However, let’s not kid ourselves. You and I both know that there’s much more to business networking than engaging on business networking sites. Effective business networking calls for a wide range of skills and resources.
Business Networking Strategies
I asked just last week, How Much Real Networking on Social Networking Sites?
Frankly, I believe that there’s too little real business networking either online or off.
For this reason, I present you with a long — although far from complete — list of business networking strategies, hoping that you’ll find an idea or two that you can implement to your advantage.
Here are 22 business networking strategies:
- Always Be Networking - Every person you meet has the potential to introduce you to others in his or her network. Try to meet people every day.
- Networking is not Prospecting - Don’t treat all people as prospects. Your job is to develop some degree of relationship with each person you meet. This aspect of networking is explained in depth in Tommy Spaulding’s It’s Not Just Who You Know, which characterizes five levels of relating and explains the hows and whys of each.
- Network with Networkers - Business networking enables you to meet people whom you don’t already know. The networking concept is very well explained in Jim Randel’s The Skinny on Networking. Many of the people you’ll meet won’t have the inclination to share their networks with you. Don’t sweat it. Simply move on.
- Cast a Wide Net - Try not to prejudge people. All people have merit, and you never know who’ll provide you with a valuable referral. Targeting is a useful marketing concept, but in business and social networking, it’s possible to carry the targeting concept too far.
- Determine What You Want - If you don’t know what you want, how will you be able to tell others what you want? Not only that, you’ll be like a Sunday driver going from here to there without an intended destination. Become clear about where you want to go but be prepared to adjust your business networking course as you go along.
- Know Whom You Want to Meet - You need to know whom you want to meet, so that the members of your business or social network can help you meet such people.
- Fish Where the Fish Are - Join business networking sites and attend business networking events where you can connect with potential prospects and plenty of serious networkers.
- Focus on Giving, not Taking - I recommend that you read Bob Burg and John David Mann’s The Go-Giver. The importance of giving and receiving, not taking, extends far beyond business networking. You can become a powerful resource for your network! This blog is one of my ways of giving and being a resource.
- Be a Perfectionist - With key contacts, you can’t afford to be even a little sloppy. Polish your personal appearance, refine your business networking profiles and craft your communications, so that you’ll always make a great impression. We can’t be perfect, but we must at least do our very best.
- Strive for Consistency - Don’t rely on short intermittent bursts of activity in business networking or in other areas of your life. It’s hard to cram for tests, but it’s even harder to cram for relationships.
- Diversify - Don’t put all your business networking eggs in too few baskets. Be on the lookout for new and creative ways to meet people.
- Go the Extra Distance - When you think you’ve done all you can, see if you can do a bit more.
- Use Your Time Effectively - You can’t hope do everything, so employ the 80/20 rule and prioritize your business networking initiatives.
- Stay Organized - Keep a record of your business contacts’ names and personal information, as well as a log of your interactions with them. Find an approach that’s feasible for you.
- Pick Up the Phone - Get more personal. Use the phone, Skype and face-to-face meetings to make a close connection with your contacts and business networking partners.
- Build Your Network Online and Off - Don’t network exclusively either online or offline. Read Ivan Misner, David Alexander and Brian Hillard’s Networking Like a Pro. Besides being a master networker, Ivan Misner is Founder and Chairman at BNI, a business networking organization that spans the globe. It’s critical to recognize the need for business networking both online and off.
- Do not Abuse or Spam a Your Contacts - Aggressive behavior online or off will kill your chances of building a network and earn you a bad reputation.
- Don’t Waste Time with Overly Skeptical People - Preach only to the choir. If someone doesn’t get it, don’t try make him or her get it. Talk to somebody else.
- Learn from the Experts - There are many excellent networking books, such as the ones I mention here. Books, seminars and the people we meet have much to teach us about business networking, our vocational fields — and life.
- Build Your Network before You Need It - Harvey Mackay’s Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty is an oldie but a goodie. It takes a long time to grow a business or social network. If you wait until you need a business network before you start building it, you’ll regret your decision to delay.
- Be Authentic - Real people want to network and conduct business with those who are completely genuine and transparent.
- Follow Through - Follow up quickly and appropriately on business networking referrals. When people give you referrals, your actions reflect on them. Respect that and your referrals will grow.
Most people have business networks of manageable size. If you have an especially large network, you can hire a virtual assistant or an outbound call center outsourcing to help you contact your network. Good outbound call centers have a wide breadth of relationship management experience and expertise that they can share.
Now it’s your turn. As I said earlier, this list is “far from complete.” What are some of your favorite business networking tips?
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