Harnessing the Power of Effective Networking
Please note that this blog isn’t meant to discuss the power of social networking…that’s a topic in itself!
I once read that “the best networkers do not even know that they are networking - they are simply being good conversationalists; adept at becoming visible; talking and responding, and getting to know people.” So, does this mean that the best networkers are also successful in driving new business from their networking efforts? Not necessarily.
It can be said that the growth of any business is directly correlated to the number of people who know about it. Therefore, networking (giving your company a “face,” connecting with others and learning about what's happening in your industry) is crucial to business growth. But networking is far more than shaking hands and being seen; it’s about effectively making connections that bring shared successes. Here are a few simple tips on how to harness the power of effective networking:
Learn to Communicate – Big and Small: When people ask you what you do, make sure you have a strong and clearly defined answer. It is important to articulate the purpose of your business in an easily understandable and memorable way. But keep in mind that to be a good networker, you sometimes need to put the “elevator speech” aside and make small talk. Listen when others are speaking, get interested in what others are offering and contribute to conversations in a personal way. People do business with people they “know, like and trust” and that comes from making a personal connection as well as a business one.
Set Goals: When you attend an event, have a pre-set goal of how many new contacts you would like to make. Be sure to introduce yourself to people you don’t know. You will defeat the purpose of networking if you continuously stick with familiar faces. If you are already well connected, ask people to make introductions for you. Be sure to do the same for your contacts by asking them who they are interested in meeting or getting connected with.
Be Strategic: A key to successful networking is to participate deeply in an organization or professional group that offers opportunities for you to meet PROSPECTS. List all the networking groups you currently participate in and then define which groups are truly putting you in front of potential clients. Know the difference between the events you need to attend and the ones you want to attend and prioritize them as such.
Follow-Up: If you are successfully making new contacts, be sure to follow-up on anything mentioned in your conversation. If you have trouble remembering all of the details, make notes on people’s business cards directly following the event. You may have passed the “know and like” phase but you still have to gain trust; this likely comes from doing exactly what you say you will in a timely fashion.
What strategies are you currently using to effectively network and build new and successful relationships?
- Written by Holly Davis, Manager of Business Development for Helios HR