3 Habits of Successful Networkers
A couple months ago, I attended a chamber of commerce event with Beth Bridges, author of the book Networking on Purpose: A Five-Part Success Plan to Build a Powerful & Profitable Business Network. Bridges shared three networking habits that will help build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. I found the information so valuable because, as I’m sure almost everyone who has attended a networking event can attest, some people just don’t network well. Some pass out business cards to everyone they meet without taking the time to have a conversation. Others spend all their time trying to sell or chatting up people they already know. Whatever the issue, bad networking can make the activity seem insincere. But done right, the time you spend attending networking events can actually be worthwhile. Check out these three habits of successful networkers.
Habit #1: Think Long-Term
Networking is not about making sales, it’s about building relationships. As such, it takes time to build a network and see results from it. Don’t expect to attend one event, hand out dozens of business cards, and have people clamoring for your products and services.
The longer you work at networking, the more relationships you build and the more sales you’ll make, but if you go into an event with the intention of making sales, you’ll be disappointed. Instead, focus on building relationships. Relax, have fun, meet people. Eventually, you will feel like things start falling into place and it’s because the long-term process of putting in a small amount of effort is finally paying off.
Habit #2: Have a Plan
Show up at a networking event without a plan is like starting a home remodel without a plan. You may eventually get the results you want, but it will take a lot longer, and involve a lot of wasted time, effort and energy because you didn’t take a few moments to plan your strategy before you started.
Be specific and intentional when you attend events. Don’t attend just any event – go where you can find like-minded people who are there to build relationships, too. Set a goal to meet a specific number of people. At an hour-long event, you should meet 10 to 15 new people. That number may sound impossible for introverts, but it’s doable, especially if you ask the organizer to introduce you or take a friend who is an extrovert.
If you’re not a natural conversationalist, have a plan for making conversation beyond the weather. Bridges recommends playing the “in common game” by asking questions to figure out what you have in common.
Habit #3: Focus on the Follow-Through
Don’t just follow up, follow through. Lots of people follow up. That might be a call or an email that sounds something like “Hi Sam! This is Deanna. We met at the chamber mixer last week. I just wanted to follow up and say it was great to meet you. If you ever need anything, please feel free to reach out!” A follow up is nice, but it doesn’t stand out from every other contact you made at the event.
A follow-through, on the other hand, will help you stand out from the rest. It is the act of continuing a plan to its completion. A follow through message might sound like, “Hi Sam! This is Deanna. We met at the chamber mixer last week, and I mentioned my friend Kelly is looking to hire someone like you. I spoke to Kelly, and she’s interested in meeting you. Do you have some time to meet for lunch next week?” It’s easy to see which message would get the fastest reply.
You’ll notice in the example above, I was helping someone else get what they need, not seeking a sale for my own business. Giving value is critical. When you give ideas, information, resources, etc., you will start getting in return. As Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything you want if you can help enough people get what they want.”
Incorporating these habits into your networking will make meeting new people and building relationships second nature to you. The main point is that relationships are how you grow your business. When you are able to turn connections into lasting relationships, networking can be extremely rewarding and powerful.
As a Solutions Advisor for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Deanna Perkins works to help clients and prospective clients identify their dangers, opportunities and strengths. Once these are identified, she works to develop a personalized game plan for their firm to focus on the area, or areas, they need to improve on most. These areas are critical to a firm’s success and future-readiness; Leadership, Talent, Technology, Process and Growth.