Often I am asked for a review of the basics or the ‘light version’ of networking.
Here it is:
Maintaining a positive attitude about networking is the single most important driver of empowering the strategy to generate new client relationships. This “positive” networking method is grounded in the idea of giving without any expectations of receiving something in return. What it necessitates is that you be constantly thinking in terms of “How can I be an asset to this person?” And in practice, it’s an approach that serves to alleviate any concerns you may have that a relationship with a contact is somehow one-sided, or contrived.
How it helps
Done well, and with close attention to detail, strategic networking is a powerful and highly cost-effective means of generating qualified leads that have a strong probability of becoming new clients. For some people, it also provides a much needed opportunity to escape the confines of their offices to interact with new people in a more casual and open setting.
How to get started:
- Each month identify three to five people you know and explore ways that they can introduce you to an additional three to five people. Find an approach you’re comfortable with and engage them in a networking discussion.
- Call and propose a networking meeting to share connections.
- Engage them in a conversation about their business and their needs always with an eye toward giving rather than receiving.
- Invite them to a seminar, event, or to be your guest at a business-related program.
- Forward an article.
- Look beyond the obvious friends, relatives and colleagues when exploring the vast universe that is your potential strategic network.
- Research and track past colleagues through social media sources like LinkedIn and Face book.
- Reconnect with college and high school alumni through social media and alumni associations.
- Think of some of your suppliers, vendors and other business people in your life.
- Devote time to keeping track of and recording personal and business facts about every one of your personal and business contacts.
- Personal history
- Business background and future plans
- Family and lifestyle information
- Special interests and religious/political affiliation
- Don’t allow fear of jeopardizing a relationship prevent you from networking.
- Remember that you are an expert at what you do. And usually so is the other person. Dig deep to learn more about them.
- Your contact may have a pressing need or concern that either you or another professional in your network can alleviate.
- The opportunity to work together is much more likely to deepen your friendships than hurt them.
- Make sure you prepare prior to an event of any type. Review your Networking Checklist.
Most of all- enjoy yourself and walk away a richer person for having connected and learned from another.