Show up- This is first and will always be. If you don’t show up ready to network both online and off, you won’t be effective at it. Networking takes effort…hence the word “working”. Take the time to understand how the following ideas fit into your networking world, and you will do well.
Know what you have to offer- Without a solid understanding of what you have to offer, you will find it much harder to give. How often do you give any of the following to your network: Time, Energy, Attention, Money, Expertise, Connections or Resources? See, you have a lot more to give than you thought.
Know what you want to receive- When it comes to networking most people want the same thing: More Business. That’s great! But unless you can tell us what kind of business will be best for you, we will have a hard time giving it to you. The more specific your ASK, the better. People want to help you, but we can’t do so unless you tell us how.
Consider “After You” Networking- Everyone worries about making a great first impression. Use this to your advantage. When meeting someone new, let them go first. Several benefits are yours with this approach: A. You’ll demonstrate your desire to be interested prior to being interesting. B. You’ll have a solid understanding of who they are and what they need. C. They’ll be able to actually listen to you when it’s your turn to speak. D. If they don’t listen to you, you know exactly what kind of person they are.
Use online networking effectively- So many tools, so little time. The good news is they can help you expand your network FAST. The most important thing about online networking is creating and maintain relationships. The power of “search” is one you must understand. It’s about finding the folks you need while making sure those who need you can easily find you too.
Give when you can- You already have an idea of what you have to offer, be sure to give it when you can. We have all heard the phrase “Giver’s gain” made popular by Dr. Ivan Misner of BNI fame. It’s time to put it to good use. Give. Give a lot. Give every chance you can. I firmly believe that giving others a clear path (ASK) on how they can help you is an act of giving.
Connect others- Networking is about levering the relationships you have to create the relationships you need. This requires introductions. Don’t sit and wait for others to introduce you. Make connections for them too. The more proactive you can be in this space, the better.
Know why networking works- Networking works when people work at it. If you give to me, I’m going to make sure I do my best to give to you…This is the Law of Reciprocity. Similarly if you give to me, I’m going to make sure I pay it forward and give to someone else. This is the Law of Generosity. Universal Laws dictate much of our life and networking is no different.
Ask. Listen. Repeat.- When it comes to networking, and all good communications for that matter, Asking good questions and listening to the answers is at the heart of it all. Make sure you practice these important skills again and again. If you’ve ever wanted to honor someone, ask them questions about their favorite topic (themselves) and actually take time to listen to the answer.
Make it easy for others to help you- It’s a big world and you’ve got a lot to do. You’ll do far more with the assistance of others. Don’t make others chase YOU to help YOU. Make your contact information easy to access by putting it on your e-mail signature and social media profiles. When someone does say they will help, call or e-mail them. Don’t make them reach out to you.
Say thank you- It’s important to update your network on the status of any referral they have given you. It’s vital that you thank them for it. You can make a phone call and say thanks just slightly easier than you can go by a gift card to their favorite store or restaurant. Just be sure to let them know they and their faith in you are appreciated.
Follow up- This is the number one area where sales people and networkers blow big opportunities…they fail to follow up. Following up is so crucial that I dedicated the entire last chapter of my book to it. You can follow by letter, e-mail, telephone, video chat, social media or several other ways. How you do it isn’t nearly as important as you actually doing it.
Thank you for taking the time to read these. Proper implementation of these ideas will result in big praise from both your wallet and your network.