In business, it is often said that success is determined not by what you know but by who you know. Additionally, the level of your success is determined greatly by the quality of your relationships with others.
While for some, networking is something that comes naturally and effortlessly, for others it is an area where significant improvements are needed. Small, consistent improvements over time will open up far more opportunities and resources to you.
Whether you are a seasoned connector or someone who needs to jumpstart their relationship building, here are 25 essential tips to ensure your networking success.
1. Start before your need it
The best time to start building your network is yesterday. The second best time is today. Relationships are cultivated over time. Begin by making networking a priority now. It is a simple habit that you can start now that will pay great dividends in the future.
2. Learn about people’s goals
The best way to have an impact is to add value directly where it is most important to the other person. Find out what the people in your network are looking for and look for ways that you can help achieve them. Everyone wants to be friends with someone they know is on their side.
3. Connect people you do know
Use your networking not only to benefit yourself but also to benefit others. Connect people in your network that could provide value to one another. For example, if one of your associates is in need of a web designer and you happen to know one, connect the two people together. Your two associates benefit from the business arrangement and you benefit from the good will developed.
4. Give more than you expect to receive
If you want to build trust in your relationships, always seek to add more value to the people in your networks. When people are consistently benefiting from a relationship, it moves their desire to connect with you more. Focus on the giving and you will surely get what you want.
5. Be genuinely interested
Be sincere in your dealings with others and focus more on being interested than interesting. People love to talk about themselves and the more you understand about someone, the more you will be able to speak to them in a way that is appealing.
6. Always follow up
When making new contacts, make sure to always follow up. A quick email or phone call within 24 hours of meeting someone can lay the foundation for a fruitful relationship. It doesn’t take much effort but it can make a world of difference.
7. Know people in different worlds
Don’t focus solely on your own niche or industry. Instead, diversify and reach out to as many people as possible. Having people from a wide variety of fields in your network helps you become the master connector (#3) and provide more value.
8. Learn to listen
The skill of listening seems simple enough but in experience, it is a rare skill to find. The secret is getting out of your head. Put your complete focus on the speaker instead of thinking about what you are going to say when they are done talking. Try to really understand where they are coming from.
9. Be authentic
People crave authenticity in business. Many people are starved of it because the amount of manipulation and politics that can go in an interaction. Hold yourself to a higher standard and you will stand out from the crowd.
10. Take the initiative
Play a very active role in networking. Be the person who starts the conversation. Be quick to introduce yourself. Also, be the first person to offer help when it is required. Developing the habit of initiative will make your networking efforts easier and more fruitful.
11. Always stay in touch
The major determinant in whether or not a business relationship develops of fizzles is staying in contact. Remember to regularly check in with your associates with a quick email or phone call. Regular contact will allow the relationship to develop slowly over time.
12. Be personal
Take the extra time to add a personal touch. A handwritten card says a lot more than an email. Although this may require extra time and effort on your part, it will stand out in the eyes of others.
13. Be humble
Nothing turns people off quicker than an arrogant attitude. Humility, on the other hand, is very commendable. Being humble will keep you grounded even when your network starts to grow. When you reach the top, it will ensure that keep doing the things that got you there.
14. Always say thanks
Thank you notes are a quick and easy way to connect with someone. Plus, the actual card serves as a reminder of you every time the other person sees it.
15. Do your homework
When contacting people, make sure you are well informed about their situation. You should know, for example, if they recently released a new product or moved to a new office.
16. Express your enthusiasm
Remember that passion is magnetic. When you are excited about what you are talking about, other people will become excited as well. Your enthusiasm will give you a charismatic presence that will make your memorable.
17. Promote your purpose more than your self
When promoting to others, put the majority of your focus on the mission and purpose of your business. Although it can be fun to toot your own horn, set your ego aside and focus on the real purpose: your company’s ability to deliver value to people.
18. Join associations
Professional associations are a great way to network with people. Use the internet to research associations in your area and make sure to attend the next meeting. The people you will meet there will also be eager network.
19. Attend conferences
Conferences are a great way to meet like-minded people. The speakers can be good, but the real value is in the people. Do some internet research and find a conference you can attend in the near future.
20. Leverage the networks of others
Use the networks of others to expand your own network. Go out of your way to introduce yourself to people you have only heard of through an associate. Make this a regular habit and your network will start growing faster than you can keep up with.
21. Act with integrity
Stay true to your principles and hold them above all else. While this may lead to some short term setbacks, over the long term, it will build a lot of trust in your character.
22. Build close relationships
The closer your relationship is with someone, the more they will be willing to help you out when you need it. Unfortunately, there are no quick fix techniques for this. Close relationships take time and effort.
23. Ask for what you want
Don’t be timid or shy. Be direct and ask for what you want. There is no other way to get it. Remember: the answer to every request that you don’t make is no.
24. Create a personal board of advisors
Focus on building a team of experts that you contact quickly for advice in each of the major areas of your business. They will prove to be priceless when you have difficult business decisions to make.
25. Write things down
As your network grows, it can be difficult to keep track of all the information about your associates. Make sure your write things down and can readily access information about any one of your business contacts.