How to Make the Most of Your Networking Endeavors
Networking. Seems like we are all out there morning, noon and night, making contacts and connections that we “hope” lead to real business.
We spend so much time and yet many people don’t seem to connect the dots and do all that they could to ensure the very best ROT (return on time) from their networking efforts.
Here are three quick business networking tips that you can put to work immediately:
Get to the networking meeting or event early. By being one of the first people to arrive you will have more time to get the “lay of the land,” peruse the attendee list or name tags, speak with the organizer and / or speaker/s as well as the other people who have arrived early. Then, as new people arrive, they will naturally gravitate towards you and the other early-birds. (Added benefit: you don’t have to “break into” already occurring conversations!)
Don’t simply “collect” cards, place them on your desk or in your drawer and then forget about them. Enter the new contacts into your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system as soon as possible so that these new networking contacts don’t get lost and forgotten. (Remember that the goal isn’t to collect as many cards as possible!) Don’t have a CRM tool? Even if you are manual you must have a system that facilitates follow-up and relationship marketing.
Follow-up is key. Making contacts at a networking event or meeting is just the start of the networking dance. You need to connect on a more substantive level in order to establish a relationship that will provide the trust and confidence required to make introductions and give referrals. Be patient; follow-up takes time and may require more than one phone call or meeting.