Learning skills for effective networking is like a round ofgolf. You need time, patience, and persistence, but in the long run it is worth the time and energy you put into doing it right. Networking isn’t just for the job search, you can use networking to advance in your career, build your business, or recruit new clientele. By learning effective networking techniques and practicing them regularly you can build relationships that will “hit the green” every time and help your business grow.
Build a list of contacts – This could be mentors, college alumni, previous employers, professional contacts, other business owners or connections on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Your “approach” to networking should be to make connections with people who can help you AND also with people you can help in their business or organization.
Take action – Once your list of contacts has been built. Contact individuals on your list by phone, email or social media. Don’t “choke” when it comes to being prepared! Prepare a brief script in which you describe yourself, your goals and a list of questions to ask. Make sure that you let the person know why you are calling/contacting and how you got their name. It is important to research a little about your contact. You should become familiar with their career field, some information about the industry and about their company. This will help you ask more informed questions and avoid any social “flubs.”
Manage your contacts – It is imperative that you keep in touch with your contacts on a regular basis. Your contacts should be people who are interested in you, your accomplishments and your career journey. And similarly, you should be interested in their activities. Make sure to keep your lines of communication open in order to maintain your list of contacts. Send them a message of congratulations when find out they landed their “hole in one” client, or if you know they joined a board or received an award or accolade.
Leverage your network – Use your contacts as references when needed, but ALWAYS ask permission before doing so. That way they will be prepared and know that they could be expecting a call from you’re a prospective customer or employer. Ask your contacts to recommend or endorse you on your website or social media platforms. I “carry” the recommendations I receive across my social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook.
Use your manners – Be sure to “follow through” and thank your contacts. Thank the ones you meet for connecting with you and thank those who provide introductions for you to new contacts. Do not underestimate the power of good manners. I thank every person who endorses me on LinkedIn. If they are taking the time to endorse me, I need to make the time to acknowledge them. It is a small gesture that can go a long way. People do notice!!
Reciprocate – Be sure to “honor” your contacts by returning the favor whenever possible. Your contacts may need your endorsement or recommendation, so wherever possible, make time to “address” them and reciprocate. Share their successes with your own network. You never know
Follow these tips and techniques and networking can be your “ace in the hole” to help grow your business.