Be a Networking Power Player
Are you maximizing your networking ROI? Are you getting the best return on investment for the time, effort and money spent in making contacts? Consider the following tips.
- Ask, listen, and then talk. Networking is building connections. Look for commonalities you share with people you meet. You may have mutual business acquaintances or be in complimentary industries, but look beyond. Are you both golfers, or Cubs fans? Do you both have dogs, or have kids in martial arts? Ask questions and explore areas of mutual interest. A fellow marching band fan is far more memorable than the third banker you’ve met that day.
- Be confident. Starting conversations with total strangers can be intimidating. Be confident. People at networking events are there to meet you. Make them happy. Approach them, look them in the eye, hold out your hand, smile and introduce yourself. They will smile and shake your hand. It’s instinctive. They can’t help themselves. In fact, they will be grateful that you took the initiative. Hanging around the periphery, or wandering decisively but avoiding people is a waste of an opportunity. Confidence is impressive. Use it.
- Look for opportunities to help. How can you help the other person? This does not mean “What can you sell them.” It means, “What can you give them that is of genuine value?” If they are looking for a power partner, or a resource, do you know someone who fills the bill? Do you know of events that may be useful to them? Offer to connect them to others, but only if both parties will welcome the introduction. Everyone can technically use a banker, but if you introduce your whole address book to a banker, you probably have offended all your contacts and only created resentment toward the banker and yourself.
Networking is building genuine connections based on commonalities. Networking is a marathon, not a sprint. Be patient, be consistent. Give of your time and interest to others, and maximize your networking ROI.