Networking is the art of getting to know a colleague or other business professional while marketing yourself and/or your services. There is a balance required to keep interactions with you from seeming to always be a sales pitch. One of the ways to maintain this balance is to recognize the individual you are attempting to build a networking relationship with may have more to offer you than you do them, so don’t forget to share the spotlight and give them a chance to speak up about their experience.
Joining a networking group or attending a networking event are some of the best ways to working on your networking skills without feeling out of place for doing so.
Here are a few other ways to improve your overall professional networking skills and opportunities.
Be open to non-group networking
Use the network you already have stablished. Your friends, coworkers, colleagues, and associates know others outside of you—and can make for an easy and reliable way to gain referrals. Let those you know you are interested in expanding your network and they’ll likely have someone they would like to introduce you to!
We cannot stress this enough—you need to be on social media. Regardless of your age, tech savvy skills, or interest in social media outlets, you (or at least your business) needs to have a presence online—its where everyone is at and where most of your targeted audience will likely interact with you prior to even thinking about becoming a lead. Social media not only enables you to get in front of your targeted audience, but it also helps you to interact with them and build a stronger relationship and more trust between them and your brand. It is also an excellent place to expand your networking circle.
Remember, networking is like a job interview
You want to highlight your skills, knowledge, and experience without outright begging for the opportunity. Let the other person speak and identify their own need for assistance before showing that you are the right person for the job (or to solve whatever problem they have presented). Engage them in a conversation—not just a back and forth of answering a checklist of questions. When communicating with you seems effortless, your interaction will be more memorable and provide more opportunities to discuss business related opportunities.
Follow up and thank them
Even if the meeting wasn’t as fruitful as you hoped, it still pays to be polite. Follow up shortly after your interaction—you can email, call, or get more creative and send a card with a treat! Thank them for their time, advice, or just express gratefulness at having the chance to meet them and that you look forward building a professional relationship. They may not be ready to buy into your service now, but such an act will definitely keep you in mind when the time comes, and they are.
Networking doesn’t have to be intimidating—its just going out and meeting new people with the chance of also doing business with them! Join our Community of Inclusion Network and take part in an opportunity to not only network but also get to know a broad community of business professionals in the Greater Brandon area.