In business today there seems to be a group for just about everybody – structured lead-exchange groups, industry and professional associations, Chambers of Commerce and Rotary Clubs, alumni organizations, and more!
It’s generally agreed upon that participating in networking groups has wide-ranging benefits. They can help you to find increased leads for new business, provide you resources to help address business needs, and serve as a sounding board and give you guidance when you have business questions or challenges. Yes, networking can be impactful and play an important role in your business development and growth, but how you conduct your networking is what makes the difference between success and failure.
Basic networking, or “Networking 101,” is for novices, people just starting out and those who have yet to master the “rules of the game.” This is a good foundation for learning how to grow your business through simple, straightforward networking (i.e., joining groups, meet-ups, and more). For the more advanced (and successful!) networker, there is “Networking 201,” which provides even greater results but you have to be willing to go the extra mile.
Here are three tactics of how to best engage in Networking 201:
Sure, I suppose you can wait for a contact to ask you to make an introduction on their behalf; how basic! Why not take the lead and put people together who you know have business synergies and who you believe will enjoy networking together? Their connection can be the same types of clients yet don’t have the same type of business. They’d be wonderful networking buddies since they don’t directly compete and can perhaps offer an introduction that would otherwise never happen. Many people shy away from putting these people in touch despite the many opportunities to collaborate rather than compete.
Advanced networkers make these introductions proactively
and make the opportunities happen.
Seems fairly elementary, doesn’t it? Following up is an integral part of the networking game, yet so many self-proclaimed “great networkers” just don’t get it. Their follow-up isn’t timely, if done at all, and it seems like they expect business connections to develop merely for showing up at a networking event. Fact of life: networking takes time and patience. Trust and respect must be earned; an exchange of cards is just the beginning.
Advanced networkers understand they are in it for the long haul
and know that following-up is a critical first step.
Networking events and groups vary considerably—in size, membership, reach, value. Advanced networkers know that they must assess each networking opportunity so they are not wasting their own and others’ time and money. Going deep into a group and establishing meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships is a more effective networking approach than engaging in a high volume of superficial conversations that usually go nowhere. Consider the types of companies or individuals involved with the group you’d like to join, and find out what types of clients they service. It’s important to remember that your co-members of the group are conduits to their clients and contacts rather than being seen as your ultimate customer.
Advanced networkers belong to groups that are appropriate
for their type of business and will select their networking efforts accordingly.
To reiterate – Networking 201 takes time and effort but the rewards will come to those that are patient and who follow best practices.
An interesting read: The Plight of the Busy Networker
For further discussion or comments, please contact Gail L. Trugman Nikol, President Unique Business Solutions, firstname.lastname@example.org