Power Networking: 5 Tips to Avoid Disaster

Power networkingPower networking builds; thoughtless networking destroys. Visibility in person and online can attract customers, supporters and affiliates. But the wrong actions or the wrong communications can at best make your efforts useless. More likely, the unknowing steps you take can damage your business and tarnish your personal reputation. Beyond the basics, networking adheres to unwritten guidelines which can set you apart, for better or worse.

Tips for Power Networking:

  • Don’t network for quantity. Network for quality. Handing out twenty cards in a crowded room is a futile exercise. Having a focused conversation with one or two people can have a far greater impact for you and your business.
  • Don’t sell before you connect. Whether in person or via email, “Hey, do I have an unbelievable deal for you!” is an immediate hatchet to your reputation. People will consider buying from you once they know you and have established a relationship.
  • Don’t take without giving. If someone might be a good referral source for you, find what you can do to reciprocate. Referrals are always valued. If you are not in a position to offer referrals immediately, you may offer information on  a new networking group or introductions to potential strategic partners from your circle of friends.
  • Don’t ambush. Set meetings with the intent of building a mutually beneficial relationship. Focus on how you can genuinely help them, before you explore how they might help you. Do not launch your sales pitch; a networking meeting is not a sales call.
  • Do not suggest, “Hey, let me buy you a cup of coffee, and let me pick your brain for a few ideas.” This is totally unprofessional. A networking contact may offer to meet and give assistance on an informal and complimentary basis. This is a gracious action, and should be appreciated. Asking for free help is not acceptable; instead, ask about and be willing to pay for assistance. In some cases, a barter might be a win for both of you.

Power networking is an art. It is the act of building genuine relationships with others in business, for mutual benefit. Smart networking is giving. The most effective networkers are those who are focused on truly helping others, without expecting return. Network to pay it forward. Look to help the other person, without expecting a return. Networking builds relationships. Build relationships, and build your business and career.

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6 Responses to Power Networking: 5 Tips to Avoid Disaster

  1. Franklin D Rivera II July 20, 2017 at 1:43 pm #

    Great article Ellen. Networking really is a skill and an art. Thank you for sharing

  2. Larry L Jones July 20, 2017 at 3:47 pm #

    Excellent article, Ellen.

  3. Keith Rakow July 23, 2017 at 5:50 pm #

    As a job seeker, I was a bit disheartened to read your harsh critique of offering to buy someone a cup of coffee in exchange for advice. I am not sure what else I could offer other than a promise to help the person in a meaningfully beneficial way in the future.

    • Ellen Huxtable
      Ellen Huxtable July 23, 2017 at 7:01 pm #

      Thank you for your comment. For your contacts, travel for a coffee meeting typically raises the total time commitment to two hours or more, of which less than half is spent in contact with you. Most people do want to help. When possible, asking to schedule a phone meeting, possibly specifying ten minutes or less, will enable more of them to be able to help. A short, focused message can be more effective than an extended discourse. If they want to know more, they can extend the phone meeting, or suggest meeting in person. After the meeting, keeping them in mind is an important way to demonstrate appreciation. On an immediate basis, a positive testimonial on LinkedIn is something you can offer which is likely to be highly appreciated. Best wishes to you in your explorations for your next job!

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