5 Tips for More Effective Business Networking
June 10, 2013
These days, who you know matters. Whether you are a business owner looking for a partnership or some other deal, or whether you are trying to advance up the corporate ladder, a good network can help. Even if you are unemployed, the right approach networking can help you find a job.
If you want to boost your networking efforts, here are some tips that can help you improve your chances of seeing the outcome you want:
1. Figure Out What You Want to Accomplish
You are always more effective at anything you do when you know what you want to accomplish. This means you need to consider your goals, and figure out how networking can help you reach those goals.
In many cases, the goal of networking is simply to establish contact with like-minded people, or find associates that can help you later. However, if you have a specific purpose for networking, such as expanding your client base, finding a job, or angling for a promotion, keep that in mind.
2. Prepare Your Elevator Pitch
One of the most effective networking techniques is letting others know what you do. This way, those you meet can quickly see how they can help you. Take the time to craft a good elevator pitch that explains who you are and what you do in under 45 seconds. It may take a few times to refine your pitch. One thing you can do is think about how you describe yourself on social media, or how you would explain what you do to a stranger at a dinner party. When you are clear about who you are, what you do, and what you have to offer, those you meet are more likely to immediately connect you with needs that others may have.
3. Decide Whom to Approach
Now that you know what you want to accomplish, you need to decide which contacts are most likely to be valuable to your efforts. Do a little research and figure out whom to approach. Are there specific people known in your field that are likely to be useful contacts to have? Is there someone well-connected with a network that you can be plugged into?
Sometimes itâ€™s not about the network and more about the knowledge and expertise. Identify contacts who can offer help and advice. Even if you arenâ€™t hooked up with an amazing opportunity, you can still receive useful information that will help you proceed going forward.
4. Contact the Person through Multiple Channels
This is easier when you are at a networking event. At conferences, trade shows, and other events, there is a certain expectation that networking will take place. You can contact the person easily, and converse with them. Then, after you get home, connect on LinkedIn, adding a short personal message about how you met. This is important, since it reminds the person that you do have a personal connection.
You can make connections online, though. After you have prepared your social media profiles, and after have made a few interesting observations, start following the person. Leave a good comment or two on his or her blog. Follow on Twitter and retweet a few items. You want to be careful not to cross the line into online stalking, though. Once you have had a few such interactions, you can email the person and ask for advice or help. Just ask a question or two, and express your interest in learning a little more.
5. Give Back
Make sure that you give back. When you are part of a network, you are expected to be able to contribute as well. When you receive help, be appreciative. When something useful comes in your way, or you learn of a new tip, pass it along to those in your network. When you show yourself helpful, others will want to help you in return.
What are some other effective business networking tips? Leave a comment!
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