Networking is a contact sport, it requires people to get out there and actively and strategically build relationships. What exactly does that involve? What defines “active” networking? This is actually a great question. It opens up a discussion about not only what it means to be an “active” networker but also what it means to be a “passive” networker.
You invite other people to one or more of the networking organizations you belong to, carry several of the business cards of your members with you all the time, and above all, refer your members to others whenever you have an opportunity to do so.
Active networking also means having a reciprocal relationship with others. We prefer doing business with people who do business with us. Why give your business to someone who’s not willing to return the favor? There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of competent, dependable business professionals in your area who provide any given product or service. They don’t have to buy something from you to reciprocate. They can join one of your networking groups, carry your business cards, or simply refer you to people looking for your product or service.
You use other people as a resource occasionally but for some reason cannot actively network with them. It may be because they represent a narrow market where you have no way of assisting. Perhaps they’ve told you they’re not interested in participating in any networking organizations. Are they located too far away to refer to them regularly?
Now that you know the difference between active vs. passive networking, strengthen your networking strategy by pinpointing one person this week with whom to actively and strategically build a stronger relationship. What can you do to begin to form a connection with them? I welcome your questions and comments.