Everyone knows that networking is the game changer in growing one’s business. But just attending networking meetings are not enough. What you need to do is increase your visibility, build personal relationships, and generate referral opportunities by improving your networking skills. Luckily these skills are not very difficult to master and if you keep the following tips in mind, you will soon notice a difference.
- Networking need not be limited to specific times or places. You keep meeting people at various times in your life. Pay attention to those around you and keep looking for opportunities to meet people who can make things happen for you.
- Stock up on enough business cards. This might seem elementary, but quite a few people get caught without a card when they need one.
- Listen carefully. Express interest in what the other person has to say. Understand what matters to them. The more you listen, the more you will learn about new leads, market trends, requirements or changes in the industry.
- Don’t network with titles. Treat people as a person rather than a business contact. No one likes the feeling of being used.
- Get to know people and let them know you. People will refer you if they can know and trust you. Invest the time and effort needed to build that trust.
- Tell people when their help makes a difference. If someone gives you a tip, acknowledge it and share how it mattered.
- When someone refers you, regularly inform them of the progress on that referral. This will make them feel valued and keep you on the top of their mind for future referrals.
- Think of ways to keep your name in the minds of the people you connect with. This can be done by sharing interesting articles, industry-related information or even a quick personalized call at regular intervals. But make sure that whatever you do adds value to the other person.
- Give freely. Share referrals without worrying about competition or getting something back. Generosity, giving without expectation and reciprocity are the thumb rules for successful networkers.
- And never forget the importance of following up. Research has shown that proper follow up is the way to get the most out of your networking efforts.
Merit is important, but networks and relationships make the world go round. Nurture them and they will pay rich dividends. What has been your experience?