So you’ve got your business cards in pocket and now you’re ready to start networking. Whether it be at a networking event or one on one meetings, there are some things you should keep in mind. In this two part article, we’ll share some great tips that will help you become a successful networker who grows your business through your network, and who helps others do the same.
You Network to Help Others
Although we all have a bit of opportunist in us, no one wants to come off like one. So at a networking event (or just in the general course of business), have the mindset that you’re there to help other people, not just be helped by them. After all, if you have a service or product to sell, who would buy if they didn’t feel it would help them. So go about it with that in mind. You’re there to help someone else, and hopefully someone else will be able to help you.
This means you need to make sure that you focus on understanding the needs of everyone you speak to first and foremost. So you should do a lot more listening than talking.
Lead With a Compliment, Not a Request
Upon your first meeting with someone, it’s best that you don’t start off by asking them for help with something. Instead, start off by complimenting their achievements in some way, or showing a genuine interest in something they’re currently involved in. Once you’ve moved past this point in the dialogue, you can move on to a request or setting up a meeting to talk further about what you need.
Of course the exception to this rule is if someone has referred you to this individual specifically to help you with something. In this case, the person has agreed to meet with you to discuss helping you.
Network Across Industries
Don’t limit yourself to just your own industry. Look for a wide array of relationships. By doing this, not only will you gain the obvious benefit of diverse contacts, but within your immediate field that diversity of contacts will become an asset. You’ll be able to connect people with whom you work with other people of similar interests that may not necessarily work in the same field.
Build Value In Yourself as Friendly and Helpful
In keeping with the rule to network in order help others rather than only yourself, focus on building value in yourself by being friendly and helping others as much as possible. Treat your network as your personal friends. Recommend things that you feel people will appreciate. If people begin to know you as helpful, your value to your network will skyrocket, and you will be referred more as well.
Be A Connector
Make it a practice to connect like-minded individuals together. This a strong way to grow your network. People enjoy interacting with people who have the same interests they do, and it doesn’t always have to be a professional interest. Clearly two people in the same field will likely want to know each other. However, so will two people who enjoy deep sea fishing, or playing the flute, or Indonesian politics.
The point is that you should just keep a part of your brain ready to take notes of people who have similar interests so that you can introduce them to each other at some point. Also, if you’re apprehensive about referring one person to another, then just ask them if they’d like to meet someone else who also … fill in the blank. If they so no, then no problem. If they say yes, make the introduction, and if the relationships turn out to be of benefit to them, you will have built value with both parties.
Set Realistic Expectations
Sometimes we can put too much pressure on ourselves to know everyone in our industry, as well as in related industries. Let go of that expectation. You don’t need to know everyone, or even “everyone who is anyone”. You only need to know the few people who you will work with in some capacity. So at a networking event, focus on meeting the right people, not everyone. Then later you can narrow it down further after your follow up communication further reveals the most beneficial relationships.
Also, don’t be too concerned that you’ll miss someone you should have met at an event. As long as you meet a few of the right people, more than likely, between you and them, you’ll all know all the right people, and you can then share contacts.
Use Targeted Networking
Although we’re encouraging a networking mindset to help others and to not be an opportunist, at the end of the day, you’re in business. While you may become genuine friends with business associates, you don’t network to find friends. You’re looking for intentional relationships that bear fruit in the business context. With that in mind, you should do you due diligence about who you’d like to get to know. Make a list of the top 3, 5 or 10 people you’d like to network with, do your homework on them and find out likely places you might meet them. That way when you do meet them, you’ll already know more about them and have more things to talk about with them.
Network with your Current Network
We tend to think of networking as something we do to meet new people, but you can also network with people you already know. Remember what we just said – work on being friendly and helpful at all times. So always be thinking of ways you can help and connect people you already know.
No Contact Owes You Anything
Just because you meet someone in a networking context doesn’t mean they are obligated to meet further with you, listen to your pitch, refer you to someone or do anything at all with you. Noone likes an opportunist. So don’t hound someone to reply to your follow or to do lunch with you. If someone doesn’t call you back, or they appear uninterested, they probably are. Focus your time on those who are interested in a relationship with you. Approach each relationship with the mindset of learning about that person and their business, and considering how you can help. Then wait patiently for reciprocity to take its course.
For more great networking tips, read Part 2 of this article.
Whatever type of networking you’re doing, Lone Star Quick Print can supply you with all the printed materials you need, such as business cards, fliers, brochures, etc. Contact us today at 281-440-1935 or at https://lonestarquickprint.com to learn how we can help your business.