It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
We’ve all heard it, and many of us have found it to be true.
Networking can be the best opportunity you will have for generating real leads and growth for your business.
At the core, in-person networking is about building relationships. And like any good relationship, business relationships take time – building rapport, knowledge and most of all, trust.
Not everyone enjoys it, but here are a few things that I’ve picked up along the way which may help to make the networking experience more enjoyable, and profitable for your business:
8 Ways to Network in the Real World
Give and receive: Be interested, not interesting and consider how you might help that person – whether it be connecting them with like-minded businesses, potential suppliers, or even better, potential customers. Care about what they’re doing – if not for you, for them and other people who you may be able to connect them with. Keep your ears open for a solution to their problem or something that might interest them. And if you’re networking with the right people, it will come back to you in droves.
Do it often and choose wisely: Your business needs change and evolve, and so will your networking needs. Be sure that you choose the right network to be involved with, and if it’s not the right fit, find a replacement group or event. Mark it in your diary in advance and be strategic about the use of your time.
Be clear and specific (and brief): When given the opportunity to tell people about what you do, make sure you speak their language (no lingo!), be clear about what you’re looking for, or perhaps how they might help. Don’t ramble, and give the other person the opportunity to ask questions or understand how they might be able to help you.
Avoid the serial networker (and don’t be that person!): There are a number of known networking ‘personalities’– from the ‘socialite networker’ who just loves to attend events and ‘be seen’, to the ‘serial networker’ (you can usually spot them coming towards you, armed with the cards he’s already collected and a keen lack of interest in anything you actually might have to share with him!).
Follow up: At this point, the serial networker would enter all their business cards into their database and start selling you their latest and greatest offer. But for those relationships that you can truly nurture, communicate regularly, and provide mutually beneficial opportunities to connect with the people who are important to you.
Don’t forget social: Connect online, acknowledge those in your network publicly (if you think it will help and if it’s a fit with your social profile).
Give thanks: Acknowledge those in your network privately where it’s deserved. A note of thanks goes a long way towards showing appreciation and increasing the strength of any relationship.
Relax a little: Networking might make some a little nervous, but there are no prizes for the best networker. Be honest with yourself, and with the people you’re connecting with. And your results will be much better (as will your experience).
For more information about Katherine MacPherson, please visit her profile.