Throughout history, fortunes have been made by people whose first big break came from a friend of a friend or a close contact. Long before computers and the internet, there was another way to make business connections - networking. By networking with others, you have the ability to open opportunities and make connections that could lead to your ultimate success.
Business is an art based upon human connection and emotion and to effectively develop meaningful relationships, you need to get out from behind your computer and engage in meaningful conversations, support and introductions.
Here are some tips for effective networking:
- Openly engage with others: Be proud of what you do and don't hesitate to talk to others about yourself and your business but do not focus on yourself. Get involved in conversations and allow the other person to talk about what they do as well. Once you find a commonality, leverage it for additional conversation.
- Be visible: Join meetings, groups, functions, and forums. Any venue that brings together groups of like-minded people that allows you to network with others. Trade associations, chamber of commerce and local business support groups are a great way to get involved. Be sure to participate and to be active in your groups. Get out there, get involved and meet people.
- Become an expert in your field: Positioning yourself as an expert in your field will allow your reputation to flourish. Networking will be easier because others will seek you out simply for your expertise on a particular subject matter.
- Give and you shall receive: These are the BLAST marketing words of wisdom. Offer free advice, suggestions and help to others looking for it. Write articles, whitepapers and blog posts to support your credibility as an expert and give your information away freely.
- Keep a contact file: Networking is about developing systems. You should have a system for keeping information on the contacts you meet including contact information, discussion, personal information and what they do.
- Develop a follow up system: Follow up is critical in networking. Be sure to create a system that automates your follow up. The key is to develop relationships so follow up is an essential piece of networking and allows you to set up subsequent meetings and discussions to help further your objective.
- Connect other together: A master networking taps into his or her networks and makes connections for others to come together and do business together. Take a look at your network and identify needs and challenges and make introductions to others in your network for the sole purpose of helping someone else with no expectation of an outcome.