The common concept of networking is “working the room” where you get around everybody in the room and no one has been missed. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Success is measured by the number of business cards you have given out and how many have been gathered.
Those who adapt this practice are no more than social pariahs – and have nothing to do with networking.
Let me say that networking is more about giving than getting. The common question for many when it comes to networking is – who can I connect with where I can get business?
That is looking at this from completely the wrong perspective. The very old, and very true, law of reciprocity absolutely applies when it comes to networking.
Your mindset has got to be about giving – not getting!
You shift the focus from yourself on to others. When you meet someone your thought process is not – what can I get form this person? It is so much more – what can I do to help this person? How can I promote them?
So, start where you are and consider – how can I share the network I have? Look for opportunities within your own network right now and see who you can introduce to each other – for their benefit, not yours!
Who in your network right now has supported you? Who could you connect those people to where there could be mutual benefit? Do that exercise right now!
Now, let’s take things a bit further. You are clear about your target market – so what other businesses provide different services to you to the same target market?
So, let’s say you are a specialist software provider to the fitness industry – what other businesses provide service to that category? Could be gym equipment suppliers, vending machines, towels and cleaning services – and loads of others. So, where can you find these people to network with – and where you have the opportunity to introduce relevant connections to them. They, in alignment with the law of reciprocity, will do the same with you.
My advice is to spend 50% of your networking time making connections with these other providers to your target market. This works!!
Next, what knowledge, information, experiences can you share with your network that will help them? We all carry around a lot of knowledge – life does teach us many lessons. So, how can you share that with those you come in contact with? Trust me, they will be grateful that you take the time to share with them the results of your life experience. It shows you care!
Think of all the books or articles that you have come across that would be really helpful to others? Don’t keep it to yourself – share it! Don’t be afraid that if you share something written by someone else, that it will take the focus off you. Nonsense – they will thank you for sharing! Just add value to the relationship!
Now, move on to the personal – how you feel. You think this is weird? Why should you share how you feel? After all this is business, isn’t it? The truth is that people still buy from those they know, like and trust. So, how can you know someone or trust them if you don’t know what they stand for and what is important to them, on a personal level.
Treat people as people – if you know someone is going through a hard time, then make a call, drop a note or an email to show you care! It might just say – “thinking of you right now” That’s enough! Be human – and connect on an emotional level with people.
Next phase is to strategically grow your network. Numerous ways to do this but I find the easiest is to ask myself – what professions who deal with my target market are not adequately represented in my current network? Once I have identified 4 or 5, I then research where I can find them and how to make contact with them.
Expanding your network is essential to the growth of your business, so keep growing and growing what you have.
So, in summary:
• Networking is about giving, not getting. Who can I introduce to each other today?
• Identify those who provide other specialist service to your target market and make contact with one of them daily. Spend 50% of your networking time here.
• Share your knowledge, experience, material, books, videos, articles that will benefit your network.
• Be human and compassionate
• Expand your network by identifying other professions or industries who are not represented adequately in your network, and make connections there.