Updated: Aug 15, 2018
NETWORKING SAVVY: How to Network More Effectively
The term “networking” may be entirely unappealing to you. You may not think of yourself as a people person, but you still have something to offer to others. You have something to learn from others. Whatever your disposition, people are your greatest asset. The more you meet and the deeper you go, the more successful you will become. Networking may not be all that thrilling. In fact, it can sometimes be downright boring - or terrifying if you don’t exactly enjoy meeting complete strangers at stuffy events. Unfortunately, networking is a big deal. How else can you expect to meet people who can help your business by either offering a mentorship or at least putting you in touch with the people who can steer you in the right direction?
Whatever your views on the issue, networking is important. For entrepreneurs, it’s essential, networking with other people is the path to survival and success. Through networking, you might meet someone who will help you found a company, become your greatest buyer, market your product to millions, or change your life for good. None of this is possible, however, unless you get out there and meet people.
10 tips on how to do it right:
Get yourself out there. Take up something like golf or a cooking class to meet new people who have similar interests as you. Remember, people are more relaxed in social settings, so it’s one of the best chances to strike up a conversation. Another chance to network is by volunteering or attending a fundraiser. Both are great ways to meet with members of the neighborhood, discuss yourself or company and show that you’re behind a cause.
Always Get a Second Date
Whether it’s a fundraiser or industry event, it can get a bit overwhelming when making the rounds and introducing yourself to professionals you’ve never met before. And, even if there was a great first introduction, it’s difficult to gauge if that contact is worth continuing a relationship because time is probably limited. This is why it’s important to secure a second meeting. Strike up a conversation and see if there’s potential with this individual make sure that you get their contact information so that you can set-up a second meeting in the future. Don’t collect people; invest in people. It’s a mistake to think that a big stack of business cards is valuable. It doesn’t matter how many people you know. It only matters how well you know them. A one-off business card exchange doesn’t mean that you have a relationship. You’ve only traded pieces of paper. Instead of collecting business cards, make it a point to invest in the relationship. Take it a step further — a meal, a phone call, a meeting. It doesn’t have to be just exchanging business cards and making pointless small talk. Besides expanding your professional network, sometimes networking can actually be fun as well. Regardless if it’s strictly professional or just enjoying a cocktail party following an industry event.
Surround yourself with smarter people
Spend Time Social Networking. This doesn’t mean that you have to let social networking consume your life. What it means is that you should use social networking to your advantage. For example, if there is an upcoming conference, you could use everything from LinkedIn to a company website to learn information prior to meeting people who interest you. You could then follow up with that person via Twitter or LinkedIn.
Another benefit of social networking is by sharing or creating relevant articles that your audience would find informative. Also make sure to join in discussions and answer or ask questions. Not only does this make you a member of a community, it also can also help establish you as an authority figure in your field.
Nurture and Maintain Strategic Relationships
After spending time networking both online and offline, you’ve probably accumulated a good number of contacts. However, if you’re looking to establish a meaningful relations, such as a mentor, then you need to be just a little selective. Ideally, you should be limiting yourself to 5 to 10 strategic relationships. When constructing these relationships you want to make sure that you keep in touch on a regular basis and that the interaction was worth their time - sharing a relevant article or a career update would be examples of quality interactions.
Remember that as your contact base increases you will have to do a little re-evaluation. You may realize that someone who was important last year isn’t as important as someone you just met. However, that’s no excuse to burn bridges. You still want to check-in with that person from time to time because you never know when that person could be of assistance again.
Get personal with your online network.
Your biggest network is probably your online community. How do you bring these people out of the ether and into your life? You turn that online interaction into real-life encounters. One thing that I’ve done is personally reach out to people. If I have a connection on LinkedIn, I might give her/him a call and find out how they’re doing. If I’m going to visit Timbuktu in the spring, I would email my contacts there and ask for a meeting. Don’t neglect your online network. Instead, take these relationships to the next level.
Don’t just be interesting; be interested.
If you come with a self-focused perspective, you’ll end up being a turnoff to people. The key to being an interesting person is to be interested in the other person. Ask questions about them, and develop an interest in their life. Doing so will produce a far more profitable, engaging, and long-term rWant to add a caption to this image? Click the Settings icon. elationship. Forget your personal agenda, and try to truly connect with the other person. Be willing to meet anyone and listen to everyone. Everyone has value. Give, don’t take: Relationships are built on trust and credibility. If you come across as a glad-handing taker, no one will want to build a relationship or do business with you. Instead of focusing on your own benefit in a relationship, focus on what you can bring to the other person.
Go to the best locations:
Half of networking is just being visible. When you’re present in the right locations, you’ll automatically run into people. Identify the areas in your location where people hang out — a co-working space, a coffee shop, a particular restaurant, a club. These are public spots that anyone can access. When you start to spend time at these places, you’ll run into people and build a cadre of contacts that become your networking circle. Never eat alone; Meals are one of the best opportunities for meetings. Being a master networker involves utilizing the mundane moments to enrich your relationships. Everyone has to eat, right? Make the most of meals by never eating alone during business hours or at social events. Stay until you’ve met the most influential people. Don’t flit around from location to location. Once you’ve found the spot that has networking potential — a club or a restaurant, for example — keep returning there until you’ve met the right people. You can open the conversation with something as generic as, “I see you come here often,” and take it from there. Also look for your local events within your interest.
Step outside your comfort zone
Some of the best people you can meet are hubs — those central people who somehow know everyone. It is possible to meet that single person who can introduce you to dozens of others. These are the people you should be seeking and interacting with. We tend to spend time with the people we’re comfortable with. They look like us, act like us, talk like us, and earn like us. Some of the best relationships, however, are bridging relationships — meeting people who aren’t like you. Don’t be intimidated by reaching out to powerful people. Don’t be hesitant to connect with weak people. Reach across the artificial boundaries of race, gender, income, industry, and interests to form powerful and expansive network. If you broaden your network, you can broaden your world. Connect to connectors.
Whenever you meet someone, make it a point to offer them something beyond your card. “Is there anything I can do to help you?” is a great way to close a conversation, and leave the door open to interact again. Connect after you meet: Once you’ve met someone in person, reach out to them afterwards via email or online just to follow up. Most likely, you have their business card or contact information. Take their info, save it, and send them a quick greeting to cement the relationship
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to networking; it’s a two-way street!