Whether networking online or at an event, there are three things I find to be the key to success. While simplistic, we can often tend to disregard them and then wonder why our networking efforts are not working. When I developed my contracting business, these three points are what made me go from a zero-dollar revenue business to a six figure business in less than six months.
1. Be Authentic
We have somehow been trained that our mindset for business is different than our mindset for our personal life. There is nothing less accurate than that. Our personal life reflects our professional, just as our professional reflects our personal. Religion, politics, sports, ethnicity, culture, gender, etc., are all things we are and believe which ultimately defines who we are. In networking others see some of those due to its’ obviousness, however some are not so obvious. When we are authentic, we provide a solid foundation for relationship within networking circles.
Sometimes being authentic can be difficult. We all have some sort of skeletons in the closet. Whether it be a failed business or a poor customer service or something else, we all have something and while I don’t recommend initiating a conversion on that topic, I do endorse it not have to be so back in the closet. We learned something from it and that is what counts. Anyone who judges you for it is probably not a great referral source anyways.
2. Be Invested
I cannot count the times that people will go to networking events or be part of groups and not be invested. Every time I sense I cannot invest myself into the network, I simply step down or out. I rather be transparent and confess that I can’t invest my time there accurately than wing it and hinder everyone else.
Let’s be real, stuff happens. Our work load becomes overwhelming, or our travel is too much, or whatever the case may be that we just can’t invest our time there anymore. We need to be responsible and allow the group to decide how to proceed. When you can’t be invested but still try to make believe you are, you are not being authentic and eventually it will send the message that you don’t care about the group.
3. Be Giving
While the goal of networking is to grow your business or pipeline, it is key to understand this point. Always be looking for a way to give rather than looking for a way to receive. You reap what you sow. I have built a strong and expansive network in my short few years networking. What this has allowed me to do is to connect people that are looking to be connected, but just haven’t been able to.
This creates value for them which in return has added value to me. Now don’t get me wrong, the intention here is not to get anything back. The intention here is to help others grow their business or pipeline. It is just common that in gratitude those connections will be likely to support you and help you however they can.
As simple as these steps seem to be, it is actually true. If you focus on these three things, you can be extremely successful in networking. Also, a personal tip is thinking outside the box. This isn’t a point above because it is not necessary to succeed in networking. An example of that is I labeled myself as the “Gentleman Contractor” for networking and wore a business casual suit to events. It allowed me to be memorable, while providing credibility. The other way I think outside the box is through conversation. Here are a couple of topics I use when I network and need to initiate conversations. These are outside the typical “What do you do” or “Who are you with?”
• How did you hear about this event/group/etc.?
This question opens the door for some other sources you may not be aware of, while providing credibility to the other person for how they got there.
• Do you network a lot?
This question provides a door to explore other opportunities for you or the other person. There may be networks you can invite them to or ask about networks they know about.
• What is a good referral source for you?
We can become very narrow in our thinking in terms networking. We often think that who we network with is who we want to buy. I have found it much more valuable to refer referral sources than actual referrals. As a contractor, realtors where amazing referral sources, but difficult to get connected with. An introduction from a friend was extremely valuable. It provided a credible way to have a conversation.
I hope you enjoyed this article. For more article please feel free to visit my page: GabrielGutierrez.info. Also feel free to write me an email if you have any questions you would like me to write about.