The idea of networking makes many people uncomfortable or confused. It’s easy to see why.
Most people think about networking as insincere at best and selfish at worst. This is the complete opposite of what networking is supposed to be which is friendly, useful, and genuine. For most of us to be friendly and useful with people is easy. However, because networking is a business activity it is easy to think that we need to act in a different way. Unfortunately, most people when networking come across as pushy, needy, or self-serving even though they rarely act that way in their daily life. The good news is, there are genuine ways to promote yourself.
I hope these tips help you to be a better networker.
Networking should be to help other people. It would be nice if they helped you out as well, networking is a two–way street and your side of the street is all about helping others, not asking them to help you. Asking for help or for a favor should only become a possibility once you have learned more about the person, their business and their needs and of course provided some value to them, whether it is by referral, leads or by buying from them
It’s more important that you fully understand their needs before you tell them about your needs. Your goal should not be on the forefront of your mind. You are trying to develop a relationship with someone, which means you should be thinking about them and not about selling. Your job to understand people in your network, what their goals are and what their needs are to accomplish those goals.
You don’t need to know the most people, just the right people. There is no need to shotgun your business cards across the industry or to pepper everyone with emails. Instead, focus on finding people that are relevant to you. As time goes on, you can decide if the interests that you share with someone are worth pursuing further. It’s better to have 5 people willing to help you out than it is to have 500 that simply know your name.
The fact that you reached out and made contact with someone does not put them in your debt. No one is required to return the favor. Don’t approach networking with a mindset of making sells, try reaching out with curiosity. Contact interesting and relevant people and see what happens. Some of them will respond and some of them won’t. Learn about the people that follow up with you. Find out what interesting about them, what makes them who they are and how you can help them and by no means – expect anything in return.
Take time to define what you are looking for in your network. Occasionally you will find someone amazing on accident, but it’s a lot easier to find who you’re looking for if you know who they are in the first place. Be active in your groups and create a list of people that you want to contact. Connect with people on a variety of levels from a wide range of areas. By growing your network outside of the usual areas you will be more valuable to people that are in your immediate industry, using Tucker Communications is a good way to expand your outside network. The people you work with have personalities and multiple interests, right? With a broad network you can be the person that connects people across industries.
Don’t dismiss anyone as irrelevant. You have no idea who they may know that could bring you a Million Dollar Contract or Sale. Maybe you don’t think a local blogger or a small business owner would be a good contact because you work at a medical practice. However, when you open a new branch and you want to let people know about it, you’ll be glad you reached out to someone with an contact list that is outside your immediate data base.
When you think about the potential of what it means to step outside your comfort zone and reach out to people outside your circle, you will begin to see how profitable it can become for your business and how influential it will be for you.
Have a Profitable Day!