There’s no doubt about it…networking is a time-consuming endeavor. Not only do you have to attend meetings and events and start the conversations, you need to follow-up and follow-through and have individual get-togethers so that the conversations that you started have an opportunity to turn into relationships.
As we all know it’s difficult to make a referral or give a lead to someone with whom you don’t have trust and respect and in order to build that trust and respect you need to know about the person and company, get clear insight into their values and how they execute their business.
Make introductions without having any sort of understanding of these characteristics and you run the risk of making an introduction that goes sour.
Effective networking is just one component in your business development endeavors. Regardless of how good you play the networking game you still need to engage in other activities in order to generate prospects and new business.
But make no mistake about it, networking (well, the effective kind anyway) can be incredibly impactful.
Here are some tips on how you can be a more effective networker:
- Spend your time at networking events and meetings that offer you the best opportunity for success. Not all groups and events are right for everyone and it makes good sense to do some research and be selective.
- Have a networking plan for how you “work the room.” Don’t spend the entire evening speaking with just a few people. You only have a few hours and the point is to make contacts, start a dialogue and follow-up later.
- One-on-one conversations and meetings are truly required for effective networking. You can’t glean enough information from a short chat in a busy room. Take the time to learn more and therefore you will be more comfortable making the introductions.
- Be a giver and don’t expect anything in return at least immediately. The old adage “givers get” does not always hold true. If you find yourself not being on the receiving end of introductions and referrals, you might need to be more assertive and simply “ask!”
Be patient. Networking takes time and consistency. Pull the plug too soon and you won’t get the maximum ROI.