Before I share how you can get the most from your networking, I think it would be a good idea to clarify what I mean by networking.
How I see networking
Networking is about building worthwhile relationships with like-minded businesspeople in order to potentially introduce them to your clients or contacts. Networking is first and foremost about helping other people.
As the Author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want”
First things first
Before you invest in joining a business networking organisation or go to your next networking event keep in mind these 5 things:
- Remember the purpose of networking
The purpose is to build relationships, it’s certainly not a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s what you can do for other people not what can you sell to them. For me, this sums up the mindset that is needed if you are going to benefit from attending networking events. It is also the reason that it’s the first point on my list of how to get the most from business networking.
- Give it time
Just because you have paid your money and joined a networking group, don’t expect business straight away. During my networking skills coaching sessions I make a point of reminding the attendees not to expect any business in the first 12 months. Why? Because it takes time to build the type of trust that is needed before people are comfortable to recommend you. Sure, you might strike lucky or build a connection quickly that results in business, but don’t expect this to happen.
- You have to be in it to win it!
Do you remember the national lottery game show, you have to be in it to win it? In order to get a share of the £100,000 prize money you had to be in the winner’s row. The same goes for networking. If you want to get the most out of it, you need to be in attendance. You need to show up consistently. In other words, you have to be in it to win it!
- Don’t be a bad networker
Here are a few traits of a bad networker:
- Being pushy – shoving your business card into someone’s hand right at the beginning of a conversation.
- Not listening – because you don’t think the person you speaking to can give you anything.
- Not maintaining eye contact – looking around the room to see if you can find someone more interesting that you can sell to – NEW PREY!
If you want to get the most out of your business networking, then make sure that you avoid any of the above traits. Oh, and by the way, I find it works best when you ask someone if they would like your business card, that is of course if they haven’t already asked you for it.
- Follow up
There is no point in networking if you are just going to collect a load of business cards that end up in a drawer.
Make sure that you follow up! Preferably within a few days either with an email or a telephone call. It is also a good idea to connect with them on LinkedIn.
I hope this article helps you to get the most from any business networking that you invest in. If you require any help with business networking or any other business challenge, please feel free to call me on 020 8337 5937 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org