Business networking is booming! The need for our fellow networkers to be geographically accessible became irrelevant once everyone became tethered to a computer. As long as you have internet access, you can network to your heart’s content.
That’s all well and good but, networking, effective networking anyway, is much more than simply “showing up” whether in-person or on a screen. It takes time, commitment, and creativity to generate positive results. It always has and always will!
Here are three things that you should do to get the very best ROI from your networking endeavors:
Stay on the radar screen of your networking contacts
Networking is a long game, and expecting introductions, leads, and actual business to come your way within weeks or even months is unrealistic. It takes time to build relationships and gain the respect and trust required before anyone can feel comfortable making an introduction for you. With that being the case, it is critically important that you don’t fall into the black hole better known as “out of sight, out of mind.” Create an impactful touch point management plan and be patient. Remember to add value to the relationship as it continues to blossom, and it will be easier for your networking contacts to keep you top of mind.
Be proactive and actively look for opportunities to put people together
Being able to put two people together because they asked for an introduction to a resource in a specific category (“Hey, do you happen to know a good ________”), is a beautiful thing for networkers, providing the chance to “tee someone up” for a real opportunity. The unfortunate thing is that those types of requests don’t happen as frequently as one would wish, and so the next best thing is to make introductions because the people you are putting together fall into one of these categories:
- Work with the same market but provide different products or services
- Have synergistic businesses making it easy to introduce their fellow networker’s products or services to their clients or their referral sources
- Share common interests (personal or professional)
Don’t over-think the introduction. Send both people an email introducing them to one another and tell them why you are making the introduction.
Leave it there and let them handle the rest.
Be interested as well as interesting
The very best way for someone to be interested in you is for you to be interested in them. (Hint, if you find yourself in an unfortunate situation where that isn’t the case, attempt to extricate yourself at the most convenient moment!). If you ask questions about your fellow networker’s business and their outside interests, they are bound to ask you similar questions. Effective networking cannot be comprised of a one-sided monologue and if it appears that this is where the conversation is headed, you can either cut short the networking exchange or very politely ask them if they would like to learn a little bit about you.
The truth is that some people are intrinsically better at networking than others. They enjoy every aspect of the activity and because that’s the case, they tend to do it well. For others, networking is perceived as a necessary evil and the opposite holds true for them.
Bottom line, if you network correctly, you will get better results from your endeavors and who doesn’t like an activity that leads them to business friendships, introductions, leads, and ultimately business?