Are you getting results from the time you spend networking? I sometimes get asked by clients, before we
start working together, if networking is non-productive time; it depends on how you are doing it. If you are not getting business from (or giving business to!) your referral sources, perhaps you should consider how you are networking. Even If you get all the referrals you can handle, how will you water your referral tree if you stop networking?
Many people think the purpose for going to a business networking event is to meet potential clients. This
is no longer the case. Networking is about building trust and relationships. This is not to say you will not
meet prospects at networking events, because you very well may. However, meeting someone at a
networking event is typically the beginning of the relationship. This is the future of business networking.
If your networking is not yielding results, then ask yourself what your goals are so you can pick the
networking groups and channels that will help you get what you are looking for. Are you looking for
education, resources, making contacts with connectors, volunteering, or just looking to connect with
prospects? Can the people and resources where you are networking get you what you are looking for? Get involved. Look for events, educational programs and volunteer positions that will connect you to the
resources and people you desire. This is a great way to get to know key people, help the community you are in and stay top of mind.
Become known as a resource for others. When you are known as a strong resource, people remember to
turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. This keeps you visible to them. If you are
successfully connecting people to what they are there for, you can harness the influential power of
reciprocation. This will enable you to build your “sales team” and you can educate and help them provide you with what you are looking for.
Be ready with your elevator pitch. This includes a one sentence response to, “What do you do?” that is
compelling enough to continue the conversation with interest. Be able to clearly articulate what you do
and why, for whom, and what makes your doing it special or different from others doing the same thing.
Sometimes stories can be an effective way to do this. Be able to articulate what you are looking for and how others may help you. Too often people in conversations ask, “How may I help you,” and no immediate answer comes to mind. Ask open-ended questions that will open up the discussion and show listeners that you are interested in them.
Have a pre-planned call-to- action and follow up agenda. Follow through quickly and efficiently on
referrals you are given and referrals you offer to give. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honor that, and your referrals will grow.
Call those you meet who may benefit from what you do and vice versa. Express that you enjoyed meeting
them, qualify and ask if you could get together. In doing so you will uncover opportunities to help others and in turn, help yourself. This is the future of business networking.