Technology has transformed the face of business networking. At the most elementary level, this change is meant to help us become more productive and competent.
In the networking arena, this has resulted in a surge of new tools and technologies to help us prepare well for any event. The space is primarily dominated by social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, video conferencing tools, contact management tools, card scanner apps (iOS, Android), and loads of online content on almost every aspect of networking.
With countless bits and pieces to explore and limitless information to sift through, things have become chaotic. It’s difficult to answer certain questions; Is it better to network offline or online? Is it ok to ‘friend’ any networking acquaintance? Will connecting with prospects on LinkedIn really help?
Amidst this commotion, success stories stand apart with their ability to identify innovative ways to use these tools to network.
Let us outline some creative ways to successfully navigate the networking space, whether online or offline and create a superior impression for lasting relationships.
1. Actively Seek Relationship Building Opportunities: You can simply wait to get invited, or you can search online and attend events with a sincere effort to catch up with prospects. Set aside a time frame of at least 10 hours a month to focus on relationship-building opportunities.
Make a list of relevant upcoming events, and be sure to add ones outside of your comfort zone. In fact, these events can offer you better exposure than the usual run-of-the-mill events. Start by looking up the attendees and connecting online with potential clients.
2. Make a Good Online First Impression: In this digital age, you are likely to make your first impression virtually, especially with a large millennial population. So, why not do it in a way that the prospects remember you rather than simply sending a request with a standard message.
For this, it’s important to be genuine. When connecting with people online, consider the business chemistry; until you click, you won’t be able to work together. Check their profiles, learn about them, and then connect meaningfully once you are sure that they are the right to connect with.
Begin your conversation on a positive note by conversing with people rather than about people, and don’t thrust your views. While connecting, keep their likes and dislikes in consideration. At the same time, don’t lose sight of your day-to-day networking opportunities.
3. Connect in an Unconventional Set-up: You should definitely meet up at formal events, but why not network while pursuing your personal interests. A good way can be to network with colleagues at your country club, golf course, or at a gym.
This casual setup helps to foster better relationships. People in a relaxed, social setting are normally more open to conversation and it becomes easy to build a rapport and exchange information. This can help you expand your current network and connect with more people, or figure out the major networking hubs in your city you might not be a part of.
4. Spot Popular Networking Zones: Typically, there are a few popular hubs in every big city where PR people, state workers or professional groups like to go and network.
You can do some research, find prospects or referral sources that come regularly, and then simply go there with a friend, grab a drink and strike a conversation with the person sitting near to you. Focus on building a rapport and offer genuine help, if possible.
This increases the chances of successfully expanding your relevant client database and getting hold of valuable referrals.
5. Obtain Referrals: It’s important to seek good referrals. However, keep in mind that this is a two-way road. You must also be giving referrals, and when you do, do it selectively and ensure sound referrals. You can bet creative here by setting up a get-together and helping people link up, offering both a win-win deal. The gesture is, as a rule, reciprocated.
It’s all about establishing a basic support system for your business to grow, and good referrals work a long way. If you are able to build a circle of influence and support, your efforts will go much further.
In a nutshell, networking does not simply mean attending standard events, meeting people and exchanging contact information and throwing your name out in the hope of being remembered. It’s all about strategically creating and utilizing opportunities to widen your network and establish a support system based on meaningful connections. So, don’t leave networking to chance or simply wait for the opportunities to arrive. Seek out or craft innovative approaches to socialize and connect with like-minded prospects. Spot illustrious networking centers in your city, and obtain and generate useful referrals to convert potential prospects into paying customers. Happy Networking!!