As I have been on-boarding my new intern, Priya, we have been discussing what makes a good networker. Interestingly, it may not be what you would expect. Although networking can be one of the most powerful marketing tools you can use, it can also be very ineffective. Many people think they are good networkers, but aren’t and many people could be great networkers, but just aren’t sure what to do.
I have asked Priya to summarize our conversations and share our perspectives which will provide you with some information about networking that you may not have thought about, or maybe just need reminded about:
It is clear, that if done correctly, effective networking is one of the most essential components of achieving success in the business realm. When it comes to networking, most people fall into three camps. Those that do networking and do it well, those that do networking, but aren’t very effective at it and those that know they should network, but just don’t know how.
Strong networkers typically have a solid plan in place. As with any good plan, to stay current and relevant it always makes sense to look at your progress and strategy on an ongoing basis to validate results you have achieved and to look for areas of improvement. If you do something well, it is easy to get complacent which could result in missed opportunities. An important consideration for those who have an existing networking plan is to take a second look at what they are currently doing and make sure that they are actually getting the results they want. Most people understand the power of networking and its significance in business. The problem is that the majority of these peoples’ networking plans just aren’t as effective as they are believed to be.
For this reason, it is important to re-evaluate existing networking practices to ensure that they are not a waste of valuable time and resources. Shaking hands with someone and collecting business cards is not networking. At least not effective networking. Genuine networking practices require more attention and involvement if the goal is to actually make a connection with someone. Networking is about giving and being proactive about achieving your goals.
Believe it or not, there are still many people who have tried networking but who still don’t believe in the power of networking. Part of the reason for this is that they may not be networking effectively because they don’t know how. When people don’t believe networking is useful, it is usually a result of inefficient networking practices or a difficulty in determining where to begin. Some people are just uncomfortable with networking because they don’t know what to do and they have a hard time figuring out how to start. Maybe truly understanding what to do in a way that is manageable is the way to go. Networking is a vital aspect of business that should not be overlooked due to lack of understanding. There is a wealth of information available on the topic that can help people learn how to network properly.
The following six steps encompass the actions needed to implement the most impactful and effective strategic networking process for the best results:
- Creating your memorable message so you have just the right thing to say when someone asks “What do you do?”. If you don’t have this nailed, then you will not stand out and be remembered.
- Validating your message with your target market. Although you may think you have a great message, it may not be hitting the mark. This is not a mistake you want to make.
- Making sure you have a solid networking process in place that is a balance of making and building online AND in person connections. Don’t rely on just one method of interactions as it could minimize your effectiveness. At the same time, you need to embrace the right methods so you are interacting with your target market in the right ways. If your customers are not on Twitter, you don’t need to be either.
- Creating and maintaining an effective follow-up process. This is where many people fall short – not following up with those they meet. You are missing valuable opportunities if you don’t take the time to contact those people you network with and cultivate those connections.
- Putting a measurement system in place so that you are clear about the return you are getting from the time and money you are spending on networking. If you are not getting the return it is either because you may not be networking as effectively as you think or maybe you should be embracing another marketing tactic that may work better for your business. You could be wasting a ton of time by not understanding what is working and what isn’t.
- Setting goals. Knowing what you want to achieve is essential in any process you put in place, including networking. Before you start on any program, you should know what you are trying to achieve. This is a great way to stay motivated.
There are hundreds of free resources concerning networking available for free on the internet. The challenging aspect is being able to sort through it all to find the information that is actually useful. It can be overwhelming searching through so many web pages, especially when it is often difficult to determine what information is valid and what is not. As amazing as it is having access to so much seemingly valuable free information, it can also be a burden.
Books are also another great resource when it comes to finding information on effective networking practices. The problem with books is that technology is shifting and advancing at an unbelievable rate and it is often difficult for books to keep up. While much of the information on networking will always be relevant, the best practices at any given point will constantly be changing depending on technological advances. It is necessary, now more than ever, for businesses to focus their efforts on utilizing the most recent networking tools available.
Because of these challenges, BD-PRo has developed a toolkit that is user friendly, updated regularly and available for easy access on the internet, the BD-Pro Networking Toolkit provides the ideal solution. The toolkit takes the wealth of information on networking that is out there and boils it down to the essential components by providing a process that will address the six necessary steps to becoming a Network Pro identified above. More current than a book, easier to navigate than the internet. A new way of approaching strategic networking in an interactive and purposeful way.
By now, it is clear that the most effective way to grow your business is to reach out and make meaningful connections with others. In order for your business to thrive, you need to be sure that everything you are doing in terms of networking is the most efficient and effective way of achieving the results you want.