When you think of networking what comes to mind?
Different industries, different experiences and different ages will shape what your perception of networking might be.
What I can say is that Networking, contrary to what many people think, is not about passing out business cards, self-promotion, or selling.
Networking is about building strong business relationships. I can guarantee that you will have gone to a networking event in the past and at least half of the people there are trying to sell to you. The problem is that no one goes to a networking event for the purpose of buying something!
Here are my Top 7 tips on what Networking Is, instead of what Networking is Not!
1. Networking is about helping people.
When you are networking, pay attention to how you are adding value to the people with whom you are networking. People will remember you if you impact them in a positive way.
2. Make it your goal to understand their needs before telling them about yours.
If people see that you are willing to help them get what they need, they will be more willing to help you get what you need. Remember that this is not “you owe me,” but a relationship of mutual benefit.
3. It is not just who you know, but also who they know.
Many people make the mistake of thinking too small and fail to think beyond the transaction. Do you want their business, or the opportunity to serve their entire network?
4. “It’s all my fault.”
If the relationship is not developing the way you want it to, explore what you can change. When you accept fault instead of blaming, you can tap into the solutions available to you. Also be sure that they understand what you are looking for and how to tell others about your business if they choose to do so.
5. Try to provide as much value as you can.
Wait, did I say that already? Yes, but it is that important that you add value and be sure you are adding value that is meaningful to them. Offer information, support and best of all referrals.
6. Nurture your established network.
Business relationships take work. Stay connected and continue to add value to keep the relationship alive. You can improve your relationship by taking the time to learn about their business, what they need and helping them get those needs met.
7. Make your follow-up impeccable.
If they do not contact you in a day or two, follow-up with them by their preferred method which you will have established during your conversation at the networking event. Be sure to follow through on anything you have offered to give them or do for them. This is a great opportunity to strengthen your credibility.
Great relationships take more than 7 steps, but these steps will help you get a good start on building relationships that will serve you over and over again.
I’d love to hear from you on what makes a great networking event for you and how you are building your relationships in your networks.