In the next instalment of his series business networking strategist Andy Lopata shares his tips for breaking down the barriers to successful business networking.
Join In / Just Do It
As many have stated before, it’s Net’work’ing. You have to get involved, be proactive and participate if you want to get results.
If you visit networking groups, join them, commit to them and take responsibility for helping them to thrive. If you are building your own personal network, stay in touch, support them and help them to understand how they can support you.
It’s often stated that 70-80% of all jobs are filled by recommendation or referral. You will substantially increase your chances of winning the promotion or move that you crave if you develop a strong, diverse network who understand what you’re looking for.
But don’t wait until you’re looking for a move to approach that network. Relationships need to be nurtured so that it feels natural to help you, not an imposition.
J is also for…
Strong networks throw up opportunities for collaboration that allow smaller businesses to punch above their weight and companies of all sizes to innovate and access new markets.
Don’t leave your networking to chance, you need to be constantly using your judgement. The best networkers know when to approach people, when to ask for help, when to offer advice and so much more.
Something else that requires judgement! Don’t leave your sense of humour at home when networking but make sure that you use it appropriately.
We all get them! Whether it’s the confidence required to walk into a room full of strangers or plucking up the courage to ask someone for a referral, networking gives us the jitters and we have to be prepared to overcome them.
Don’t use it! Take the ten year old test…will a ten year old understand what you are trying to say and be able to repeat it back to you in their own words?
Justify your Investment
Networking takes up time, money and (most importantly but often forgotten), there is an opportunity cost. Understand what success looks like and focus your efforts.
Take notes, whether in meetings, on the back of business cards or on your phone. If you make a promise to help someone, write it down so that you don’t forget.
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