You know business networks are important, but are you getting the most out of going to events and meeting new people? Here are 5 proven ways to make every bit of networking you do worthwhile.
1. Create opportunites
Create opportunities to introduce yourself to people who could make a significant difference to business. Send a letter of introduction, card or make a phone call expressing your interest in them and their work/contribution to business and what an impact it has made on you or your organisation.
You could mention that you would like to:
a) write an article for them;
b) interview them for your company newsletter as a role model; or
c) simply learn from them.
Most people are genuinely delighted (and often surprised) to have some positive feedback and if they have time, will respond favourably.
When planning to go to a business function, take along several blank business cards with you in case someone does not have any cards with them. This way you can always walk away with their details.
While networking may begin with an exchange of details, that is only the first step in building business networks. You have to make contact soon after rather than just file their card, and build the relationship before asking for business or referrals.
3. Remember relevant points
When leaving a function, write on the back of the card three things about them – one personal, one descriptive and one business interest. That way you will always have something to draw on when you meet or talk to them again that is relevant.
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4. Ask for referrals
If you have established a good relationship with a contact and they are happy to work with or hear from you, ask how your information, product or service can help another colleague or associate. Don’t be afraid to ask your new ally if they know of other groups who may benefit from meeting you or how your products or services may be of value. Offer them a free article or newsletter both for their interest and to help them promote what you are doing. If they do introduce you to new networks you could invite them to join you and their contact for a discussion.
5. Build your profile
The above advice is all well and good, but clearly you need to be making the effort to network and build relationships in the first place. Business is built on relationships and trust. The more good relationships you have built, the larger your network – the larger your business network the larger your net worth. If building your net worth is of interest to you…you must build your profile.