Is networking dead? Some people seem to think so. Others think it’s ineffective and time consuming when you can easily have an online presence and connect that way.
In truth, networking is another marketing tool that can be quite powerful when done purposefully. It is not the place to make a sale, but to educate people on what you do and offer, and a space to start building relationships.
What many new networkers fail to realize is that networking is a long term strategy that requires consistency, patience and desire to build relationships. Instead they attend networking events expecting to meet and sell to someone immediately. They make small talk and collect business cards. Then they go home and wonder why they didn’t close any deals. Or, they feel like they’ve wasted their time.
Here are 5 things you can do to network successfully and get better results:
1. Attend with a specific goal in mind for each interaction.
For example, plan to meet 12 people you have never met before. Connect with 5 people who works in a complementary industry or business to what you do.
2. Listen more, talk less.
Being a good listener is an important part of networking. By making a point to listen to others, they will feel more valued and will be more likely to remember you. You will gain more understanding of their business and their needs. Which in turn can help you figure out how your expertise can fulfill their needs.
3. Give first, take later.
Another important part of networking that helps in fostering trust is by giving value first. In fact, Wharton professor Adam Grant found that givers tend to get further ahead than takers. The key to giving is to help others in a relatively low-cost way to you. Perhaps you can introduce two people who can benefit from knowing each other. Maybe offer advice or feedback or agree to conduct join workshops.
4. Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up!
Meeting people and collecting business cards have no value if you don’t use them. A networking event is just the first step to starting a new professional relationship. Your follow-up is the key to developing it. Do not wait for the other person to follow-up with your first.
You can follow-up by using email, connecting on LinkedIn, or even a phone call. Send a useful article about something you may have had a discussion on. Or, schedule a time to have coffee and chat about how you can help each other.
Not all networking groups are created equal. Once you find just the right one, make sure to attend each meeting to establish yourself as someone serious about connecting with other business professionals. No relationship can grow from just one meeting.
By using these tips, you will begin to establish an extensive network of business professionals who could potentially be your clients, referral partners, industry resource, joint venture partners and more.