Posted June 1, 2021 by johnspence
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One of the essential factors in building a highly successful career or business is being superb at networking. Yet, many of us struggle with meeting new people and creating strong working relationships with them. It will be even more challenging because we haven’t been able to do any face-to-face networking and more than a year. So here are a few ideas on how to be a better networker.
Foundational Tips for Networking
- Focus solely on how you can help the other person. Don’t talk about your company, your products, your services… there will be time for that later. Begin the relationship with a strong desire to add value to the other person.
- Do not hesitate to ask someone attending the same networking event to introduce you to a few people they already know.
- In a networking relationship, it is 90% give and 10% take. Offer value, offer assistance, make connections, keep them at the top of mind when opportunities present, and act on them. Then when you ask for help, it will likely be reciprocated.
- One of the best ways to help people is by introducing them to other people in your network that you think can assist them. You want to position yourself as a connector, someone who puts people together for their mutual benefit.
- When you meet someone you think is valuable for your network, be sure to send an email or handwritten note within a day or two to tell him or her what a pleasure it was to meet and that you would like to stay in contact.
- Contact the person hosting the networking event and ask them if they will introduce you to several people.
- Ask the person hosting the networking event about some of the key people attending; then do some research so you can strike up a conversation based on your knowledge of their background and business. If they ask you why you know so much about them, tell them you heard they were going to be at the event, and you did some research because you are interested in what they do.
Tips for When a Networking Bond has Formed
- When someone introduces you to a person in their network, be sure to thank them for making the introduction and let them know that you are open to meeting anyone else they think might find value in being connected to you.
- A question I occasionally ask is, “What are three or four challenges you are facing right now in your business?” Once you have collected this information, you can examine your network for individuals or organizations to assist them and then introduce them.
- When you contact someone within your network, make sure that it will be viewed as something valuable. You want people to be excited when they get an email from you. So attach an article, a blog link, a YouTube link, a podcast, or a book recommendation on a topic you know they have an interest in.
Tips for Engaging on Social Media
- Social Media is a powerful and effective tool to consistently engage with your desired connections to generate recognition, and eventually, a professional relationship.
- Post consistently about personal goals, hobbies, and experiences to build an online personal brand.
- Social Media is fantastic, but you still need to build strong personal relationships. Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms to make connections worldwide. Then follow up with personal interaction to create a real relationship with the people you feel would best fit your network.
Networking is not just about getting business. One of the most powerful things I have gained from my networking through the years is confidence. The confidence that comes with knowing that if I don’t have the answer to a problem, I can find somebody that does. I don’t need to be that smart. I just need to be connected to people who are.
These are a few ideas that help me become a better networker. It really all boils down to this great Zig Ziglar quote, and I think it sums up the concept of networking perfectly, “If you just help enough other people get what they want, you’ll get everything you want.”
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