Leveraging your personal and business contacts is one of the necessary activities of owning a business. People network for various reasons:
- To build their businesses
- To attract clients
- With no particular intention but to meet and connect with others in their industry
- Clear intention of looking for that next job opportunity and connecting with people who can help achieve that goal
Whatever your reason is for creating a network, below are some tips to keep in mind.
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Tip 1: Make a real connection
Make a connection with the person you are meeting. Be curious, spend time listening to his/her story and think of some way you can be of service to him/her instead of just launching into your own story. Try to connect them with someone you know who can help solve a problem they are having and maintain the connection on an ongoing basis. If you want to add them to your email list, ask them first!
Tip 2: It is who you know
In most organized and established networking groups, it is helpful to know someone already in the group; choose someone who has worked with you or who can vouch for you, establishing immediate credibility. Walking into these groups cold, not knowing anyone, can result in a slow entry and long acceptance period.
Tip 3: Get clear on your intent
Be very clear about why you are going to a particular networking function or joining a particular group. Do you want to be among peers and find referral and/or collaboration partners? Or are you networking to find potential clients? You may find both in the same group, but most people will network in one group with peers and a separate group with potential clients.
Tip 4: Know your potential client
When choosing a networking event where there are potential clients, be really clear who your target client is first. For example, if your target clients are corporate professionals, then networking in a small business type group, like a BNI (Business Network International), doesn’t make sense. Social media can give you a good indication of who is attending different types of events.
When you consider the impact of each of these tips on their own and as a whole, you are armed with the tools to network more successfully in 2018! That is my wish for you!