Growing your business by networking and referrals makes a lot of sense in today’s business environment. Most business is personal these days. With increasing levels of fraud, scams and other challenges, building trusted relationships that lead to recommendations and introductions is one of the best ways to use your time. The best way to become a networking master is to copy the great networkers. Here are 10 things you will always see the best networkers doing.
1. Have a strategy
You have to know who you want to meet and why. If you wing it, you’ll just end up talking to the wrong people with none of the results you want. That’s just a waste of time.
2. Work your strengths
There are many ways to network productively and build your connections. Choose the ones that play to your natural strengths and skills. Maybe you’re strongest in high-end, black-tie events. Or maybe your strength is in large, casual environments. You decide. But know what your strengths are and make the most of them.
3. Show up
You’ve got to get out there and mix it up with people. You can’t wait for the world to come to you. If you’re not in the game, you cannot hope to win.
4. Work the room
It’s important to know how to move in and out of groups and how to approach people. These skills are vital to making your networking profitable and productive. Otherwise you’re just a wallflower.
5. Prepare your pitch
When asked, “What do you do?” a surprising number of people don’t know what to say. Come on! This is your elevator pitch! You need to prepare something distinctive and memorable. Know it. Rehearse it. Refine it.
6. Do the small talk
Small talk oils the wheels of conversation. Trust is often built up more in the non-business conversations than in the business discussions. Keep up with sports, weather reports, local news and other things that people talk about.
7. Ask good questions
Great questions get people to open up. They’ll remember you. Most importantly, they’ll want to speak to you again. Asking good questions means you were really listening and that builds trust.
8. Be a connector
How valuable are you? How much are you worth knowing? You might have lots of knowledge, skill or experience, but if you don’t connect people it won’t amount to much. You can make yourself stand out by connecting people to other people. Find out who other people need to know and learn how to introduce them to those people who can best help them succeed. They’ll remember you.
9. Follow up
The biggest mistake most networkers make is failing to follow up. They just collect a bunch of business cards and don’t do anything with them. If someone is worth talking to, they’re worth following up. Send an Email, make a phone call, or, best of all, send a handwritten note.
10. Keep in touch
Once you’ve made a connection, grow the value of that connection by staying in touch. Connect on LinkedIn. like their Facebook page. Follow them on Twitter. Call every once in a while. When you see an opportunity or piece of information that can be valuable to them, send it over with a quick note. These things are the stuff that builds relationships and develops trust.