How do you feel about networking? Do you love it and look at every event or meeting as an opportunity to make connections for yourself and others? Or, would it be more accurate to say that you avoid it like the plague? Like it or not networking plays an integral part in generating business, but the reality is that many individuals are not getting their maximum return on their networking endeavors simply because are reactive rather than proactive.
Proactive networkers go about their networking activities with a different mindset. Here are some of the things they do that help them get a better return on their networking time:
Proactive networkers make introductions without waiting for people to ask them for a contact
Most networkers are extremely helpful if you mention that you have a specific need and would like an introduction to someone that can do the job. For instance, “I have to refresh my website. Do you know anyone that can do that for me?” or “It’s about time that I do a will. Do you know a good trusts and estates attorney?” Reactive networkers are usually quick to provide referrals and when done carefully, they will hopefully make a match that is productive for both individuals.
A proactive networker will respond to people’s queries for contacts but they will also put people together because they see possible synergies that can be leveraged for mutual gain. A trusts and estates lawyer and a financial planner, a web designer and branding consultant, an interior designer and real estate broker – these folks can refer business and contacts to each other because they have similar prospects and clients. Proactive networkers don’t wait to make introductions until they are asked for referrals. Instead they consciously put people together on a regular basis with the belief that work will evolve as the individuals get to know and trust each other.
Proactive networkers stay on the grid and don’t disappear from sight
Even when you get a valuable connection it can take weeks, months or even years for an opportunity to develop. Staying in contact by making proactive introductions, inviting people to events and sharing relevant business information helps to keep relationships alive even before there is business to be done. Reactive networkers run the risk of disappearing from sight and therefore never have the opportunity to get their maximum return on the time they’ve spent networking. Proactive networkers are highly strategic about their outreach, have an established game plan for their networking efforts and understand that networking takes considerable time and effort. They recognize they must add value right from the beginning, and not wait until there is a business opportunity to demonstrate their value.
Proactive networkers follow-up and don’t “wait and see”
Playing “hard to get” might be a suitable ploy when one is single and dating but is hardly the best strategy for business building. Follow-up after an event is as critical as what you do at the event itself, and proactive networkers often utilize a contact management tool (ex. Insightly, Zoom, One Page CRM) to help them keep track of their networking contacts and associated “touch points.” It’s highly unusual for something substantive to happen at a meeting or event itself; follow-up is the key to success and in many cases, reactive networkers seem to adopt a strategy of “wait and see.”
You are probably planning to attend a networking meeting or event in the next few weeks. Think about how you network and if you can become more proactive in your efforts. I can almost guarantee that you’ll recognize greater success from the time and money you put against networking.
For further discussion or comments, please contact Gail L. Trugman Nikol, President Unique Business Solutions, email@example.com or call (516) 935-5641.