People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Companies don’t make decisions, people do. Your professional network can open doors for you and provide you with opportunities you never thought imaginable.
For better or for worse, it’s not just what you know or are capable of doing, it’s who you know, that’s important for career advancement and business development. You can learn a tremendous amount from people in your network who have experience and expertise.
Yes, networking can be a difficult and awkward process, but there are always more ways to gain when you do try rather than lose from not trying.
Here are the best business networking tips that you can start using today.
Best Networking Tips to Build Your Business and Career
After realizing the incredible importance of professional networking, I began scouring the web, Amazon, and bookstores for resources. I found there were resources on related topics, such as interpersonal communication, but not many great resources on business networking specifically.
I began asking everyone I know who has had a successful career, built a successful business, or simply knows a lot of people for their advice on how to build a professional network. I spent years practicing and testing new networking event tips and strategies, making a lot of avoidable mistakes, and meeting and building relationships with lots of awesome people.
I’ve learned a lot and decided to write a book on it to share my knowledge.
Here are 15 tips you can use to build a network.
1. Be Helpful
One of the best networking hacks and tricks is being helpful. When people in your network get stronger, you get stronger. By helping people in your network get stronger, they may be in a better position to be able to help you in the future. In addition, per the law of reciprocity, people may be more motivated to return the favor.
Share your expertise and ideas. Share information. Promote your network’s work and accomplishments. Be a connector. Business transactions are always mutually beneficial.
One person is buying a product or service because it will benefit them in some way, and one person is selling a product or service because they can profit. If you can connect two people you know who would benefit from knowing each other, you are initiating the network building process.
2. Find a Mentor
Finding a mentor is the best networking advice out there. Build a list of 3-7 people whom you’d like to be your mentor and reach out to them. Follow them, learn from them and even work for them for free.
A mentor can teach you what books can’t plus once a mentor trusts you, his or her network becomes your network.
You offer them value and they offer you experience and connections. That`s a strong relationship from which both of you can win.
3. Build a Reputation
In the world of professional networking, people prefer to build business relationships with people they see as being valuable. By building a reputation as someone who is talented, helpful, and valuable, people will be more motivated to meet you and stay in touch with you. And you’ll end up building a master network. Let people know what you’re accomplishing and learn through blogging, emails, and conversations.
4. Be Visible
If no one knows what you’re doing, it’s like it never happened. Maintain regular and consistent communication with people you want to stay in touch with. Connect via email, blogging, social media platforms, and of course, in-person.
5. Meet Lots of People!
The best way to make lucky things happen is to go outside and manufacture serendipity.
Ways to meet new people include conferences, events, meetups, and asking people you know for introductions. Reach out to people directly or get involved in personal interest groups, intramural sports leagues, classes and workshops, parties, happy hours, alumni associations, Twitter, and LinkedIn groups.
6. Trying Is Better Than Not Trying
Networking is simply reaching out to those you have no relationship with, which is scary for a lot of people.
If it frightens you, then doing it the clumsy way is better than not doing it at all (while working on upgrading your skills).
If you feel overwhelmed because you`re not that qualified or because your pitch is not extra professional, then jump into the water right away and click send or push the call button.
7. Be Intentional
Go where the people you want to meet hang out both online and offline. Interact with people and build rapport. Share valuable content and spark interesting conversations. Also, think about who else spends time with the people you want to meet and connect with them.
8. Know How to Network by Email
If you network by email, all you need is to do your homework and research your target. The best way to do that is by reading what they post or say on social media or even taking a look at their blog posts. This will help you know what they love, what they need, and what they complain about.
What you have to do is to keep tracking them until you find what I call “an effective point of entry.” That will let you grab that person’s attention or at least reduces the chances of them neglecting your email.
9. Stop Focusing On What You Want
Smart networking is mostly based on mutual benefits. I help and you help me back, and since you`re the one who wants to connect then you’re the one who must start this win-win relationship by adding value to the other person`s life.
In Maribeth Kuzmesky’s book, The Connectors: How the World′s Most Successful Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for Life, she says:
“Concentrating on others’ needs can be extremely beneficial; you can assume that almost everyone else’s focus is ‘‘What’s in it for me’’ and not vice-versa. Therefore, adopting a” What’s in it for them’’ mentality will actually allow you to stand out in a crowd.”
In other words, focusing on others will always bring you more which can take us to the second rule of smart networking.
10. Think Long-Term
Connections open doors, but relationships close deals. Networking is not just about exchanging business cards and connecting on LinkedIn. Networking is most valuable when long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships are formed. Relationships take time to build. Be patient. Stay in touch with people you like.
11. Get Rejected!
“If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough” – Chris Dixon
When you push yourself, in any area of life, you will inevitably face setbacks. In networking, you will face a lot of rejection. People will ignore your calls and email. They will decline meeting invites, and requests for introductions.
Trying and failing is much better than not trying at all. At least when you try you have a chance to succeed. Learn from your rejections and grow stronger for when it happens again.
12. Introduce People to Each Other
The best way to owe someone a favor is by simply introducing him or her to someone who can benefit them.
Assuming that you know both persons well, a simple email asking both parties if they like to be introduced to each other (while stating what’s in it for them) will set you as a “know’em all” person, and of course, both of them will pay you later if things work well.
Listening is one of the most valuable, yet commonly overlooked skills to have in networking and in business. People love to talk about themselves and appreciate it when you take a genuine interest in what they have to say.
Listening will help you to get to learn about peoples’ challenges and get to know them better, which can ultimately lead to more productive professional relationships. Ask open-ended questions, be genuinely interested, and express interest and curiosity.
You never know until you ask, and more often than you think, you will get the answer you want. Ask for introductions. Ask people you want to meet with you. Ask for advice.
15. Follow Up
Build a reputation as someone who delivers on their promises and is persistent. Follow up with people who promised to do something for you. Follow up on emails you send that get ignored. Do what you promised to do for others.
Learning how to network with people is not easy. However, if done right, it will save you time and make you money more than anything else on your busy schedule.
Leave some space on your schedule for networking. Something as simple as reaching out to one person a day can do miracles for your business. It doesn’t matter to start small, as long as you are consistent enough.
Now that you know how to do networking, which tips are you going to start using today?
Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU @soyhivan via unsplash.com