Let’s get back to the basics and best practices of networking. Here are my three tips for effective networking – the old fashioned way.
First, you must be committed. You aren’t networking if you’re out for instant gratification. An effective network is built upon a solid foundation of relationships that are built over time. When you make a new business acquaintance, take time to learn as much about them as you possibly can. Don’t look at them with dollar signs in your eyes. Take time to get them talking by asking open ended questions and listening! Are there common interests you share? Do your children go to the same school? Remember, people do business with people they like — with friends.
Second on my list of best practices is to follow-up after the meeting and be the first to provide assistance. Stacking business cards on your desk or scanning them into your Outlook doesn’t create a network. Sending your new acquaintance a brochure or sales letter doesn’t develop a relationship. And calling to set an appointment or make a sale is really not going to do the trick. However, taking time to develop a relationship is. For example, let’s say I meet you at an event and during our conversation you mention you are a dog lover. Guess what, so am I. We have a nice conversation and you tell me you’d like to know more about creating a dog-friendly office environment. So what do I do? I go back to my office and send a “nice to meet you” email, but in addition I include a link to an article with advice for pet-friendly workplaces.
Finally, give, give, give. Be willing to put the other person first. Find out how you can help them and follow through become the “go-to” person. Then, when you need assistance, you’ll be rewarded abundantly.
There is no better asset – personally or professionally – than a strong network.
-Susan Wilson Solovic, guest blogger