Have you ever heard someone say, "I tried networking, but it did not work"?
You may even have said it yourself!
Many people are advised to try networking when they want to find new business and that may be the root of the problem for someone who says it did not work. They try it with that idea in mind and as a result may be sending out all the wrong signals. Along with the advice to try networking they were probably told it is not about finding business directly. It is about relationships, selling through the room etc, etc. They then attend an event and get invited to pitch either to a group or to everyone who asks, "What do you do?".
For someone with no experience of networking this is all very confusing and, unintentionally, they probably sound as if they are trying to sell (however softly) and that puts people off. It is not surprising when their reaction is that the whole thing does not work.
The best thing is to invite people to think about it differently in the first place. At NRG we believe that you need to build a network to be able to deliver what you do, to support you, and to uncover the business opportunities that suit you. If you start with that premise then the way you go about your networking will subtly change and that change will deliver results.
So the next time someone asks for some advice on networking please share these tips with them.
1. Networking is about making friends in business. Friends help and support each other.
2. The right mindset is 'We thinking' and not 'I thinking'. What can we do together?
3. Even if you are networking for business you are not selling to people directly. Your pitch needs to be around how you can help each others contacts with their problems.
4. It is also about support. It can be lonely in business and it is great to have likeminded people to share the ups and downs with.
5. Your Network is your biggest asset. Take care to nurture the connections you make and the friendships you have made along the way.
6. Manage who is in your Network. You only have the capacity for a finite number of relationships. There are those you interact with all of the time. Some you just need to maintain the relationships and some you are getting to know. There will be people you do not want in your Network too.
7. Find where to meet the right people. It is really time efficient to regularly attend groups and events with the people in your Network and the ones you are looking to add.
8. Have a keep in touch strategy. Once you identify who is in your network then work out how best to regularly keep in touch. You may want to invest in some software to help.
9. The real value in your Network comes from building trust. This is your investment in Social Capital.
10. Become an Advocate for others. Freely connect other people and ideas and you will attract others who will follow your example and do the same for you and others.
Let me know how you get on.