It’s about WHO you know
Firstly, you need to know who you need to know! Are you networking and randomly collecting contact details from everyone? Building a network this way is very time consuming and not very effective. Before you even step into an event know who you are looking for. Once you know who you need in your network start building your network strategically by seeking out who you need directly and indirectly by putting it out there who you are looking for. It’s not only about who you know but about who they know too.
I usually recommend five people at a time, you really can’t realistically build meaningful relationships with many more than that can you? So if you had to choose only five people to invest your time in who would they be, what would they do and why do you need them. Once you have established that make sure that you have something to offer them too, you don’t want to be a leach after all.
It’s about WHAT they know
You simply can’t be good at every area of business and certainly can’t know all there is to know either. Build a network where you can learn and glean from others. If you are weak in marketing then ensure that you have a marketing guru in your network or perhaps you are new to recruiting, ensure that you have a recruiter in your network. It’s not that you are going to use them or ask for freebies, that would be terrible! You can still learn from the right people and if/when the time comes you can employ their services based on the trust relationship you have cultivated.
On the flip side, ensure that you are available to one or two people in your network too and offer support and advice. But I would say, be selective, I would advise against giving away all your knowledge for free to everyone – it could waste a huge amount of time and kill your business in the end.
It’s about HOW well you know them
You are more likely to grow your business through a smaller network of close trusted ‘friends’ than by collecting masses of contact details but not really knowing anyone at all. Take time to really get to know your network. Learn about their hobbies, family or whatever common connection you may have with them so that when you speak to them you can offer sincere follow up. For example, “How did your son do at their recent football game, I recall you saying how nervous he was to play goalie for the first time.” It wouldn’t take much to remember such a details and would make the world of difference if you bothered to not only remember it but also follow up with it the next time you spoke.
At the Women’s Business Club we are passionate about networking, and know the importance of being an earnest connector!
We know networking works and we love to connect people. It’s all about relationships – genuine, meaningful relationships not just greeting someone and shoving a business card in their hand hoping for a sale. Of course, the results at our club speak for themselves – businesses are growing and blossoming through our network. Understanding how to network effectively is one of the most powerful tools any business owner can use.
Read more about How to build your network at www.womensbusiness.club/importance-of-being-an-earnest-connector
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