To be a builder, you need to master one of the most important tools: networking.
Unfortunately, without proper care, this tool becomes neglected, rusted and starts to take the shape of socializing.
Whether you are beginning your job search, looking to advance your career, new to sales or wanting to boost your business, these five steps will help sharpen the blades and have you networking like an old pro.
Go in thinking like success to be a success. If you start to dread of fear the event, take a few minutes to change your mind set before you enter. Pump up some invigorating music in the car, dance it out in the car or watch the YouTube video of the little girl doing her positive daily affirmation on the bathroom sink in front of the mirror. Do whatever you need to do to get to a positive, happy place allowing you to feel relaxed, comfortable and confident. Your attitude will come through, so make sure you are creating an open and receptive environment. Networking is fun, darn it, have fun!
Make a Plan
Make a plan that works for you, either meeting X number of new people, reconnecting with former colleagues or meeting a specific person. Making a plan helps you keep a business perspective on the event. It also helps with that sense of accomplishment. Once you meet the desired number of people or specific person, you can check that off your list. I am a list person, I love making and more importantly – checking things off my list, so this is a good motivator for me.
Must be present to win. Attending networking events in person helps you establish your presence and your brand. It can make for more conducive and free-flowing communication. It allows you to not only hear what the other person is saying, as well as the opportunity to “listen” to their body language, which accounts for over 50% of message delivery.
Networking is about building relationships; relationships are built on trust. Allow time to build these relationships and start them off on strong footing by getting to know the other attendees. Find out who they are, what they do, what they are passionate about and how you can help them. Offering assistance rather than asking for a sale is a much more productive and respectful way to earn a person’s trust and time.
As stated above, trust is s foundation of relationships. If asking for a sale does not sink your ship, not following up with what you say you will do certainly will. It conveys many messages, none of which are good for furthering your career or building your business. It can suggest that you do not respect their time, that you are not serious about business, that you are too overwhelmed to take on anything new.
Networking is a powerful tool for your career or business. It should be a tool that is fun to use in order to get the most out of it. It gives you the opportunity to meet new people who are passionate about what they do, form strong alliances and share your passion with others.
Just as personal networking can transition from actual networking to mere socializing, so too can networking events. If you find that an event or group that you regularly attend has made this shift, do not feel bad about looking at a new store.
As you grow in your career and as your business grows it is natural that your needs change. What may have started out as a great launching place for your networking may now seem like a weekly wine and cheese/beer and pizza gab fest.
Remember, this is about business. Continue to attend if you enjoy the company of those in attendance; but do find another networking outlet in addition to this event in order to keep your networking skills sharp and continue to grow your network.
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Brand Strategist & Career Coach
Certified Professional Resume Writer