Your network is one of your most valuable resources. And yet it is overlooked by most people. Networking skills are essential in today’s business environment. For me, the value of a network can be summed up in the following quote:
“It’s not who you know, but who knows you!”
Here are ten tips that can help you become a more effective networker:
- Make networking an on-going activity – Look upon yourself as a full time networker, as someone who is always growing and expanding their network. Make it easy for people to find you, remember you, and connect with you. Do this and networking becomes effortless and more natural for you.
- Always add value – Become known as someone who always brings value to the conversation. When you add value or provide useful content freely, people will naturally look upon you as a valuable resource. Remember, it’s not who you know, but who knows you.
- Crosslink – Refer people in your network to other people in your network. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to connect people together. They will thank you for your efforts and will want to return the favor. This is a great strategy for strengthening your network.
- Use an elevator speech – An elevator speech is a short saying that you use when people ask what you do or what business you are in. It gets it’s name from when you get into an elevator at a conference or event and people ask you those questions. Your response has to be short, concise and roll off your tongue, because you only have perhaps 15 to 30 seconds to share it. This is something you don’t want to be “off-the-cuff.” Take time to develop yours.
- Be “on purpose” with your networking – Intention is the laser-like focus that guides you through the maze of life, including your networking efforts. You are the one who decides what what your intention is. Why are you networking? What do you want to achieve with your networking? Who will benefit the most from your networking? And so on.
- Ask powerful questions – A skill that all networkers should master is asking powerful questions. Concentrate on asking open-ended questions, such as those beginning with who, what, when, where, how, and why. These questions can yield you a lot of information. Use questions that begin with a verb only to obtain detail and clarification; only three answers available here: yes, no and maybe.
- Use a contact management system – Your contacts should be easily available to you, whether you use a Rolodex, Outlook, or some contact management software. Organize them in a manner that is meaningful to you with categories. Be sure to include information on how you know them, whether it was through a mutual friend, a networking event or similar function. Add details that you can come back to such as the name of their spouse, ages of their children, or special interests they may have.
- Follow-up – A well-known business truism is “The fortune is in the follow-up.” Many people miss out on the opportunity to follow-up and this where up to 40% of potential business is actually lost. I look at is as a responsibility and that phrase has become a mantra for me.
- Respond to your network correspondences – Have you ever sent an email and the recipient never responded? Did they get the message or did it get lost in their junk mail folder? Your response can be a simple three-step process that takes less than 10 seconds: (1) click “reply”, (2) type “thanks”, (3) click “send.” That way the sender will know you received the message. It’s a simple courtesy that builds trust.
- Be memorable – Some people are more memorable than others and you can become one of them quite easily. For example, chose something about your name that you could share that will stand out. For example, “My name is John Smith. It’s a common name, but I’m not.” or perhaps what I use, “My name is Glenn Andrew. I’m the guy with two first names.” Be creative and have fun with it.
One of the measures of your professional wealth is the size and quality of your network. Follow these tips and you will become a more effective networker. To your continuing success!
What are some of your favorite networking tips?
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