How to cultivate mutually beneficial, give-and-take, win-win business relationships.
To quote entrepreneur and public speaker Porter Gale:
“NETWORKING IS YOUR NET WORTH.”
Often perceived as disingenuous or exclusionary, networking has a history of getting a bad rap.
This negative view may be a leftover from the earlier times, when the workplace was largely composed of male leaders and had little to no diversity. But, a lot has changed since then. Nowadays, it’s more valuable to view networking as a “necessary and misunderstood skill.”
Social media, start-up culture, and the world’s entrepreneurial zeitgeist underscore the importance of networking for all business owners. If it’s something you feel awkward about, you’re not alone.
The good news is that there are plenty of tools and tactics to help you build valuable business relationships.
5 Tips to Improve Your Networking
NETWORKING IS THE KEY TO YOUR PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL SUCCESS. Here’s how to make meaningful connections and become a pro at building a solid network of colleagues, clients, suppliers, and peers.
1. Choose a Goal
Before diving into meetings and events, set yourself up for success by creating a clear agenda. Ask what you hope to gain from the experience. Are you looking to build relationships, contribute to the local community, or stay up-to-date with the latest trends in your field?
Establishing a plan will maximize your networking opportunities! Goal setting helps you organize your time and your resources effectively.
The most common goals revolve around a chance to:
- Build your support community
- Build your profile
- Find and win business
- Build your knowledge and expertise base
2. Prepare Your Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is an essential tool to spark interest and captivate your audience in mere moments. It’s a short and persuasive speech that you can use to promote a product, service, or idea – all within the time it takes to ride an elevator, hence the name!
Have your elevator pitch ready when you meet someone new and the conversation turns to your business. A short, concise pitch ensures the other person knows your business without going into too much detail.
It’ll help you avoid any uncomfortable, drawn-out moments and give you the confidence to briefly explain your business in no time. Make sure to keep it as your go-to!
3. Listen to Others
Take an interest in others and find out what they want to achieve with their businesses. As the famous African proverb tells us, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
See if their objectives or values match yours and find some common ground
Can you help them through your network contacts connections or make introductions that might be of interest either from a supplier need, a client perspective, or a strategic partnership?
Ask open-ended questions such as how, who, and why. This will help to open discussions and show your interest. YOU WILL BE AMAZED AT WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM OTHERS.
4. Leverage Social Media
LinkedIn is a popular and effective business networking tool. With it, you can reach out to people you know or their contacts for free and see what updates they have posted. Twitter is another excellent platform for networking.
Since it is available to everyone, you can tweet to anyone and view their tweets as well. If you identify someone you would like to know, start by following them and engaging with their tweets (retweet, reply, and comment).
Social media has led to many thriving business collaborations. After all, there’s a reason they’re called social networks. The real question is: Are you using them to their full potential?
5. Don’t Forget to Follow-Up
Staying connected and engaged is an essential part of networking. Showing that you are invested in the relationship and taking the time to keep in touch sends a strong message that you are professional and value the relationship. And there are many ways to do so – a call, a text, an email, or even a meetup!
Plus, it can open the door to new opportunities, build relationships, and expand your network. Make sure to invest in the connections you make and STAY IN CONTACT TO REMAIN PART OF THEIR PROFESIONAL NETWORK.
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