Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, have the gift of gab, or simply don’t know how to make small chats, networking skills are critical to your business’s success. “All things being equal, individuals will do business with and refer business to those they know, like, and trust,” according to a business philosophy that I believe most of us agree to. The ability to create relationships is, of course, crucial.
Consider networking to be the development of win-win partnerships that are mutually beneficial. GIVE and TAKE are required for a win-win situation (notice the emphasis on giving). Networking should not be thought of as a series of “events” where you go to promote your company. When people network effectively, they actively share ideas, information, and resources, among other things.
So, you’re aware that networking is one of the most cost-effective lead generation activities when done correctly, appropriately, and professionally. However, it may appear that saying it is more difficult than doing it. Here’s a seven-step strategy for getting started with business networking:
Try out a few different groups to see which ones have the best chemistry and perceived worth
Most organizations will let you visit at least twice before requiring you to join. Ask around to see why others have joined and what benefit they derive from being a part of it.
Avoid the temptation to join the Chamber of Commerce just because everyone says you should. If that isn’t the case, you may be wasting a lot of time (and money).
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t join the Chamber of Commerce. Simply state your goals for this or any other group. If you want to locate new clients or referral sources, you’ll need to network.
Once you’ve found one or two groups, join them and attend as many meetings as you can
Don’t go expecting things to happen once or twice and then give up if they don’t. It will take time to develop mutually beneficial, win-win partnerships.
The people you meet should be able to see and hear your face all of the time. Continuous communication with others over time will allow you to delve deeper into each other’s views, ideas, and capabilities in relation to your individual businesses.
It takes time to get to know, like, and trust someone. It pays to be consistent and consistent.
Participate and show up
Make yourself as visible as possible within the company. Volunteer to assist in meetings, serve on committees, or lead or serve aboard.
You and your company benefit from being active in a variety of ways. For starters, you’ll have more chances to form connections and get to know some of the people you’ve met better. Second, the more visible you are in the group, the less effort you will have to put in into making new relationships. Instead, as new members join the organization, they will likely seek you out since they regard you as a leader.
Stay in touch with your contacts
Don’t expect that seeing someone once a month (or even once a week) would result in them conducting business with you or sending you something. To keep them informed and educated, you must let them know what’s happening while you’re not with that group.
Invite them to your open houses and activities. Send them emails or letters with important announcements or success stories, particularly if they or their networks of contacts are interested. Doesn’t this make sense if you believe you have great ideas, information, or resources to share?
Practice referring others and giving useful information
That’s exactly before you can obtain, you must first be willing to GIVE. That means you’ll have to get to know the other members and figure out what makes a good candidate for them. What kind of information do you have access to that you think they’d find useful?
You might believe at first that you don’t have much to offer people (besides your business and what you provide). Making no assumptions is an important part of learning to give well. For example, don’t assume that simply because someone is an “expert” in an area, they are familiar with some basic resource (e.g., a website). Ask if they’re aware of the resource and, if they aren’t, offer to share it with them.
Do you want to improve your referral skills? Here’s an easy question to pose to someone with whom you’ve struck up a conversation. “How will I know if I meet someone who is a good fit for you?”
You know, like, and trust factor will increase simply by your willingness to explore providing.
Prioritize quality over quantity
It’s not so much about how many relationships you create as it is about how good they are. Are these win-win partnerships mutually beneficial?
Because all parties engaged will be actively sharing ideas, information, and resources, quality relationships will be easily discernible. Yes, you must devote some time and effort to learning about the other person(s) and their priorities. You must, however, be specific and deliberately consider what information or resources you require.
Keeping in touch with and following up with a smaller number of high-quality relationships will be far more fruitful than attempting to follow up with a huge number of superficial contacts.
Be persistent, but patient in your efforts
The goal of a networking event should not always be to leave with leads, but rather to leave with great connections. The development and nurturing of relationships take time while networking.
Networking should not be viewed as a frightening prospect or a necessary evil of doing business. Remove yourself from the situation and concentrate on how you might connect with someone you meet. Prioritize them and look for opportunities to assist them. You’ll eventually be able to reap what you plant as your reputation as a connection grows.