Networking can broadly be defined as making and retaining contacts in the hope of some mutual professional relationship forming. Doing this effectively, however, is easier said than done. There are definite moderations to your initial approach and ideas that ensure that you’re covering enough ground and the ground you cover is fertile enough. Here are those ideas…
Mix the Personal with the Professional
Keeping two separate lives and working in earnest to ensure that the two streams never meet can be a real drag. You waste more energy keeping two parts of your life away from each other that, if allowed to coalesce, could enrich your existence immeasurably. Your family and friends are people with talents and interests as well as being people you love, they may be the missing link that connects your business to a whole other market of customers. That and you’re already on first name terms.
When scrutinising you at a schmoozefest, potential business contacts will want to get a complete sense of the person as well as the business they could be getting involved in. A good way to start on the front foot is refusing to hide or apologise for aspects of yourself. If you’re talking to someone with a Doctorate and you’re only an Undergraduate, don’t shy away from the topic and make it known that you intend to kick it with the best of them. Confidence and belief are more important than grades, money or socio-economic status. Make ‘you’ work for you.
Making a contact is one thing but maintaining it and turning it into a synergetic relationship is a whole different ball game. Just like you wouldn’t simply plant a seed and expect an abundance of spectacular wildflowers to bloom immediately, you wouldn’t hand over a business card and anticipate a 60% increase in profits. Make sure to speak more than once at a networking event, and, when you get their details to propose something concrete in an email: either a private meeting or, if the introduction went notably well, a plan to make some money together.
People live on the internet. Gone are the days when the only people who formed relationships online are pretenders with MSN or Bebo, now everyone and their Mum has Twitter so if you really want to reach out to people, sometimes the most effective ways involves a few thumb taps and staying indoors. While the social media version of cold calling larger companies in an effort to build a rapport rarely works, smaller businesses are likely to respond and other SMEs and you can form a community with the aim of helping one another. All just a few clicks away! Join us on social media: @emocto for all handles!