What does it really take to become a successful networker? Can anyone become one? You will find that successful networkers devote a set number of hours a week for networking and take it very seriously. Having a strong focus with clear direction is paramount for success. Typically, a successful networker knows the benefits of networking and exactly why they are doing it.
Patience is a skill shared by successful networkers because they value networking as a strategic activity for attaining long term goals and reaping rewards. For them here is no second-guessing as to whether networking pays off: They believe it works. Successful networkers are consistent and they will put in the hard work because the more you inject into the process, the more you get out.
Looking for every opportunity to network and carrying extra business cards at all times are keys to success. Networking can literally take place anywhere such as at conferences, private dinners, hotel lobbies, members clubs, exhibitions and so on so be prepared and seize opportunities to network.
Exhibit a genuine approach and especially don’t come across as aggressive. This is the start of a new relationship. Building cohesive relationships starts with trust and the sharing of a genuine interest with other people. To be interesting you must be seen to be interested.
Meeting new people and making new connections is the primary goal for most successful networkers. They recognise how important it is to have a mix of contacts and characters in their network. They will also work their network and make efforts to stay in touch and maintain relationships over time. Successful networkers tend to give more than they receive, and where possible, will make referrals and connect other people with their own contacts.
Be aware of the power of image when networking and understand why first impressions are so important. When you meet a new delegate you never get a second chance to make a first impression. At a networking event you never know who might be watching you, therefore, you need to portray a positive image at all times. Self-image management in business is essential because when you look successful you will be viewed as a successful person and therefore good to potentially work with.
Master the art of conversation. Before attending networking events prepare two or three networking questions in advance. This helps to create quality conversation and helps target key delegates that you may want to meet. Know how important it is to listen more when networking and this also gives you the opportunity to learn more about the delegates and understand their needs. During conversation don’t have a “sales approach focus”. It is vital not to come across as too aggressive otherwise delegates will create the wrong perception in their minds. Conversations also need to be genuine in order to build trust because in business, “people buy people”.
Follow-up with new connections is essential. Make an effort to allocate a time slot each week or each day to re-connect with new contacts. If you are the first person to follow up after a networking event this demonstrates confidence and that you take networking seriously. Ask delegates their preference for a follow-up, which may be by phone, email or SMS; this will encourage the start of a strong relationship.
Social marketing media is widely used by successful networkers. You should also combine your online networking with your offline networking. Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook are fast innovative ways of staying in touch with your network. Also, there is a rise in the number of businesses using social media as part of their marketing activities.
Create a unique personal brand. You need to differentiate yourself from other networkers and have your own core brand values just as in Coca Cola vs. Pepsi. A well-executed personal brand needs to be carefully thought out. What makes you so compelling? Would you not agree that any one of us can become successful at networking with an input of hard work and the magic of patience?
Bella Rareworld, Managing Director of BellaNetworking Events, provides strategic networking solutions by managing every stage of a company’s networking life cycle to fit their marketing strategy. Go to www.bellanetworking.com, email her at [email protected] or call 0845 269 8036. Bella Rareworld has over 70 testimonials on Linkedin onhttp://www.linkedin.com/in/rareworld For BellaNetworking Training dates: http://bellatrainingdates.eventbrite.com/ You can also follow her on twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/BellaNetworking