Networking works. Or should I say that networking CAN work. We all know that it’s time-consuming, often expensive and occasionally, not at all productive.
Here are a few things that you should do in order to make your networking efforts more successful:
1) Have a goal. Before spending time make certain to investigate the group. Is this the right group for you? Will it be worth your time? Do you expect to meet potential clients or referral sources? The more you know about this group, the more beneficial your experience. Right now, most of our networking is being done on Zoom but it doesn't much matter. The time you spend should still be beneficial, even if you don't have to travel to get to the meeting. And don’t forget, if it doesn’t seem like it is the right place for you to network, don’t participate. There are many other places to network.
2) You know this sorry story. You have scads of contacts, cards galore and all sorts of names in Outlook. Now, what to with them? The truth is that if you don’t stay on the radar screen of your networking contacts you will soon become a case of “out of sight, out of mind”. Touch point management is the key to getting a return on your networking time. How to stay on the grid? Value-added email (that means links to articles and web sites of interest), cyber-introductions to other people that your contact might find valuable, invitations to events and meetings, snail mail, newsletters and more. The most important thing is to stay visible and relevant and that means being seen as a resource and not a stalker.
3) Patience is a virtue. Isn’t that what our moms taught us and we learned in school? The fact is that in networking patience is the only card to play. Networking takes time. Relationships must exist before any business can be earned, and relationship building takes time. Beware of the networker that wants to get your business before earning your respect and trust. Don’t get caught up in a "quid pro quo" situation. Sure, you might find yourself on the lead “giving” side more often than on the receiving end but give it time and you should see some reciprocity. Don’t get me wrong, if after a reasonable amount of time there is nothing coming your way, it is perfectly okay to reach out to your networking connections and ask for their help in making introductions for you. What goes around comes around. It just might take some time.
I'd love to network with you. Reach out (email@example.com) and we can schedule time to speak.