Networking is more crucial than ever as it helps you grow your business through your personal and professional associations with other people and their businesses. By putting a face to your business, you stand out against the competition, as well as establish and maintain a good presence in the community, which are all essential to the successful marketing of your business.
To put simple, networking is important because knowing the right people can take you places that you might not reach otherwise. In order to build up your network for business, it is vital that you reach out to as many people as possible. Remember that the basic factor to networking is meeting people, and establishing a relationship with them. The more people you know, the more you can improve your chances of growing your business. Below are helpful ideas on how to network effectively.
Let the world know about you
Remember that when it comes to networking, you will need to take the first step and not wait for people come to you. You won’t be able to link to other people if you don’t put yourself out there and be visible. If people don’t know who you are, you can’t begin to establish those important relationships which can help you expand the name of your business in the field.
Even if the people you meet have more experience than you, you should not feel any inferior to them. Be proud of your own accomplishments and realize that you deserve the opportunity to mingle and learn from them. Because as much as you have to gain from their knowledge and connections, you have plenty to share too. This exchange of ideas, experiences, and contacts are the most important elements of networking, because learning from people who are in the same field are real-life experiences worth taking.
Cultivate real, solid relationships
The key to successful business networking is to remember that you’re working on creating real, deep, and lasting relationships with your professional networks. They should know who you are and what you do, know that you’re good at it, and trust you enough that they will be willing to do business with you.
Your network won’t do you any good if it’s full of people who you don’t know very well. Do not connect with people only for the sake of networking. Trust is vital; you have to cultivate depth and width in your relationships with your contacts before you can ask anything from them or expect them to send you business. It normally takes time for people to be confident in building a relationship with you that will be beneficial for both sides.
Develop networking relationships by approaching your new associates as you would any other relationship. You have to invest your time and learn about the other individual. Try to connect with them on different levels other than business. People bond over the same areas of interest, regardless of what they are. When you start to care about one another’s interests, you’ve established a solid professional relationship.
Remember that you’re really creating long-lasting relationships, not trying to get something out of someone. Never, ever ask for a favors from people you’ve just come to know, until you are sure that you have established a relationship with them. Networking is ultimately about connecting with people, but remember to be sincere with your attempts to network, and really use it as a way to get to know people; the positive results will come naturally.
Diversify your contacts
Having a diverse network is just as valuable as having a large network. Your exposure to new business opportunities will stay limited if you do not even bother to go beyond the same close circle. It is a good idea to not only surround yourself with like-minded people, but also explore others who may be able to bring new contacts who can be of importance to you. Learn to reach out and be open to those people who will be able to help you in different, and perhaps, better ways . If you remain in the same pool of people who already know each other, it may be difficult to bring into your existing network the new people and associates with whom you can do business with, or those who can get you in touch with associates you never would have never thought of meeting otherwise.
There’s a world of opportunity out there. You may be well connected within a certain network, but there are plenty of other networks all around. You need other people whose interests span multiple networks. If you get them into your network, you will have links into new networks with people with different interests and contacts.
Keep in touch
Your network will be useless if you don’t preserve it. You have to constantly reach out. With the technology today, especially with the popularity of social media, there is no excuse to not keep in touch. You can also utilize traditional mails, notes, business events, seminars, etc in order to maintain contact and carry on business with them.
If you do not want the trouble of re-igniting the relationship again after a long stale state, don’t lose touch in the first place. Always be working at conserving your network. Remember that once contact is made, it is crucial to continue and stay in touch with the people you meet through networking.
Just exchanging business cards is not enough to say that you have networked; you must get to know the other individual on a much more personal level. You also have to make sure you continue to stay in touch with those you meet. Networking is only beneficial if it is long-lasting and endures beyond the first contact. Don’t hesitate to rekindle the relationship if it’s been a long time that you haven’t connected.
Be thankful and give back as much as you can
Remember to be grateful and helpful to others you have benefited from through networking. Successful networking is not about simply getting what you want from the other person. It’s also making sure that the people who are associated with you would also get the help that they need.
You must show your appreciation of those you meet through networking, especially those who have assisted you or your company, by always paying it forward. It’s easy to forget when you’re not in need of something from them; remember that networking is a permanent give-and-take; showing your appreciation will be remembered and rewarded.
About the author
Ally is part of the team that manages Australian Credit Cards, a free low interest credit cards service in Australia. Before joining ACC, she was a Media Planner with McCann Worldgroup Philippines, Inc., with award-winning executions, including the Levi’s 501 “Live Unbuttoned” global campaign.
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