The importance of networking in business is something which is sometimes overlooked. I will teach you effective networking skills so you can reap the benefits.
The Importance of Effective Networking for Business
Networking does not have to involve a conference room full of strangers in suits – balancing a drink and stack of business cards in one hand, and a tiny dish of cheese squares in the other – all with frozen smiles and a glazed look in their eyes.
You can meet someone for coffee or several people for lunch – that’s networking.
You can serve on a community board or volunteer at a favorite non-profit – that’s networking. The more opportunities you have to get yourself in front of people and to help them when possible, the more your business will grow.
Reap the Benefits of Business Networking
Effective networking will lead to referrals for your business – and referrals are based in the person knowing you, then liking you, then trusting you.
Know. Like. Trust. This happens over time. Keep this in mind as you follow these 4 steps:
Step 1 – Make yourself known. People like to see people in roles other than their professional role. I somehow feel more connected to my vet, for example, when I see her volunteering at a Humane Society event or if she recognizes me at the grocery store. It makes me feel good that she is my vet and I’m more likely to tell my friends about her. That’s the Know part.
Step 2 – Establish a rapport. Use the person’s name during conversations. Let’s continue with my vet example. If I run into her at the grocery store and she knows my name – even better, my dog’s name – I will feel more positive about her. Note that this positive feeling has nothing to do with her professional competence. She is establishing a relationship with me and I am, therefore, much more likely to remember her and refer her to others. This is the Like part.
Step 3 – Follow-up with contacts. You will meet a lot of people at conferences and company meetings. Don’t just collect business cards. Follow-up with prospective clients and industry partners. Keep a database of who you met, what you discussed, and then contact them for further discussion. This is the building Trust part.
Step 4 – Give to get. The more you can help others, the more you will get. I’m not suggesting that you only help others to get something out of it. You may not. But at the end of the day, if you have the philosophy of helping others in business, you will get back tenfold. Plus you’ll feel great!