You’ve probably been told that networking is about building relationships and getting to know people, right? It is. AND just attending a weekly networking meeting and hoping someone brings you a referral is not enough. Networking is much more than that.
We all know that time is a limited resource for most business people, and it’s important to use your time well. The people who take the time to regularly meet with those in their network are the ones who come out ahead. It’s also much more than just a quick “follow-up” after you meet someone new. It requires regular dialogue. That is called smart networking.
“Engagement is an absolutely critical step in the networking process. It involves a promise and an action. In order to achieve success in your group of networking relationships, you and your relationships must promise to support one another and then take the actions necessary to fulfill that promise.” ~ Ivan Misner
You may recall the line in the song… “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you.” Let’s focus on the second part, getting to know “all about you.” That’s how you develop close business relationships. Getting to know the people in your network must be a high priority. It is basically the ability to connect with like-minded people to share, recognize, create or pursue opportunities not just in the meeting but making time to get to know each other outside of the meetings as well. It leads to mutual trust and respect. You have to cultivate deep relationships with your connections before you can ask them for a favor or expect them to give you business referrals.
High-performing professionals know their careers will be defined by the relationships they build. Reach out and touch someone. That’s when your networking skills really come into play. When someone approaches you to meet and get to know you better, that should get your attention. That’s what it does. It impresses me that someone wants to know more about what I do. That’s also what it does for them. It’s your chance to make a lasting impression. This face-to-face engagement is – in my opinion – the best way to deepen the relationship. Before I leave, I always ask, “What is the best way for use to stay in touch?”
Networking is nothing more than meeting new people and getting to know them better. It’s the art of building alliances. Your goal is to get people to open up about a subject dear to them that helps you develop rapport. A get-together outside of a meeting is NOT about telling them all about you. What do they like to do when they are not networking (families, hobbies and special interests). Don’t be shy to ask questions. Be a good listener.
Get specific. Ask them who would be a good prospect or referral for them, or what resources they might need. Find out what they need. Who do they need to meet. Offer to help them find that someone. You’re there to focus on building a relationship, not trying to get something out of them. Please remember that. Seek out ways to collaborate. This activity is reciprocal: other people get to know you better too. You soon become friends with benefits and remember, most relationships endure because we continue to stay in touch.
If you want an advantage in your career, you need to start building relationships with amazing people others have overlooked. Some of those people may already be in attendance at your local meetings.
It’s important to invest the time and effort in getting to know the people in your network. “Make” some time. Get to know your networking friends and maybe even get to like them too. The time you invest will be paid back many times over. Always send a handwritten follow-up note through the U.S. Mail within 24 hours of your meeting. This is not only a courtesy, it will differentiate you from the many others they may have met, however they will remember you!
Copyright © 2015 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Networking Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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