Networking is a key skill in order to have a successful career, but it is something people can find daunting or hard to get right. And, let’s face it, modern day business is stressful. So much to do, increased pressures, underperforming staff, low sales, deadlines, timeframes and stress.
You may think when will it all end? Perhaps never. So you decide that you want to improve your networking skills to see what other opportunities are out there, who or what could be good for business, other business people to meet and what new strategies or approaches are available.
Networking is possibly one of the most important skills for business and is one in which you have the opportunity to connect with others who may be important to your business. Learning and development, training programs and leadership forums are critical, but so is networking. And those who network like legends, who build and maintain contacts and relationships with other people skilfully, win in the end.
How can you make networking work for you?
- Make networking strategic and regular in business
It’s easy to go to any available activity, forum or conference to enlarge your contact base or meet friends, but in business it can be a waste of time unless you connect with people who potentially can add value to your business. Who is the target group you want to work with? Who can you reciprocate with to potentially help them too?Successful networking is a two-way street.
Networking needs to be regular and seen as part of your strategic approach to business – not when you realise sales are down and you need more clients.
Tip: Every second day, reach out to one person whose work you find interesting.
- Networking is not about you – so don’t ask for business up front
There is nothing more sleazy than an internet stalker who constantly asks their new (and old) connections for business …. in every mail. It’s a real turnoff.Build the relationship first, show interest in them and their business, get to learn about their challenges and successes so you can create a picture in your mind about how your product or service can help them. Then slowly over time, business results.
- Identify your target market and who you are reaching out toSending bulk emails to random prospects is like firing a gun into the air, hoping that the bullet will reach the target. In networking and marketing, this is a waste of time.
Identify who your best target market is (example: a CEO in a construction company, with 500 plus employees, operating from the eastern side of New York or on the north shore of Sydney). Even better try and find out what their hobbies and passions are. The more you know about your target market, the greater the chance of connection.
- Grow your Power contactsIdentify power contacts you want to cultivate and remember that the more you become connected, the greater the chance you will come across power players.
What you are looking for and are you in front of the right people?
These are people who can connect you with other powerful contacts and generally promote your business for you. Years ago, we started work for a large bank and today, ten years later, we are still working with the person at the helm of the ship who constantly promotes us to other business whom he feels need our help.
- Get your Emails rightAlthough I recommend that the best way to get connections is face to face, we cannot rule out emails as a valuable source of network building. But you must get the emails right.
A tweet may get someone’s attention, but when it comes to establishing real relationships, the conversation truly begins when you start the reciprocity via email.
Reaching Out (Outreach)
– When you reach out, keep it short and simple. The longer the email, the greater the chance they will be lost and not even read.
– Make it about them: Remember that if you write a long email about you, chances are you will lose them. Don’t do that, but rather focus on business, what they are about and what their interests are.
– Find a mutual connection: When reaching out mention that you have a mutual connection or area of interest (i.e. accounting) and raise this with them.
- Established connections Keep them in the loop. Send them useful content that they may find helpful, and not just anything that you send out over a blast. Don’t let your good connections go to waste over a bad email.
- Walk out from ‘cold’ connections You can’t win them all. None of us do. But there is no point in spending energy on contacts that you know will never materialise into anything. Unless you believe that they are a ‘cold’ contact now but could become ‘warm’ in the future.Some of them are ‘takers.’ They want to get as much out of you as they can, and it’s evident. It’s not going anywhere and will cost you energy and time, so you need to decide to stay in the race and keep trying for new outcomes, or let it go and find more fruitful prospects.
- Don’t Expect Anything from them Networking is about connecting, not what you can get out of others. If you get business from this then good for you, but don’t go into the networking situation expecting anything from anyone. Hope that you do, but it may not pay off.When you are always out to get something, you are not truly networking with people, you’re just running a long-term ‘what can I get out of this?’ game.
Networking is an essential part of business and if done successfully, can add enormous value to your business. People have to know you and know about you and by developing trust over time, people will give you business.
Would you like an ally in this?
Pure Magic International Business Solutions is an award-winning company, passionate about helping clients achieve strategic business outcomes through leadership, management and people development strategies and techniques at all levels and by using a range of easy-to-implement HR and Organisational development strategies.
To find out more, head to www.puremagicbusiness.com.au.
If you have ideas or concerns about your Organisation that you would like to discuss, why not book a free session with us via https://my.timetrade.com/book/QGY21 today?