Expanding your network and referral base is smart business these days. But so many professionals miss the boat on how to network effectively! As you link with other people, keeping your old connections is as important as making new ones.
Yesterday I met with someone starting her own business. As we discussed how to build a network, I was reminded of the important nuances of building the network lifeline.
In my 11 years of providing sales training courses and tools for successful sales and service, I have been on the receiving end of a LOT of bad attempts to network. Most – and I mean 95% – of people that contact me to network really just want to know who I can introduce THEM to. I learned the hard way how important finding out what value they bring to others is before making these connections.
As a rookie, I was giving out names to new contacts very easily – after all wasn’t that what I was supposed to do? Until…
I realized that I was potentially damaging some VALUABLE existing relationships by not ensuring they would be a GOOD connection. I was wasting my existing connections’ time with people that they didn’t need (or want) to talk to.
Not anymore. I am more careful before making a connection. To value my existing relationships, I have work to do before I link them with a new connection.
Additional specific tips to network effectively:
- Before you ask to meet with someone to network OR go to a network event, consider what you can offer to the other person(s). Is it expertise? Other contacts? Assistance with something they are working on?
- Know your value proposition to potential clients. If you can’t explain your value, how will your networkers know who might need what you offer?
- Do your homework! Know as much about the person or the people in the group as you can prior to connecting.
- In a “live” setting ask people for THEIR business card first. Look at the card and see what it says – use that as a conversation starter.
- For live events, always have the following items with you:
- Your business cards
- A pen to take notes on their business card
- A smile on your face
- Some type of paper to write on
- Tap into social networking. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. All great potential tools…if you use them correctly and keep the first 3 tips in mind.
- Ask questions about the motivation and reputation of a new connection BEFORE giving out the names and phone numbers of your valuable existing relationships
- And with his efforts, I’m pleased to introduce Jim and what he does to you! His blog and newsletter have great marketing information. See how the value exchange pays off?
And a foundation element to all of these networking tips: Networkers that GIVE something to others before asking for something are much more successful in the long run. A great example: Jim Connolly’s blog post shows how a seemingly little effort of giving in networking can pay off big – not only for himself but for everyone else!
Networking with others will be even more important as the world we operate in shrinks with technology. As you consider how you will expand your network, focus on the song I learned in Girl Scouts, “Make new friends, but keep the old…one is silver and the other gold!”
Newsflash! In the next six weeks, the SalesProInsider will be offering more free resources for you! Two eBooks, a free webinar and more! Stay tuned…