Networking, in a nutshell, is the process of meeting people to improve your career in some way. It doesn’t have to be all business cards and small talk. Networking can happen anywhere in a variety of ways.
For example, I would often meet people in the run clubs I was a part of. Not everyone you meet will benefit your career, and that’s fine. What matters is the ones who will end up liking and trusting you.
Meeting people is the easy part. Even if you don’t like meeting new people, there are actually a lot of ways to meet people in a way that works for you. For example, check out my article on Business Networking From Your Home.
However, if you’re interested in meeting the widest variety of people, it’s time to attend some events! I highly recommend asking people you already know and trust what events they recommend. That’s how I’ve found my highest quality events over the years.
Beyond that, check out online resources like Facebook Events, Eventbrite, and Meetup for business events in your area.
No matter how you plan on networking, be sure to follow the Golden Rule of Networking. Always give in order to get!
Once you meet people, it’s time to gain their trust. No one will hire you or refer business to you if they don’t trust you. You start by following up right away. I always send an email follow up that evening or the next day. Broadly speaking, I say it was nice to meet them and that I’d love to have a more personal meeting in the near future to learn more about them. This is the One on One Coffee Meeting. Obviously, it does not have to be over coffee.
Following up isn’t the only thing you do to gain trust. In all things, it’s important to be honest and sincere. Most people have a pretty easy time telling if someone is insincere. We have a repulsion to it. On the other hand, sincerity is attractive.
Some scenarios have built in trust. For example, when you meet someone in an organization you’re both members of, there’s already some trust there. Additionally, if you meet someone while you’re doing something helpful or good for others, there’s trust. Volunteering, if done sincerely, is one of those scenarios.
Finally, if you’re introduced to a person through a mutual connection, you get some of the trust the new connection had towards the old. That’s why referrals and mutual connections are so important in the networking game!
Building a Relationship
Meeting someone once opens the door, but real relationships take time. Different people require different levels of attention. For example, your relationship with your spouse probably requires a lot more attention than the relationship with your tax preparer.
The goal is to know the person you’re building a relationship with and finding ways to stay on top of their mind. For me, my favorite way to stay top of mind is by making regular introductions to people in my network. Whenever I meet new people, I scan my network to see if there’s anyone else who might benefit from knowing this person.
You can also schedule regular meetings with people over coffee or a meal. I have one colleague who loves to send pertinent news articles to her connections. Since she stays on top of the news better than I do, this is greatly appreciated.
If you do all these things, and the people in your network know what you do, you’ll get a steady trickle of business from them through referrals or direct requests. The beautiful thing about networking is it grows as your network grows and those in it become more successful.
Networking in a Nutshell
That’s networking in a nutshell! We have a series of articles on Networking that I highly recommend checking out if you want to maximize your networking results.
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