By The Editor
Successful networking can make all the difference to your business’s success, helping to secure more clients and higher sales, new partners, staff and projects, and word-of-mouth publicity. Follow these handy hints to develop your networking nous.
Choose variety over quantity
Successful networking is not about hoarding business cards or cramming your mobile phone directory with as many contact numbers as possible. As US-based management expert Morten Hansen advises, you should aim on building an efficient network ― including a range of contacts with diverse skills and views ― not a huge one.
Be the real deal
You know that horrible feeling when you’re having a conversation with someone you’ve just met at an event but they’re not really engaging with you, or what you’re saying? (Perhaps, horror of horrors, they’re glancing over your shoulder for someone else to chat to?) This is a lesson in what not to do. Whenever you meet someone new, be genuine and make the effort to engage fully. Don’t view each introduction as an opportunity to plug your product/project/proposal.
If yours is one in a sea of business cards being doled out at a function, you’ll want to stand out. Following up on a successful introduction by sending a quick email referring to your conversation or providing some helpful information can make all the difference. This is particularly important if you’ve promised to pass on a contact number or made any other commitment. Do what you say you will!
It’s a two-way street
Like any successful relationship, networking is about give and take. You can’t expect a new contact to rave about or refer you if you’re not prepared to help them in return. Networking consultant, speaker and author Robyn Henderson suggests giving away a referral a day to someone in your network, “with the law of reciprocity, what you give out is what you get back”.
Make the most of business cards
Too often are business cards thrown into a pocket or bag and then not found again until some months later, when you’re struggling to recall the event, let alone the person who gave it to you. The Australian Institute of Management’s Vivienne Anthon advises that business cards should be treated with “great respect when you are giving them out and even more respectfully when you are receiving one”.
“Hold the received card in both hands and make some comment based on a piece of information on the card,” she writes.
“For example: ‘I see your head office is in Morningside. I know that area well’.”
Discover the new frontier ― social networking
Unless you’ve had your head in the sand for the past five years, chances are you’re aware of social networks by now. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc, provide countless opportunities to build a diverse network of potential customers and other businesses. For those still wary about dipping their toes in the water, click here and here for advice on where to start.
Have any other strategies for nifty networking? Please share them with us!