How to Make Networking Work For You
You might have heard from people that they don't like networking, that it never works for them and that they never got any money. Sounds familiar, right? The truth is, often people aren't ready to delve into the real meaning of networking and end up missing out on great opportunities (and business leads). Let's take a look at some benefits of networking, as well as the key networking behaviours you should cultivate to get the most out of your networking efforts.
What Networking Can Do for You
Here are some of the key benefits and outcomes of successful networking. Remember, networking isn't all about making a tonne of referrals and selling your products- there's a lot more to it than that! Of course, ultimately, you are looking to find new business and connect people with each other, but with successful networking this happens organically.
Creating a Community
Leveraging your network is not just an empty mantra. Your network is a really important business asset. By going networking, you are becoming part of the local business community and building your own network. Remember, by being part of this community, you are opening yourself and your business up to support, as well as free business referrals. Contribute to the community positively and it will give back.
Learning to Succeed
By listening to others, you will learn what it takes to run a successful business and get real-life advice on how to achieve business success. You will learn about businesses you never even knew existed before, and learn about the challenges people face every single day. Use networking as a chance to learn from other peoples' experiences and successes.
Networking hones your presentation skills and makes you consider your business and your pitch from an outsider's perspective. By going networking you are constantly developing and refining your brand messaging. The valuable lessons you learn won't only help you professionally, they will also be a rich source of personal development.
How To Approach Networking
Having the right attitude and the right networking tool-kit is paramount to achieving networking success. The old adage about getting out what you put in is true.
Networking is all about opening your mind to other people and their businesses. It's also about spotting new opportunities and possible areas of synergy in surprising places. If you network effectively, you cultivate a culture of openness that will ultimately benefit both your business and yourself.
Struggling to feel open?
Remind yourself that you are here to listen and learn, not just pitch.
Commit & Persevere
Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is a network. Commit to networking by seeing it as a long-term commitment; it's the only way to get the most out of it.
Help, Don't Sell
When speaking to someone new, don't immediately switch to sales mode and try to ram your products and services down their throat. It won't do you any favours. Being helpful and genuinely interested in someone' s business, and listening to their challenges and giving them advice, is so much more effective. A hard-sell approach isn't going to cut it in networking; it's not what people come to hear.
What Can You Do for Others?
Don't approach networking with a 'me me me' attitude, see it as a forum where you come to help and advise others too. Don't feel like you need to be everyone's best friend and business advisor, but offer up friendly and helpful advice when the time is right.
Don't Assume Everybody 'Gets It'
A big networking mistake is to assume that everyone already knows what you do. WRONG. Most people probably still aren't quite sure what it is you actually do. Break down industry jargon to help simplify your message. Don't give up on pitching, but rework your pitch to clarify what it is you can actually do for the people sitting at the table in front of you.
Networking pro-tip: Try aiming your pitch at eight year old children. Sounds crazy? It works! You will get super clarity and a pitch that leaves no space for ambiguity.
The most powerful networking moments happen when you are fully present, ready to bring your whole self, and business, to the table. Thank you very much to Matt from Recognition Express whose Networking Masterclass at Business Networks SW inspired and informed this piece of content.