In the 6th of his series to the LPN business networking strategist Andy Lopata shares his tips for breaking down the barriers to successful business networking.
Why would you waste time making new connections or building relationships with people only to let all of the effort fall by the wayside because you don’t follow up?
Whether building the conversation with people you’ve met at events (NOT just sending a LinkedIn connection request) or maintaining that conversation once a relationship has been established, the value in your network lies in how deep it is as much as in how broad or diverse it is.
And that depth is built through ongoing contact.
Fun and Friendship
Networking should be fun!
Yes, it is an important part of your business strategy but it’s one of the processes in your business that you can fully enjoy, whatever your personality.
If you’re networking at events, many of which take place outside normal office hours, that experience needs to be one you look forward to. And the same goes for conversations you have with the people in your network.
If you don’t have fun, it will show. And people don’t tend to enjoy the company of people who don’t want to be with them. Be yourself, find people whose company you like, make friends and enjoy time spent with them.
F is also for…
Farming, not Hunting
Traditionally, salespeople have viewed networking events as an opportunity to ‘capture’ new business and stalk their prey. People don’t go to networking events to be sold to. Sow the seeds and allow a relationship to bloom. The rewards will be way above the short term sale chased down by the hunters.
Results from networking don’t just happen by chance. You should be focused on what you want to achieve and how you will get there if you want to get close to maximising your potential return.
Make sure you make a positive first impression on everyone you meet. Consider the way you present yourself, how you speak, your confidence and courtesy and the importance of a smile.
You meet a lot of people at events and through networking. How do you filter those you want to build a relationship with and those you can’t? With time limited, you need to work out how to filter. There’s no simple answer though.
Don’t just network for your own ends. Always look out for opportunities for other people and facilitate introductions wherever possible and appropriate.
With the growth of social networks it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you can simply network online. But you can’t build a relationship online to the same depth that you can when you meet someone in person. Find time to meet people face to face wherever possible.
Written off as a distraction or simply a social tool by many but a great opportunity to share, promote and engage. And where I turn to for many of the ideas in this piece!
View the series:
Check out Andy’s blog by simply clicking here
Follow Andy on twitter @AndyLopata