The Secrets to Effective Business Networking
In today’s super-connected world, networking is of utmost importance for promoting your business. The process of networking basically involves interacting with a varied group of people in order to form mutually beneficial relationships. While the art of networking does not come natural to many people, it can be easily learned and honed. Here are some of the tips to help you connect with other people and network better to take your business to new heights.
- Expand Your Horizons: Generally, attending industry conventions and meetings are touted as good networking options. However, the focus on your own industry may prove to be limiting in today’s world. In order to create more meaningful networking relationships, you should step out of your industry borders. When you interact with people from other industries as well, you become aware of broader trends and may even discover new synergies which may have not been exploited by your competitors.
- Give First: While networking is considered to be a mutually beneficial relationship, it is important that you don’t overdo the ‘taking’ part. Make sure that you clearly state the advantages you can bring to your collaborator. This will help both of you in creating a more meaningful relationship. This approach will also ensure that your network lasts longer than the networks which are created with a lopsided approach. So, it is important that you are able to bring more to the table, helping build a cordial environment.
- Customize Your Networking Plan: There is no one networking plan that will work for all. You should design your networking strategy as per the industry you are in. Further, the life stage of your business will also have a strong influence on your networking pursuits. If you are looking to expand your business internationally, then it is advisable to join cross-border chapters of your target organizations, instead of being a part of local centers.
- Design Your Elevator Speech: This refers to a concise and clear statement of introduction. The concept is especially important for networking as you need to grab the attention of your target in a short period of time. Instead of rambling on and on about yourself and your business, you should prepare a short speech which can provide the vital information to your new acquaintances. The ideal length of an elevator speech should be around 30 seconds and it should contain all key information.
- Ask for Mentorship: You can easily elicit a positive response from people when you seek their advice. It provides a soft start and helps make your new contacts feel more comfortable. With this type of opener, you can put your new acquaintance at ease, helping them understand your requirements in a better manner. Further, you also get to keep your options open. For example, if you are looking to start a venture in a new market, ask them for marketing advice. This way you can get some unique and creative ideas.
- Follow Up: All these endeavors are in vain if you are not following up with your leads and contacts. This is important not only for new contacts but also for older networks which may need some reviving. You should ensure that you periodically get in touch with your collaborators and keep them aware of the latest happenings in your professional life. With this step, you can ensure that your relationship with them remains fresh. Whenever you meet a new contact, make sure that you send them a thank you note, to show appreciation for their time.
- Remain Active: Networking is not a one-time endeavor, but rather a continuous process. Your network has to keep evolving with time. The art of networking should become a part of your personality so that you are able to connect with people, irrespective of the set up. Some of the best contacts are generally made at unexpected places and through chance encounters. Always keep an open mind and friendly approach towards people and you will be able to grow a meaningful network in no time.
The art of networking is a useful skill that can help you tremendously in your professional life. With the above tips, you can not only start your network but can also nurture it with a long term approach.