“If you’re not networking, you’re not working.”
Networking usually takes care of itself, once you get the ball rolling. You just have to strike up a conversation with someone, whether online or off. It’s much more difficult when you attempt to promote yourself at the beginning of a conversation, or cold.
Just start chatting, and inevitably it will come up what you do. As you get to know more people and maintain and grow those relationships, your circle expands exponentially. As you do business with your new contacts, your business will grow exponentially, especially if you leverage the Internet.
Over 50% of my business comes from people I know. Especially when starting a business, this is your bread and butter.
Top 5 Networking Tips
- Set Goals – How many people do you want to meet, and have a connection with. It’s not just how many you meet, but it’s more about developing relationships with your contacts.
- Make Time – we’re all busy, but if you don’t take time to meet and get interested in others, you’ll end up having to do everything by yourself. Linger in public, as a mentor says.
- Be a good listener – Ask questions, and take a genuine interest in others. You’ll hear people’s needs and better serve them. “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you,” says Dale Carnege in How to Win Friends and Influence People
- Be persistant – If you feel like someone is the perfect connection, stay on them. Hang around their house and offer to drive their kids to school. Just kidding, moreso, there’s no law against following up again with a non-returned call. Folks are busy, but most people will brake for persistence and ambition.
- Last but not least, USE THE INTERNET – Sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are phenomenal for not only meeting new contacts, but keeping and improving existing relations. If you haven’t yet, join Linkedin and leverage the power of their Groups.
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For those of you who like to go against the grain, there’s a book called “Networking is Not Working” – Stop Collecting Business Cards and make Meaningful Connections, by Derek Coburn. Derek realized that the answer to making more connections was right in front him, existing clients. He though instead of spending all his time and money attracting strangers, why not find ways to help his existing clients grow their business.
“So why was I networking? It started with the desire to build my client base and generate more business. Then it graduated to wanting to replicate the mutually rewarding relationships I had developed naturally. When I began using my connections to benefit my clients, with the intention of becoming more of a resource than a vendor or service provider, I discovered I could accomplish all of those things in a more meaningful and lasting way. I would now network in order to provide solutions and add more value for my existing clients.”