An Overlooked and Vital Key to Successful Business Networking
The basic principle of networking, in the business world, is to meet with other professionals and build positive relationships to help each other succeed.
Ask a room full of people what business networking is and you are likely to get similar but slightly different answers from each of them. Beneficial relationships should be based on personal connections, sharing information and mutual support.
Networking is essential for any business person whatever career you are in. Whether you are an introvert who finds the idea stressful or someone who loves to meet new people, creating a supportive network is an important part of being successful. There is more to it than exchanging business cards though.
There is an art to networking successfully. One of the key things to remember is that it is not just about you. Networking is about forming mutually beneficial connections. This is often overlooked in the race to find contacts and see what they can do for you. Making true connections with people and focusing on what you can do to benefit them will also benefit you in the long run.
Here we look at how you can refocus your energy and make real connections. In order to network successfully and build strong positive relationships.
Define Your Goals
One of the first steps is to decide what type of people you want to meet and why. When you have a good idea of your goals you can decide where is best to meet those people. Networking is not only about making business connections. It can also be about learning and making new contacts in various fields.
Staying focused on the type of people you want to meet and how the opportunity can be beneficial to both the parties will help you figure out where to look for new contacts. It may be useful to go to a networking event or join a group. Volunteering is also a great way to meet new people and build relationships. There are plenty of opportunities to network in daily life it does not have to be at a specific event.
Align Your Energy and Mindset
Once you have decided on an event or place where you can network it is important to align your energy and mindset before you go. Walking into a room full of strangers and starting conversations can be intimidating. If you go in with the right mindset and energy though, your experience will be a whole lot better.
You want to be confident and friendly then leave your ego behind. Smile and remember you are on a level playing field. Do not let feelings of doubt make you feel separated, inferior or even superior to people. The goal is to be open to building connections and show you have value to give.
Having an open mindset and positive energy shows in the way you present yourself. It will help you be more confident and network successfully.
Search for Real Connections
Making real connections is very important, this will help build strong, lasting relationships. Don’t just think about what contacts can do well for you or your business, show interest in their life, and what is important to them. It is a good idea to build emotional connections with things you have in common.
Are you passionate about the same issues or places, support the same sports team or maybe you both have children in school? By paying attention to details and establishing emotional connections from the start, you can create genuine connections and friendships.
Pay it Forward
When meeting new people focus on what you can do to benefit them. Showing interest in their lives and making personal connections will build strong relationships. Networking is an effort to help advance your career success but it is also based on mutually beneficial relationships.
Showing what value you have to offer and focusing on how you can help them will make people more open to connecting with you. These contacts will then likely help you at some point in the future.
Quality Over Quantity
Networking is not about the number of business cards you can collect. It is about making genuine connections and building a community of fellow professionals. Through which you can share information and support to each other, now and in the future.
Therefore it is better to take the time to get to know people and build quality connections. Rather than working quickly through a room just taking contact details. A strong genuine network will set you up for success.
This may seem like taking the long route to connect with the actual person you want to. But it can actually work in your favor. Leveraging contacts in your spheres of influence that know the person directly can help you get an introduction. Being introduced or referred by a trusted person they already know can create a good first impression and help break the ice. It gives you more credibility when you do connect with them.
When you have made connections with people at a networking event or wherever you met them, it is vital to follow up with them. Have a system in place to organize all the connections you make when networking and how you will follow up with them.
It could be a quick call or email, or connecting with them on Linkedin after the event. Making the effort to stay in touch will show you appreciated meeting them and that you value the relationship.
Also, be sure to check in on them from time to time. The frequency of your interactions will depend on the strength and depth of the relationship but it is beneficial to stay in touch in some way. For example, occasionally liking and sharing their posts or articles on social media. Or sending a message to congratulate them on important milestones. This will help them keep you in mind in case an opportunity comes up.