Networking is more than just shaking hands and passing out business cards, it is about building your “social capital.” Networking is more about “farming” than it is about “hunting.” It’s about cultivating relationships with other business professionals. It’s about realizing the capital that comes from building social relationships. Master the art of networking with these ten tips:
1. Follow up on referrals.
If you present an opportunity, whether it is a simple piece of information, a special contact, or a qualified business referral, to someone who consistently fails to follow up successfully, it is no secret that you will eventually stop wasting your time sending referrals to this person.
2. Have a positive attitude.
A negative attitude makes people dislike being around you and drives away referrals. However, a positive attitude makes people want to associate and cooperate with you. Positive business professionals are like magnets. Others want to be around them and will send their friends, family, and associates to them.
4. Remain trustworthy.
When you refer one person to another, you are putting your reputation on the line. You have to be able to trust your referral partner and be trusted in return. Neither you nor anyone else will refer a contact or valuable information to someone who cannot be trusted to handle it well.
5. Practice good listening skills.
Our success as networkers depends on how well we can listen and learn. The faster you and your networking partner learn what you need to know about each other, the faster you’ll establish a valuable relationship. Communicate well, listen, and learn.
6. Always network.
Master networkers are never off duty. Networking is so natural to them that they can be found networking in the grocery store line, online, and while working from home. After this “Great Pause”, we will soon be able to network again at chamber mixers and networking meetings.
7. Thank people.
Gratitude is sorely lacking in today’s business world. Expressing gratitude to business associates and clients is just another building block in the cultivation of relationships that will lead to increased referrals. People like to refer others to business professionals that go above and beyond. Thanking others at every opportunity will help you stand out from the crowd.
8. Help others.
Master networkers keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities to advance other people’s interests whenever they can. Helping others can be done in a variety of ways, from literally showing up to help with an office move to clipping a helpful and interesting article and mailing it to an associate or client.
9. Be sincere.
If you are not sincerely interested in the other person, they will know it. Those who have developed successful networking skills convey their sincerity at every turn. One of the best ways to develop this trait is to give your undivided attention to the people you are networking with.
10. Work the art of networking.
Master networkers do not let any opportunity to work their networks pass them by. They manage their contacts, organize their e-mail address files, and carry their referral partners’ business cards as well as their own. They set up appointments to get better acquainted with new contacts so that they can learn as much about them as possible so that they can truly become part of each other’s networks.
Do you see the trend with these ten points? They all tie into long-term relationship building. People who take the time to build their social capital are the ones who will have new business referred to them over and over. The key is to build mutually beneficial business relationships. Only then will you succeed to master the art of networking.