Networking is a fantastic sales and marketing tool when building up your reputation and a great strategy for business growth.
Let’s dispel the myth about networking. Networking is no longer just about meeting new people for the sake of selling product and services to them! Gone are the days where networking is just for the sales and business development managers. It’s becoming more valuable to build your personal networks. Employers want to know how many LinkedIn connections you have? Business partners are interested in how many twitter followers and Facebook fans follow your business.
Networking has become a place to share and exchange ideas; get advice on business issues and challenges; and it’s about getting access to people and information that you would not normally have access to in your day to day life. It’s about extending your reach outside your circle of influence. Networking is about offering support and your expertise.
The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity. - Keith Ferrazzi
Amazing things happen when you attend a networking event with the mindset of giving or assisting, rather than “what am I going to get out of this?”. You will see the more you support others on their journey, the more you are going to get back. What I mean by this is you will create a more genuine connection and interest. Opportunities seem to arise when you help others and referrals seem to flow as you have established a solid reputation, where people come to know, like and trust you.
Here are my tips to effective networking:
- Go into a networking event with the focus on giving versus receiving.
- Be present. Listen actively, don’t think of other things, as you never know when an opportunity arises or information of value.
- Think of networking as a long-term strategy verses short-term.Like any strong relationship it’s built over time.
- Don’t over commit or feel guilty about not being able to catch up with someone for coffee or a meeting.We are all busy and you’ll find the right time to engage with that new connection.
- Be honest; be genuine and transparent about your intentions.People can see through facades and you the run the risk of creating distrust if you mask what you are really trying to do.
- Take action immediately.We all have smartphones these days, so if you really want to catch up with a new contact next week book it into both your diaries while its fresh in your minds.
- Lastly, only commit to things that excite you. Opportunities come and go, but if you are half-hearted about taking that plunge are you doing yourself a disservice and wasting both your time and that new contact’s.
There are so many networking groups nowadays and it may take time to find the right one that suits you and your business. Many have non-member and guest nights where you are can attend 2 or 3 times before you need to deceive to become a member.
Be genuine and happy networking.