Thinking about 2014? Well, you should be (!) and if networking is going to play a role in your business development efforts then take heed of these best practices:
- Be more strategic. Really, not every group or meeting will have value for you and adopting the cliche of “ya never know” just means that you are going to spend endless time trying to find the places and groups with whom you will have the best ROI.
- Givers get…maybe not right away and maybe not with direct leads, but at the end of the day if you find yourself taking more than giving you will find that your networking simply doesn’t give you the type of results that you desire.
- Be friendly. Sounds easy doesn’t it but if you have ever gone to an event and found people standing around in little clusters without any sort of inviting smile then you know exactly what I mean.
- Don’t forget the all important follow-up. Let’s face it, you’re not going to establish a “real” relationship just by doing “sound-bite” networking. You need to take the time and make the effort to get to know your networking contacts.
- Be specific. Telling your fellow networkers that you can work with “everybody” and that you want introductions to owners of small business mean very little. Everybody usually nets nobody. Small business? 2 employees or 200. It’s different for everyone.
Make a commitment to improving your networking game and you are pretty much guaranteed to get better results. And that’s what it is all about, isn’t it?