include professional associations and conventions. Networking within your organization follows the same tips, as often the networking is done with potential managers who may hire you for a future position. Networking should occur with your boss which, as I’ve stated earlier, is about building relationships.
Networking does take some skill and practice. Don’t compare yourself to others who seem to make it look easy; they may have been going longer or may have a different relationship with attendees. The more you have a pre-determined plan for what you want to accomplish, you are open to others and listen to them and understanding of their needs, and follow-up with them, you can have a successful way to fill the pipeline or gain referral sources. Embrace networking as another tool in your marketing plan, one that will create business-building bonds that can be mutually beneficial.
Committed to Your Success Coaching & Consulting focuses on workplace happiness and organizational success, using brain-based principles. If you, or your organization, is struggling with workplace culture and engagement, we have a program that will work to turn this around. If you need help gaining clarity on your business or career goals, why not get some help – stop the struggle and call today to get started! !http://cyscoaching.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more great tips, visit our other blog at https://allaboutcareersites.com (we post different articles here)