I run seminars on Effective Networking and very often I hear folks complain bitterly about their networking experiences – the evenings they have wasted at “useless” events, the lack of new business generated by their networking endeavors, the abysmal lack of timely follow-up by the people that they’ve met and so on and so forth with varying degrees of negativity.
Whew, it’s enough to make you swear off networking forever!
But I know better. I’ve been in business 27 years and for most of that time have been an avid networker. I guess you can say that I built my business on networking (that and some hard core prospecting as well!) and feel confident that done correctly, it can be a powerhouse business generator for most people.
But not if it isn’t done correctly and let me ask you, isn’t that true of most things?
So in no particular order I will share with you what I know to be best practices for effective networking:
Be patient. Don’t expect to see results quickly. For some professions and businesses it can take years before you see new business.
Be strategic. Not all networking endeavors are right for everyone. You need to pick and choose carefully or you will waste your time and quite probably, your money as well.
Act proactively. Make a name for yourself as a proactive networker and make introductions because you see synergies and not because someone asked you if you know a FILL IN THE BLANK. (That’s totally reactive.)
Give first. No I don’t believe in the old cliche of “givers get” because sometimes they don’t BUT it doesn’t hurt to make the first move.
Be visible. I know that you’re meeting people all of the time but if you meet them and then disappear from their mind you should not expect anything to evolve from the original interaction.
Add value. Make introductions, invite your networking contacts to events and share information. (Yes, it’s my “famous” three-I’s.)
Don’t pre-judge. Heck you might think that they won’t be a good connection but do you know their circle of contacts including friends, family, prospects and clients.
Referral sources. Don’t ignore the power of great referral sources. While they may never be a personal client of yours they can make an infinite number of introductions. Treat them well.
Have fun. Yep have fun while you are networking and that means you have to pick networking activities, groups and events that work with your personal networking style. If you have to force yourself to participate chances are you’ll sit or stand there with a grimace and give off bad vibes. There’s networking events that can work for everyone; you just have to explore your options.
So here you go. Some quick tips to keep you from singing those old networking blues. Want some more advice? Reach out to me and let’s network!