Are you getting results from the time you spend networking?
Wish your networking brought you more business, more referrals?
No doubt about it. Networking is the most effective way to generate new business. But unless it’s done properly it can be a waste of time and even counterproductive. In this article we will cover 5 real-world tips to help you turn your networking efforts into bottom-line results.
There are some people who actually get it. Other people seem to gravitate to them with a regular stream of opportunities for them and their business. They don’t engage in the face-to-face equivalent of cold calling. They spend a good chunk of their time building relationships ― fostering existing ones and establishing appropriate new ones ― knowing that genuine and sustainable success comes from their personal connections. They are active as participants, leaders and advocates of their networking and community groups.
1. Make the most of your networking memberships.
Become a prominent and visible member. Turn up to most, if not all, of the association’s/organisation’s/group’s major events. Get on a committee or board. Join a “special project” team. Do something to contribute to the success of the association. Offer ideas. Assist with the meet and greet at events. You will be seen as a person who is willing to commit time and energy and people will take notice. You will also open up opportunities to create exposure for your business. Build friendships with “influencers”— the president, past presidents, board/committee members and others who are just very active in the association. Sit down with these people one-on-one and find out what their challenges, issues, goals and priorities are, ask how you can help them with their duties, then serve them. And serve them well because they can make or break you. As you develop your relationships with these “influencers” and other members, you’ll have the opportunity to talk about your business and if your product or service is good these people will refer you, recommend you and open doors for you. Some will also become your clients.
Visibility (attending and getting involved) = Trust = Doors Open For You
The more you show up…the more people get to know you and remember you. That makes it easier for people to refer you out to their networks.
2. Follow your interests.
Don’t join or get involved in groups just to get something from them. Join the group because you are truly interested in what they do and, more importantly, because you want to help them be successful. This is how trust and collaboration are developed. Remember, when it comes to networking groups, you get out what you put in. On a similar note, charities are also great networking opportunities, but it is important to get involved with ones that you feel strongly about.
3. Friendship trumps acquaintances.
Business contacts are only as valuable as the depth of connection that you’ve made. It’s one thing to “know of somebody” and quite another thing to actually KNOW them. This doesn’t mean that you have to be “best friends for life” with every contact but it does mean being more than just another name on a LinkedIn list.
4. Build deeper relationships.
It’s far better to join one or two organisations where you really become active and involved than join multiple organisations where you only attend a meeting or event once a year. Getting involved is the best way to build long term relationships with people. And it’s through these relationships that business (and personal) opportunities will emerge over time.
5. To say you’re “too busy to network” is suicidal.
If you don’t network you will eventually be “not busy”. If you want to avoid this situation, having no business coming in, you’ve got to make time to network. That means when you are busy/busiest you will still have time to meet new people and stay in touch with the people you know. You can’t afford to let up your efforts to bring in new business because you always need new work to replace the work you finish.
Maybe we will see each other at a networking event some day.