I have been networking on a regular basis for almost 4 years. I am a member of a networking organisation that meets weekly, and I have been to and been a member of a lot of different networking groups.
Over the years of networking I have learnt a lot. I’ve learnt lot about people, and how to connect with them, I’ve learnt what my strengths are and how to use them, and how to deal with my weaknesses.
A high percentage of our business at Evoke Visual Creations comes from networking, and I would say that I am a successful networker.
I would like to share my Top 10 Tips for successful networking, to help you get the most out of your networking investment – being time and money.
- Be Prepared
If you know me personally you know I like to be organised and prepared in all that I do, I feel this helps me get the most out of my time.
If you know you are going to get a chance to stand up and talk about your business, have something prepared, even if it’s just in your head.
Have a goal for the event you are attending or even for your membership for the organisation, how else will know if you are getting a return on investment?
Have your business cards ready to connect with others, perhaps there is a “buzz table” where you can place your promotional material – take advantage of it.
Being prepared shows a lot about how you and how you work, it communicates a high level of professionalism.
You have two ears and one mouth, use them proportionally. Actually make the effort to listen to the people you are engaging with, ask questions to show you are listening, and be genuinely interested in them, they will appreciate it more than you realise.
Following up is the number one trait of successful networkers.
Follow up on people you connect with and work on building that relationship outside the meeting. Who knows where it will lead. If you feel like you connected with someone, chances are they will feel the same about you.
Neglecting to follow up with new contacts is one of the biggest mistakes people make with their networking. Not following up turns all your hard effort during the networking event into a waste of time.
- Be Respectful
Respect other people and be mindful of their time – time is our most precious resource. Don’t be late to a meeting, this is a bad reflection on you and how you will work. It seems like you don’t value them and their time.
Also, at an event don’t keep someone with you for too long – allow them to talk to others and network around the room.
- It’s not about you – it never is
Don’t spend the whole time talking about yourself, it’s not about you. If you pay special attention to your networking partner, make it about them and give to them first, it will come back to you. I promise.
- Show you are Committed
Do what you say you will do. Be on time. If you say you will be at an event, be there. If you say you will stay in touch, if you say you will send them an article or put them in touch with a contact of yours.. do it! Again, this is a reflection on how you!
- Be Generous
Be generous with the information, advice and tips you share. I practice an attitude of abundance, which means I happily share things I have learnt and tips in regards to design and branding.
In the end it shows the kind of person you are, and that you are an expert in your industry.
- Be Mindful of time wasters
Some people just take, and take, and take… I don’t know if you have ever left a meeting with someone, and you’ve felt drained? They think it is all about them, they have sucked the live out of you! These are the people I don’t give time to anymore.
- Trust Yourself
I have really learnt to trust my instincts. You know that horrible gut feeling you get about someone or something? I have ignored that in the past and it’s got me in trouble.
If you feel odd about something or someone, trust that feeling, trust yourself.
- Add Value
Everything you do and say, ask yourself, “is this adding any value? Or am I telling a stupid story about something totally irrelevant?” You don’t want to be remembered as that person who blabbered on about what they did on the weekend. If you are going to engage in a conversation and share, make it meaningful to your networking partner.
Practice these 10 tips for successful business networking and you will get more out of your networking investment. It will take time, but I guarantee it will be worth it.