All business people are networkers whether they realize it or not. Some are more effective than others and enjoy it more than others. Anyone can master the art of networking with a bit of effort. Some people do it with deliberation and others wander aimlessly through the process. The most successful business people are the ones who do it with purpose. The result of intentional networking is greater profits and increased business.
If you want to become a more effective at connecting with people, consider these inside tips on how to become a magnetic networker.
Knowing what networking is
You can’t be successful at networking if you don’t understand what it is. Surprisingly, many people have the wrong idea about it. Before you can begin, you should have a clear idea of what networking is not.
Networking is not about being pushy or aggressive. It is not selfish and one-sided. It is not about who can collect the most business cards or who can shake the most hands. It is not about job-hunting or attracting more people to become your customers. It is not about how many “friends” you have on Facebook or how many connections you have on LinkedIn.
Networking is about who you know. The more people you know and the greater the diversity there is in your contact base, the more successful you will be. Effective networkers have relationships with people who have the expertise and experience to help them achieve their goals.
Developing a networking strategy
Savvy networkers have a strategy. Before they attend any event or engage in any opportunity, they consider the basics of why, what, who and how. Why are they networking? What do they hope to accomplish? Who will they be exposed to? How can they help those whom they will meet and how will the relationships they develop be mutually beneficial?
Preparing for and working events
Once the decision has been made to attend an event or join an organization, the clever networkers do their home work. If there is an event to attend, why is it being held? Who will be there? What will people most likely want to talk about? What is the attire? Showing up in inappropriate attire can make a person stand out from the crowd for all the wrong reasons.
Following up and following through
Follow up turns people you have met into people you know. Think of ways to stay connected. Some of those ways are as simple as writing a note, sending people information that relates to their expertise or interests, inviting them to join you for a cup of coffee or possibly meet you for lunch. If your parting words were “Let’s get together sometime,” do it. The Golden Rule of networking is to do what you say you will. If you don’t, you have wasted an opportunity and will forever be remembered as insincere.
Practicing exceptional business etiquette skills from start to finish
If nothing else, effective networkers practice good manners. That’s the magic of networking. Successful networkers make others feel valued by focusing attention on them. They listen and respond to what is being said. They don’t look over the other person’s shoulder to see whom they can talk to next. They put people at ease with their etiquette skills by making introductions and including others in the conversation. When the time comes to move on, the polite networker has graceful exit lines already prepared. By exhibiting the best in business etiquette skills, the effective networker is a person that others will seek out in the future whether it is for information, help with an issue or to offer an opportunity.