20 Ways to get Networking to WORK for you
Networking is a highly effective way to build and develop business- and social relationships AND grow your business. During my professional career I have found that most of my new clients have contacted me as a result of direct- or indirect referrals from my personal and professional network. As a result, NETWORKING is one of my top-ranking marketing strategies within my marketing plan.
Here are 20 things that I do to make Networking WORK for me:
1. I’ve made a commitment to include networking as one of my top marketing strategies. I plan for it, budget for it and make time for it.
2. I belong to a minimum of 3 networking organisations as a paying member. This means that I get access to the information about other members and regular events.
3. I show up and would typically attend at least 4 networking meetings per month. I further aim to get to a meeting ahead of time to meet fellow networkers informally before we start.
4. I would wear practical clothes with pockets, or have a handbag that is easy to carry over my shoulder. This frees up my hands to give and receive business cards, or make notes.
5. If there are nametags, I would wear my nametag visibly, usually on my right-hand side as this is much easier to read for others standing in front of me.
6. I come prepared. I have professional business cards with professional contact details. I usually have a notebook and pen at hand as well.
7. I take care to introduce myself first. E.g. “Hi, I’m Gina, I do not think that we have met before….”.
8. I have a short and punchy introductory pitch ready. I can explain what I do, who I work with and how my clients benefit in 20 -30 seconds.
9. I remind myself that networking is not about me. The more I get to focus on others and their needs, the more likely it is that I would establish an authentic connection and ongoing business relationship.
10. I take care to listen for opportunity in every conversation. This way I get to understand how I can link up with a prospect at a later stage and understand how I can be of service.
11. I prefer to connect and then move on. It does not serve me to get stuck next to a friend for an entire networking meeting just because it is convenient.
12. I do not expect to hand out business cards and have other people contact me – they hardly ever do. I prefer to take initiative to get THEIR card or contact details and ask if it is in order if I check in with them at a later stage.
13. I avoid having both plated food and a drink in my hands. It is difficult to exchange business cards if both hands are occupied.
14. I avoid eating whilst networking. It is not polite nor practical to talk and eat at the same time.
15. I take care to add new acquaintances to my database and keep all names and contact details up to date. I also make a note as to where I met them and what they might be interested in.
16. I try to follow-up with new acquaintances within 2 -3 working days, offering something of value where possible (e.g. an article, a free offer or useful information).
17. I connect with people in other areas, including personal meeting or social media such as Facebook, Linked-in or Twitter. I take care to stay in contact through my regular newsletters where practical.
18. I use individuals who I know, like and trust in my network as first choice service providers, provided that they offer a quality and value-adding service. Business is business!
19. I do referrals to those I know, like and trust in my network.
20. I offer to speak at networking events, sharing my knowledge, experience and skills. Not only will people remember me, but they get to experience some of the value that I can add in their lives.
Your professional challenge: Decide today what YOU are going to do to get networking to WORK for YOU. Commit to it, plan it and do then it. Ask me how if you are stuck!
|Article supplied by: Gina Mostert, Business Strategist, Consultant & Coach
About the Author: Gina works executives, business leaders and companies in the services sector, helping them to think, plan and lead more strategically.