Many business owners struggle with networking.
According to Harvard Business Review Blogs,
“…networking has the potential to dramatically enhance our careers; making new connections can introduce us to valuable new information, job opportunities, and more. But despite that fact, many of us are doing it wrong — and I don’t just mean the banal error of trading business cards at a corporate function and not following up properly. Many executives, even when they desperately want to cultivate a new contact, aren’t sure how to get noticed and make the right impression.”
Why is networking a necessary business function?
Douglas Hart experienced first hand how valuable “results oriented networking” can be, “It was through the networking skills that I developed…that I eventually discovered the right people at the right firm where I am currently pursuing my new career.”
There is essential truth and insight in Dorie Clark’s closing note in her HBR article,
“Networking is possibly the most valuable professional activity we can undertake. But too often, we’re inadvertently sabotaging our own best efforts by misreading power dynamics, failing to give first, and not making our value proposition clear. Fixing those crucial flaws can help us connect with the people we want and need to meet to develop our careers.”
Results Oriented Networking
Consider including results oriented networking in your business success plan. By ‘results oriented’ I mean that you set the intention to meet qualified contacts. You use a networking process that produces results by way of new leads, develops client prospects in your target market, and realizes valuable referrals.
Follow our steps to improve and deepen connections created via business networking:
- Adopt the Mindset. Networking is a Mindset. Networking means connecting and building long-lasting relationships. Think of it as a way to make new business associates and friends.
- Get comfortable. How do you become comfortable with networking? Arrive early, see yourself as a greeter, be enthusiastic, invite a friend to meet you there, move around in the crowd, and introduce contacts to others.
- Make a connection. How does that happen? When you make a new friend or contact for your business, you make the introduction, show interest in them, ask questions to learn about them, remain positive, express a compliment, then relate when you discover something you have in common. By all means, smile, listen, and engage. Be helpful. Offer the value of a resource that applies to their professional interest.
- Plan the next meeting. Set the intention to reconnect. When you take this step, it shows that you have a true interest in learning more about them, identifying their need, and cultivating a way to be of service.
- Follow-Up. Add your new connections’ contact information to your database with notes on where you met them, topics you discussed, what impressed you, and your next form of communication. Follow-up is the key to achieve results oriented networking rather than simply meeting new people.
- Communicate. Stay in touch. Whether with an email, call, or appointment, they all matter in the process of building relationships. Stay connected! It makes every networking event a worthwhile business effort.
The value of building relationships is a critical factor in growing your business. Without it, you limit your ability to develop new business or even maintain your current business. Networking makes your business stronger and more profitable by positioning you as a leader in your field. Need to sharpen your networking skills? Need help learning which networking events are right for you? I would welcome the opportunity to assist.