All the Networking Tips You'll Need to Build Kickass Relationships - Sprout Media

Networking Tips to Make Networking Truly Work for Your Business

Networking can be a long fought, and sometimes fruitless endeavour when you’re in business. Especially when you are just starting out and low on resources to market your business so we all need some networking tips to make sure our time isn’t wasted.

Add to that the fact you might be starting out alone and wear several hats for each business day, and it’s easy to understand how networking becomes more of a check box exercise for some businesses instead of contributing valuable return on investment for your time and money.

We’re all looking for the same thing when we start networking, which is to grow our own business. However, that approach often means people make some simple mistakes that can undermine that goal.

Networking is about relationships. Real relationships. Not just an in-person leaflet drop with your latest double-sided, matt laminated business cards.

Follow these simple networking tips to ensure you’re bringing value to people in your circle so they become vested in your own success as well as theirs.


Stop trying to take before you have given value

networking tips

We naturally fall into the habit of trying to see what we can get out of any professional relationship, be that a sale, introduction, or something we want.

This will have the opposite effect of what you want to achieve with networking. You have to train yourself so that you don’t (at least at first) ask directly for the sale. That is until you are seen to bring value to those around you first.

Working with people to establish how you can help them achieve what they want is the surest way to get people interested in how they can help you achieve what you want.

Think about how many people business owners meet on their travels who all want something from them. Trying to force a conversation about your solution will only push them away.

Being a trusted adviser and someone who helps others around them will make you stand out from all the others who are too focused on their own sales targets.

Give first. The rest will come.


Stop believing other people care about your needs

networking tips

Assuming people care about your priorities is another way to come across as someone only interested in their own priorities.

Even when people are listening to you introduce yourself, maybe you get a 60-second slot to say who you are and what you’re looking for, most are not actively paying attention to your real needs and services.

In BNI, for example, many members say they don’t truly get to know and understand what a person or company is about until they’ve had a more in-depth 121 with them, so the conversation can be more flowing and a 2-way dialogue.

Care about others first, then they’ll reciprocate in time.


Keep your network engaged and up-to-date

networking tips

One of the most valuable tools in your networking arsenal is the ability to be a connector of people. Who do you have a strong relationship with that may be a beneficial connection for someone else?

If you are part of a regular networking or referral group, like BNI for example, it’s the network you have outside of the group that will usually be most useful to the people you meet inside the group.

Make sure you take regular, scheduled steps to maintain those relationships so you can count on people when you (or the people you meet) need them.

Who you know is more important than who you meet.


Don’t go shotgun when you’re in the room

networking tips

My worst experience at a networking event? I was in mid-conversation with two people I’d met at a Business Biscotti event at The Vale Resort.

Another person walked straight up to the three of us, proceeded to introduce himself and thrust a business card towards each of us.

He knew one of the parties in the conversation, so obviously felt it was fine to approach him in such a way, but this was my first experience of him.

With a first impression like that, you’ll only alienate the people you meet on your travels. A core networking tip of mine is to hold off on handing out the business cards, even wait until people ask you for them once they know what you do.

Those connections will be far more established than taking the typical scatter gun method – plus you can buy an extra coffee or two with the money saved on printing unnecessary volumes of those fancy business cards of yours.


Go beyond the room to boost your social media

networking tips

Make an effort to really connect with people you meet and how you can help them and then make a point of saying you’ll connect on Twitter or LinkedIn. Once you’ve done the groundwork to make a strong connection at your networking event, make sure you follow up on social and keep the conversation going in the coming days and weeks.

This will only make sure that people continue to remember you and allow you to begin your social selling efforts on the right foundation. You’ll be able to become their trusted adviser much sooner than a typical email follow up where “it was great to meet you, let me know if I can help with your {widget XYZ, service ABC} in any way.” – that doesn’t sound genuine to most people anymore and will undo some of the hard work you’ve already put in.


Do your research

networking tips

Following all of the above networking tips to the letter will do nothing for you if the right people aren’t in the same room as you.

Make sure you know who your ideal customer is and where they tend to network. Only then will the above tips really start to work for you.

And that’s all that needs to be said on this point. :)


What about you? What are some of your ‘go-to’ networking tips you live by?

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