1) Networking is a full contact sport
It is not for the faint or meek. You have to go into it with a goal and do what’s necessary to achieve that goal. Your feelings will get hurt, you will feel used, abused and even get injured directly or become collateral damage in someone’s plots BUT you cannot let that stop you. Regardless of whether or not you are in business for yourself, every moment spent awake is a networking opportunity, it’s up to you in terms of whether you take advantage of it.
2) Build It Before You Need It
If you view every moment live or virtual as a potential networking opportunity, you will create your network before you need it. You don’t fashion a parachute after you’ve jumped from a plane! Same is true for your network. You need established relationship credit that is ALREADY earning interest before your withdrawal or you take a loan against it.
3) Go Outside Your Zone
The best networks are diverse. They span industries, ethnicities and such. You can learn things and bring value to others both in and outside of your industry. One of the things that master networkers excel at is networking wherever the are – they don’t discriminate! They go based on content of event and/or target audience to build their knowledge and their network.
4) Bring Value to the Network
As you meet people, the first thing they want to know is what value you can bring to them. Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge and experience but more importantly, ASK what their needs are or where you can help bring value. This can be done directly, “I love what you’re doing and want to be a part of it, how can I help more?” , or more subtly, “I love what you are doing, I know XYZ is great at that too, I can connect you two so that you can share or create a syngery” .
5) Make Your Contact Memorable
On the back of each card or in the notes for each contact, capture everything you can about the first meeting. Literally do a brain dump if you can. If not, jot some quick notes down (memory joggers) for later. Try to capture the personal AND professional. Then look for how you compliment, strengthen or can learn from them. That becomes the foundational material for your relationship building later.
Networking doesn’t stop at the event or initial meeting. Stay on touch on a monthly or quarterly basis. Weekly is great for entrepreneurs but may be too much for others. Your contact should be succinct and provide some value or meaning – focus on depositing in the bank. Doing so makes it easier to withdraw when you need it.
Copyright ©GL Lewis & Associates, 2016