A couple of weeks ago, whilst chairing and speaking at a conference, I was asked a great question during one of the breaks. This person explained that they have over 1500 contacts in their network and wanted to know what best advice I could give to what the real secret to effective networking is? My immediate response to this was "Wow! that must keep you tremendously busy maintaining each of these relationships. How's this working out for you?" A little surprised by my response maybe, but this is a very common question I get asked and I really believe its about depth not numbers when it comes to building a viable network.
Networking is about relationships! They need to be founded on reciprocity and sincerity and a mind set of how can I add value to those in my network.
It's not just about selling (as some people wrongly believe). As EVERY job title needs to network, it's best to view it as a social way of getting together a group of like-minded individuals to develop, share information/ knowledge in your area of expertise and theirs.
Becoming an established and regular face-to-face networking member is one of the best ways to raise your business profile. A great way also to expand your markets, generate new business contacts with customers, suppliers and partners, particularly when you qualify your connections and find how you can benefit each other.
So what is the best advice I can give you for effective networking? It's simple..... to achieve high performing and profitable business relationships it takes strategy, time and commitment. They don't call it Net -"work" for nothing!
Here are some Invaluable Tips -
- It’s about quality over quantity and understanding the distinct difference between networking and prospecting - It's not a card collecting competition. Focus your attention on connecting with individuals who you’d like to work with and help out in the future.
- Qualify, qualify, qualify. I'm sure we are all only too familiar with the person we know who thinks that coming back to the office with the most business cards was more important than establishing a connection with others at networking functions. Unless you quickly want to earn a bad reputation and have function attendees at future events avoid you like the plague, I highly suggest you don't take play the numbers game.
- There are endless opportunities to network - Remember almost any person that you meet, whether it be through attending a planned function or event, or standing in a line when buying your lunch, has the potential become a key viable contact to connect with.
- Be different and make a great first impression - Ask them a bit about themselves before you start to talk about yourself, don't worry eventually the conversation will turn to you and you'll have your opportunity as well. Ask anything except "what do you do?" please! Also have a think about what separates you from the rest of the people in the room? What makes you different. Your "difference" must be something appealing that others will find interesting. If you're speaking and not getting a reaction, well, you are just making a speech.
- Research the right group for you - Find associations, conferences, and groups that are in alignment with what you would like to achieve as this is where your prospects are likely to be. The relevance of the groups you're targeting, the stronger the potential of meetings and referrals.
- Always follow-up, always - Remember to follow-up in a timely fashion. Remember to reference a remark or something key from your conversation as a reference point. If you receive an email response, make sure you add it to your CRM of choice or address book.
- Reciprocation is key - As Bob Burg once said "The successful networkers I know, the ones receiving tons of referrals and feeling truly happy about themselves, continually put the other person's needs ahead of their own." I could not have said this better myself. Reciprocity breeds reciprocity. When you give you get.
You create and manage your connections to fulfil your job description and achieve your goals in business and in life. Fostering your connections and strengthening in your relationships enhances loyalty, trust and integrity. Whatever your reasons are to network, remember... It's too late to build a relationship when you need it most.
Do you or anyone you know want to develop a strategy to Create & Manage your Net[works]? - contact us for a chat
Thank you for reading this edition of BUZZ, please share your stories or comment on this edition of buzz.
Also a big thank you to everyone who joined us at our Mid-Year Long Lunch last Friday. What a great turnout we had! Great company, great food and some great connections. To those of you who were unable to join us at the lunch, please join many of us again at Buzz Drinks on Friday 3rd August. Details below, hope to see you there!
As always, get in touch to chat further.
P.S: Are we connected on LinkedIn (julia palmer) or twitter (juliasbuzz)? You will get more articles and resources (from reputable sources) by linking with me there too:)
Here is are some articles that I was featured in recently...
A new article by me featured in MIX - "Making the Right Impression".
Read Dynamic Business article quoting Julia "Better networking key to women’s success in business".