Establishing and developing a professional network should be high up on the list of priorities for any business. It’s a simple, fun and effective way to showcase your brand and win business.
But don’t expect immediate success, it’s a long-term strategy and one that you must be patient with.
Meaningful connections are key to how you run your business and grow relationships. The goal of networking should always be to develop genuine and authentic relationships with long-term objectives.
So how do you create that network of colleagues, advocates and associates that you know, like and trust, to help you achieve this?
1) Keep it real, and listen!
For me, the key ingredient for authentic networking is sincerity. Like you, most people want genuine conversations, real relationships. It’s always better to have a meaningful conversation with a handful of people, rather than spread yourself too thin across a number of insincere, “networking conversations.”
When you meet someone, listen, and understand how you can help them. Nobody likes being talked to or, being sold to, so avoid this at all costs. Consider and ask relevant questions about their business with real, genuine enthusiasm. Only talk about your own business when the opportunity arises.
Make sure you have something to offer, do so with sincerity. Follow up on this too. This sets you apart as accountable as well as authentic.
2) Create genuine value – become a ‘connector’
Smart networking is about understanding your value; your experience, opportunities you can offer, as well as your contacts. Your authenticity lies in understanding how you can help contacts and connecting them in a meaningful, relevant way. It’s creating this value for other people that helps them become more successful.
Equally, raising your profile in this way is what will help your own brand and will ultimately lead to you winning business.
3) Give without expectation
This is what sets authentic networkers apart; don’t approach networking with a mind-set of what you can get. Focus on what you can give.
The people I’ve learnt the most from in networking are those who take a ‘pay it forward’ approach. They take the time to see how they can help, be it sharing their network, knowledge or offering a helping hand.
An outcome for you will be building your reputation, developing your expertise, and giving you that personal purpose beyond your own business, into your local community. Its good karma and it will come back to you.
Read more networking tips on page two…