You cannot reach your full potentials in business and career hiding behind the curtain.
You probably have heard it said somewhere: high network yields high net worth. So you should always be out there meeting people and cultivating the relationships in your growing network.
But for the network to be of value to you, they need to be quality network relationships. Not all networks are created equal when it comes to business and career success. You don’t need those time-wasting, blood-sucking type of network if want your business to succeed.
So, here are tips to help you build quality networking that add value to your business and life:
1. Show Up
As Woody Allen famously said: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” You cannot be locked up in your office, your face buried in your work and have a successful networking relationship.
Networking doesn’t just happen. You have to get out there and attend events or other opportunities to meet people. And you have to follow up and nurture your new relationships.
2. You Must Bring Something to the Table
Before you head out to meet people, know the skills, knowledge, expertise and other value that you can offer them.
Always evaluate your resources and skill-set and see how you can use them to be of value to the people you are going to meet. Approach the new people you meet with confidence and let this value show.
3. Open Your Mouth
When you’re at an event networking to build your list of contacts, it’s better to meet fewer people but become more engaged with them than to meet many people who you only have a chance to say “hello” to or do trivial chit chat.
Try to get into a real conversation with someone even if it means you’ll meet fewer people.
People will tend to remember you longer and think of you as a quality contact if they had the opportunity to have deep engaging and meaningful conversation with you.
4. Go for a Win-Win
Don’t form relationships based strictly on what you can get out of it. Always strive to make each relationship mutually rewarding so that it’s beneficial for everyone.
A healthy relationship is built on give and take.
As much as possible, make your networking relationships valuable to the other person. If your contacts get great things by knowing you, they’ll be on the lookout for ways they can reciprocate and help you too.
5. Don’t Be a Stranger
A very important part of cultivating network relationships is staying in touch with those you meet. Whether you interact casually on social media or actually write formal follow-up letters, it’s important to stay on the radar of the people you meet.
Remember that old saying: out of sight, is out of mind. When you disappear from the radar of a network, they forget you … they think you’re no longer valuable.
And the worst thing you can do to a network relationship is to re-appear only when you need help. I bet you hate that your Cousin Kenny who calls only when he wants to hit you up for money.
6. Follow Up with an Offer
For your first follow-up with new contacts, be proactive and offer to do something for them. Offer some kind of help they need that you can provide in just a few minutes. This is a great reason to follow up and keep in touch, and also boosts your relationship with goodwill. Your new contact will immediately see the value you have to offer.
7. Record Keeping
It’s an excellent idea to keep a file on each of your contacts and try to note as much as you can about them.
Record personal information of your contacts such as their interests, likes and dislikes as well as pertinent business information.
This data can give you ideas as to their needs and ways you can make connections with them.
Keep record of your contact’s birthday, anniversaries, their spouse’s and children’s names.
Jot down nuggets of conversations you had with your contacts shortly after the conversation.
By recalling such information months or even years later, that contact will think you’re a genius!
Knowing what your network really likes will help you in selecting appropriate presents that get appreciated.
8. Maintain Professionalism
Your professional networks are not necessarily your friends. For some with whom you have a more distant relationship, keep the appropriate level of professionalism.
Always correspond with them politely and don’t forget to say “please” and “thank you.”
Address them with their appropriate title (unless if they tell you otherwise).
Be careful of how you discuss about them when they are not present. Keep confidential conversations confidential.
While you may have the urge to keep talking to impress your new contact at a networking event, you will actually display more maturity by paying attention and listen closely.
You need to recognize if your contact with the person is intrusive and whether or not it’s valuable to them.
You should pay attention not just to what they’re saying, but to non-verbal cues. This is how you build a strong long-term relationship.
So, by now you might be thinking that this networking thing is too time consuming … you just want to spend your time building your business, and the little extra time you might have left, you’d rather spend it with your family.
Of course, networking requires time commitment. But that’s why I insist on quality networking. It takes as much time to cultivate a useless network as to cultivate a quality one.
Quality business network, however, is worth its weight in gold. It yields great returns in the long run. It can provide the leverage you need to accelerate your business. Useless networks on the other hand will only end up costing you.