7 ½ Secrets to Networking Success Revealed
Networking is a key part of building community and business success. If it isn’t already a fundamental part of your Marketing and Success Plan: ADD IT!
Now-a-days there are two primary ways to network: online and in person. Commit time to both and let your efforts be driven by an intention to connect and build rapport. Remember: The quality of your network depends on the quality of your connections—that, by the way, is the second half of secret #1, and the most valuable of the secrets.
Alrighty then, let’s get on with the rest of those secrets . . .
- Serve: People who show-up at networking events with a desire to connect and serve, build higher quality networks. So, if you want to get the most out of your networking efforts, don’t ask for anything until you have given first, and remember: networking is, first and foremost, a social experience . . . forget that you’re “networking” and connecting will be easier.
- Have a Networking Plan: Networking can be intimidating. You can make it easier by having a networking plan. Go over your introduction so you know what you are going to say when it comes time to introduce yourself. Write down a few questions that you can ask to start conversations. Start with simple questions such as: name and hometown? If it feels right you can ask about children, too. When you ask about someone’s business, show genuine interest. After they have shared the preliminaries you can ask how they got into their field, what they like most about it, who their strategic partners are . . . and so forth.
- Show Up: I’ve heard it said that 90% of success is Showing Up. In the context of networking that means just showing up will get you exposure; just showing up provides the opportunity for you to refine your networking process; just showing up will earn you credibility, etc.
- Build a Network Not a List: There are two basic ways to network: You can either go to a networking event to “work the room” and build your list or you can go with an intention to build relationships. The former might get you more business cards but the latter will get you a better quality connection . . . and possibly a new client or referral. It’s the people we build rapport and relationships with that end up “playing” with us and referring their friends.
- Consistency: Statistics say that most people need to be exposed to something 4-7 times before they will act. Translated to networking, that means that you are going to have to be seen at least 4-times before the average person will consider trying your product or services. Additionally, the more consistent you are about networking the more recognition you get. The more recognition you get the more professionalism people attach to you. The more professionalism you have the more people will trust you . . . and did I mention that TRUST is critical in conversion.
- Follow-Up: Have a follow-up plan in place. It can be as simple as an email template with a call to action —a free report or an invitation to visit your blog. Follow the email up with a simple, “Hello, it was nice meeting you. How can we help each other to even greater success,” phone call. Don’t wait for them to call you. Call them. If you have sent an email you can place the phone-call 3 to 4 days later. If not, call within 2 days of the event. . . . A tip: if you are not calling to get a client, make a sale or some other form of immediate cash conversion the call is easier to make. So, follow-up with some sort of “free sample” offer that’s even better than the one offered in your email. It can be a free consultation, a free assessment, a free ticket to a mini or “sampler” workshop where you can show your value and sell them “seamlessly” into a larger package.
- Enjoy yourself!
There you have it: the Alchemist’s Secret Potion to Networking Success. Networking opportunities are, or can be made, available in any town from local chambers to Meetup Groups. There are fee based groups and free groups. There are women only groups, casual groups, professional groups, corporate groups, etc. If one doesn’t exist that fits your style or needs, start one—it’s a good way to set yourself up as a leader in your community.