Networking Tips and Best Practices

Posted by Unlimited Exposure Online on September 12th, 2017

Creating a strong professional network from scratch is difficult for anyone, but it’s especially challenging for those who have few to no existing business relationships. Networking makes nearly anything possible. One contact leads to several others, a great event opens the door to an even better one. If you’re an amateur in the realm of networking, check out our list of pointers to improve your skills.

Don’t fake it. The illusion of perfection is exactly what it sounds like: an illusion. Make an effort to be open, honest, and genuine. Your goal should be to create and nurture healthy business relationships, not to manipulate or sell to those around you. This also means that lying is a definite no-go. Even the best of liars are revealed in time, and being labeled dishonest will almost certainly give you and your company a bad reputation. People who do business are still people. Don’t be afraid to be human.

Get rid of the toxic idea that business interactions are always some kind of transaction. Building corporate relationships is about approaching the subject of sales and collaboration gradually. Advertising your products or services to someone the first time you meet them is irritating and may be seen as inconsiderate.

There’s nothing wrong with reaching out to others over the phone or by email, but if that’s the only way you’re interacting, that’s a problem. Organize a time to meet new contacts in person, whether for a business lunch, conference, or corporate event. Direct human contact is the best way to get to know someone and earn their trust more quickly. If you’re meeting someone at an event, show up early to show your consideration and organizational skills. Punctuality is a powerful and underrated quality - use it to your advantage.

Don’t be afraid to offer things free of charge. People are always on the hunt for free products, services, and ideas, regardless of the industry they’re in. Offer your new contacts something valuable at no cost to them. For example, a complimentary business website audit if you’re in the marketing industry. Strengthen your connection with people by recording important details about them. You can bring these things up in future conversations you have with them to increase your likeability and demonstrate your communication skills.

To build upon your ability to seamlessly interact with others and achieve what you’re looking for, arrive at events with a set of specific questions you’d like to ask potential contacts. Beating around the bush is senseless when everyone around you has goals just as you do. Be polite but direct. Shortly after every event you attend, send a follow-up email to each contact you wish to stay connected to. This shows that you care about the interaction and would like to continue to communicate in a way that benefits both of you.

Instead of aiming for superiority, aim for uniqueness. It’s extremely difficult to become the best at what you do, especially when your timeframe is short. Discover how you can make yourself stand out in a crowd. It could be an unusual product, an intriguing experience, or simply a seldom-used approach to creating business relationships.

When you’ve finally gotten the hang of meeting new people, bring those people together. Oftentimes, the people you meet have similar goals and could gain something from interacting with each other. Be a connection enabler through the strategic use of emails and exchanging of contact information. Having said that, don’t tire yourself out. Racking up too many relationships is exhausting and quite literally impossible for any human to keep up with. Create a medium-sized, high-value network that you can maintain. Ensure it stays that way by completing an audit at least once a month, analyzing how much each connection is benefitting you.

Realize that it’s okay to fail. If you can get back up right after being knocked down, you’ll quickly become a better networker. Losing time and money isn’t the end of the world. Find creative ways to bounce back from the hardships you face. Resilience is one of the best qualities you as a networker can have. Playing into the same theme, never forget your origins. You’ll meet others who are at the point you were at five, ten, twenty years ago, and it’s important not to judge them unfairly before you talk to them.

Last but not least, enjoy yourself. If you’re not having a good time at any of the events you attend, you’re doing something wrong. Building a business relationship should be an enjoyable, beneficial, and ongoing experience, no matter who you are.

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Unlimited Exposure Online
Joined: July 7th, 2016
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