What do you think when you hear the word ‘Networking’? Is it truly about selling? Or is networking more about building relationships?
Networking can be scary for the newbie to the group. But in all reality, networking should not be viewed as scary at all. If you think about it, everyone attending that event is there for the same reason that you are: they want to build relationships and meet new people.
Everyone attending that event is there for the same reason that you are: they want to build relationships and meet new people.
Merriam-Webster defines networking as "The exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business." The part that strikes the hardest cord is productive relationships. That's because the true essence of networking is about building relationships. Networking is more about giving than receiving. Networking lives off the golden rule of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".
Recently, I reached out to a few industry professionals and asked for their best tips to share on Networking.
Networking advise from the experts!
David DiCosola, COO @ Georama.com
The more you give, them more you'll get back.
Before you go around asking people for referrals and introductions, focus on how you can help them first. It could be something as simple as an article that would be relevant to his or her business, or maybe you can offer to make an introduction to someone in your network. A simple gesture like this makes people more willing to help you achieve your goals.
Reed Felton, President @ Felton Consulting
Most communities have abundant opportunities to network. For some it is an extension of their social life, for others, networking is a serious pursuit and perhaps even the lifeblood of their business. Here are 3 simple principles to get the most from networking opportunities.
Have a Purpose. The majority of responses I get when asking why someone is at a networking event are ”I just want to meet some new people” or “just wanna get my name out there” or similar. Then there is the , “I just got downsized”. Finally, the least frequent response is a real specific purpose like, “I have a new opening for a logistics manager and am hoping to get the word out”. To increase your chances for making meaningful connections have a purpose or reason to be there that give you an enter to a conversation.
Work your plan. Your plan will help you fulfill your purpose. In knowing specifically why you are networking, it will set up a better scenario for you to connect with your audience of interest. Networking can be akin to a large speed dating game. Those that are successful ask the best questions and listen intently. Be ready with interrogatives that allow your conversation partner to tell you about them. Using questions starting with what, when, why, how, etc allows the information to flow. If what you are hearing is of no interest, graciously disengage and move on.
Pay it forward. If you hold any stock in Karma, this is for you. Most of the folks we will meet will not be our target audience. Some will be looking for a job or have a need you can help them with. Consider making an introduction, giving away copies of e-books you are enthusiastic about, or helping someone tweak their resume. A productive approach when networking is to give with no expectation of getting a return. When you do this sincerely, people recognize it and appreciate it.
Two more things that don’t start with a P.
- Be aware of the non-verbal signals you are getting and giving. Body language is important and can be very helpful if you are aware of it.
- Keep your promises. If you say you will follow up with someone, make sure you do. It builds your personal brand.
Pattie Simone, Profit Alchemist @ Marketing-Advantage
Networking is incredibly valuable to your ultimate success for entrepreneurs or career path folks. When you get out in front of people - whether through interactions on social networks or by attending conferences or other business gatherings - strategic networking is all good.
I've found a mix of online, phone and face-to-face networking works best. Each enables opportunities to find new leads, share information, weigh in on new or ongoing discussions, and ask questions about how others dealt with issues you may be facing now.
Remember one thing - networking is a 2 way street, so it's not all about you. The most important tip I learned from another savvy networker involves less talking and more listening. Networking via listening - to various attendee conversations, to info shared by event, Conference and workshop speakers - enables you to learn new tips, keep pace with industry doings and gain valuable perspective. Great listening positions you to ask the right questions, offer better referrals and suggestions, and get the right kind of recommendations and intros to strong potential clients and partners.
Super-sized networking can also:
- Create brand awareness about you and your company
- Keep you up-to-date on a variety of trends and productivity and organization tools
- Help you hone your elevator pitch, based on different audiences and your naturally evolving goals
How to find a networking group?
There are a number of resources online to help you find a networking group. The most popular site is probably MeetUp.com. This site allows you to find groups based on your interest by location. Anyone can create an account on MeetUp and join a group that he or she is interested in. Joining a group allows you to see other members of the group as well as be notified of upcoming events. Some groups have restrictions on who can join.
LinkedIn.com is another website, specifically the groups section. Again, you have the ability to search by your particular interest and join groups at your leisure. Searching for groups in your local community will give you the opportunity to be notified about events that might be happening within those groups, it also gives you the option to connect with local group members online first.
Open up your local newspaper. Most business publications have a listing of upcoming chamber events or networking events. Oftentimes some groups will place paid advertisements for their upcoming events in the local publications.
Reach out to the network you already have established (those in the industry, friends, classmates, etc) and ask what groups they recommend attending. Post on your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter account the question - "What are good networking groups in this area?" and you might be surprised as the results and response you receive.
Now that you've heard from professionals, what advice would you also offer the new networker on how to maximize their networking opportunities? If you'd like to stay connected to Keystone Click, send us an email.