Given the right tools, networking is easy. I am an experienced networker in Upstate New York. I believe there are certain things to consider in order to be successful in networking. Doing these things the right way will encourage people to get to know each other better and learn how to help and support one another, which is the goal when networking. I believe these 3 important keys helped me to be successful in networking:
First and foremost, you must have a good professional introduction or “elevator speech”. Keep it simple! Always be clear in telling people what it is that you do. If what you do is complicated, focus on what is most important. Also, what some networkers forget is that you have to tell people what you are looking for in your business. Tell them what types of referrals to send your way and how others may be able to help you. Keep it short! Once you have an idea of what you want to say, make sure it is 1-2 minutes long. If you are attending an event, be considerate of the time given to introduce yourself and your business.
It is a good idea to practice your professional introduction with someone so that you sound seasoned and well spoken at the time of your first networking event. Even those seasoned professionals practice their introduction time and again. It’s great to keep things fresh and up to date as you progress in your skills.
Practice makes Progress. Progress keeps things moving forward. Moving forward brings success.
The second thing I feel is very important is going to the right networking events.
Networking groups are great. It’s ok to attend a few different groups as a guest at first. It’s important to pick a group that you feel comfortable with after the first or second visit. Once you start to attend a group regularly, you’ll probably notice that many of the veterans don’t just show up once or twice a month. They’re at every meeting they can possibly attend. They are building relationships outside of the group, one on one. The more people get to know one another outside the groups and events, the better they know each other’s businesses and how they can help support one another.
If you really want to notice your connections start to spiderweb, find your area’s Business After Hours events and Speed Networking events. You can ask people in your current networking group about any other events in your area or you can search “networking event” online.
These events are a great opportunity to expand your connections. Always find people to meet with one on one after these events are over as well.
If you are attending monthly events and involving yourself in weekly/bi-weekly groups, you will find plenty of people to network with. Add in a good professional introduction and you are now half way there to being a successful networker!
The third important thing in becoming successful in networking is you have to be a giver.
You have to give your time, dedicate yourself. Don’t just attend a networking group once or twice and move on. It takes time to develop relationships. And once you do, it will be worth it. People need to get to know you as a person before they feel comfortable sending business your way and likewise you will need to get to know them so you can send business their way. People only do business with those they know, like, and trust.
This brings me to one of the most valued points about networking…you have to give to others. Give them referrals and give them your support. When people see you are giving something of value and aren’t just there to take, they will want to try and give you something in return.
I’ve been networking for many years and I have met so many people that have become friends and we have given countless referrals to each other.
Through this pandemic, I had to learn to do business a different way and tons of people came to help and support me. Each one of them are people I have met through networking.
Networking should be the biggest part of your business. It will be a part of how you grow as a person, as a leader, as a friend. Networking is relationship building and going the extra mile, creating new contacts which creates more possibilities for you to do business.
We only know who we know now. But when you network with others, each person you meet may know hundreds of people! And those people know hundreds more!! You can benefit greatly from meeting them and positioning yourself to be just as helpful to them as well.
I strongly encourage everyone to try Networking, but try it using the tips I described above.
In short– fine tune your professional introduction, find the right events to attend, and be a giver. If you have already tried networking, ask yourself if there is anything you can do better?
If you aren’t networking then I encourage you to find someone who is and talk to them about it. Feel free to have a conversation with me, I would be happy to answer any questions you may have after reading this article.
Just go out there and do it, it’s worth it.
– Mark Thompson