Networking is a focused effort to develop relationships.
New opportunities often come from the people you know and who know what you do. How often are you networking with others in your industry, company and/or community?
I started thinking about networking after meeting with a small business owner who told me his entire business comes from referrals. I did a little research into networking and how people get referrals.
Characteristics of business networks
1/ Join a networking group.
Find a business group serving the same industry or types of people that work with the same types of potential clients. Be sure to show up to the meetings because regular attendance effects your results.
2/ Schedule one on one meetings.
Schedule a one hour meeting with everyone in the group to develop a more meaningful connection. During the meeting, share your name, what you do, the types of clients you serve and the types of connections that would be meaningful to you.
3/ Connect people.
Some people make connections naturally and others have to be prompted. Don’t be scared to ask for a referral.
4/ Track your progress.
Business networking groups track the number of 1:1 meetings completed within a defined period, number of referrals and connections made and share stories about how the process has helped them. It keeps people motivated to show up and work the process.
Social Networks vs. Business Networks
LinkedIn is a great way to research people and build a network. However, it’s pretty meaningless if you don’t use the connections.
1/ Send a personalized message.
Start with a personalized message about why you want to connect as part of your request to connect. If you don’t know why you want to connect, don’t send the request until you know.
Linked In allows you to follow potential connections so that you see the types of things they post and share. It’s a great way to evaluate whether or not they would be a meaningful connection for you.
2/ Schedule a call or coffee meeting.
Get to know the other person, what they do and who they work with. Share the same information about you with them.
3/ Track your own results each week.
What transpired as a result of exchanges and referrals from/with your connections.
Using a social network to intentionally network might take more time and effort on your part simply because most people use it more passively. If you’re not getting the results you expect, join a business group or professional organization.
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