“I HAVE to share some networking tips fast”...I thought to myself as my eyes were riveted to the cocktail scene before me.
In the left corner was "Fast-paced Peter" with 370 business cards. With the sleight of hand of a magician, he was handing them out at the rate of 25 per minute.
At the same time, he was receiving others at the speed of light without dropping one. And he did all this, while carrying on a conversation about the merits of electronic bicycle bells.
Now, in the right corner was his competition, "Serious Susie."
With her hips thrust appropriately forward, hair piled high on her head and a plastic smile holding her ears in place, she was a class act as she dispensed her cards with similar speed!
What were they doing wrong? Why did they drive me to want to share my super networking tips?
You see, so many business people believe that the holy grail of networking is handing out business cards. And that really bothers me!
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times:
If you think networking is about meeting as many people as you can, telling them your name and handing them business cards, you are wrong.
So what is networking?
In today’s world, networking is about having strong interpersonal skills. It's also about making a great first impression. And it's certainly about building trust as you build strong business relationships.
Ultimately, networking is genuinely caring about people and connecting with them on this basis.
But the real question then is “How do you network?” And can you do it in a way that will actually get you business? I say you can.
And here are 7 super, easy networking tips to get you started.
#1. Develop a Genuine Interest in People
This is more than a networking tip. It’s a tip for having a good life.
Remember, some of the most interesting and fascinating people might not usually get caught in your networking net.
For example, I’ve met housekeepers in hotels who were more interesting and had more ambitious goals than their managers.
And recently, I met a newspaper vendor who read almost the entire newspaper every day, by the time his last paper was sold. He turned out to be a fabulous source of information for me in many ways. And it all started with a simple “How many papers do you sell in a day?
#2. Really Connect With People
I always smile when I hear, or when I find myself using the popular term B2B (Business to Business).
Don’t look now, but business is done P2P (person to person). Have you ever seen two businesses make a deal? No but you’ve seen their owners or some other PERSONS making those deals.
When you connect with a person under the networking umbrella, you need to get past the title on their business card.
You should find out who they really are, why they do what they do, what is their passion and how it resonates with what you do and your passion.
When you connect with someone in this way, you soon find common ground from which to create something that both of you can benefit from. And before you know it, you’re discussing deals which can eventually benefit others and actually lead to both of you making real money.
Isn’t that what you have in mind whenever you exchange business cards?
#3. Know Your Personal Brand to network effectively
The big question is “what is your personal brand?"
It is a collection of personal and professional attributes which define you, your work and your business. Here is just a small sample of what's included:
- Your core values, which shape those of your business.
- It is the first impression you make when you enter the room and it’s what people say after you have left.
- It's in every email you write, in every conversation you have...every tweet you post.
- It’s in your image and the impression you help people create of you.
If you don't have a positive personal brand you will have difficulty networking effectively.
You see, networking is about connecting and when you're connecting, you're really building relationships. Building relationships requires warmth, openness, empathy, friendliness and being easy to approach.
When you're stiff, aloof and only concerned about getting business from the person, you will certainly be spotted for the "fraud" that you are.
Remember, you’re building relationships for the long-term.
#4. Develop the necessary networking skills
If you're going to connect effectively, you need to develop some key people skills:
- Listening is an important one of these skills. When you listen to people, especially when they tell their stories, you show that you’re genuinely interested in them as a person and not just a source of business.
- Speaking skills or the ability to talk to anyone about anything is critical to this process.
- Self-confidence is invaluable for enabling you to approach people and start conversations. After all, connecting is about building relationships.
- Business etiquette – I deal with this in more detail at #6 of the networking tips.
Yes you can try to network without these skills but your path will be difficult and your success will be longer in coming.
While I give these as networking tips, you will also find them valuable to you in other areas of your life.
#5 of Your Networking Tips - Learn to Give
If it doesn’t come naturally, you should really learn to give.
First of all, it feels good. For me, giving is a big turn-on. It’s just the thing to do and I totally love the pleasure it gives me.
Second, what you give truly comes back to you ten-fold. Don’t worry about the “how”, it just does.
Giving also builds trust in business and people like to do business with people they know, like and trust.
What you give need not be a tangible gift. If you introduce two people, who then go on to develop a long-term relationship, which is mutually beneficial to both of them, this is a great gift.
#6. Learn Business Etiquette
Could you please? Learn business etiquette?
I am appalled at the poor manners and generally uncouth behavior of many small business owners! They try to convince me that civility is outdated and boorishness is the new norm...
You could not be more wrong!
Many of your connections will come through attending events, so learn how to conduct yourself on these occasions. When you’re gracious, polished and at ease in social situation, people remember you.
Furthermore, if you know how to handle yourself in social situations, you are perceived as being equally competent in business circumstances. You can't argue with this!
You enhance your personal image and builds your personal brand when you acquire, understand and use business etiquette.
#7. Do Follow-up With New Connections
Will you please?
But do so with some thought. Remember you’re connecting.
What I do is send the person some snippet of information, a card, a hot link or something...not just an email.
This “something” is not just generic. It comes out of my sense of the person's interests, which I got from speaking to them. I then mention our meeting and highlight what I would have found particularly interesting or engaging about the encounter.
Notice I did not say that I try to sell them anything!!
Now it's over to you with my networking tips...
So there you have them...7 super networking tips that will actually get you business!
Apply these 7 networking tips to your business life and watch how you move from low-level networking to high level connecting. You could compare this to moving from good to outstanding.
Then, enjoy how high-level connecting helps you become known as a person to do business with and a trusted authority in your niche.
A word of caution though: connecting requires that your mind be open to business 24/7.
I’ve made connections in the checkout line in the supermarket, on flights to foreign destinations, at networking events and via the internet.
So the next time you see someone distributing business cards like crazy, they’re neither networking nor connecting, they’re just hustling!
To your networking success...
Now that you've brushed up on your networking skills...
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