There’s no life without networking today, be it personal or professional, and if you are living outside the world of networking, you are missing out on a lot of opportunities! Networking in your personal life is essential to build an image of yourself and impact the society we live in – the same goes for your business life. Networking in business is the key to establishing a strong presence in the business community by providing real and authentic information about the company and maintaining its everlasting presence.
Though the task of networking can be cumbersome and challenging, with expertise and experience, you can mold it into an effortless and straightforward process. The central aspect of networking is that it starts right away, and you must make an effort to continue it. So let’s quickly run through a critical step of business networking by asking the following questions before you start networking to evaluate your objectives:
One of the most common mistakes people make in business networking is assuming that it only involves communication with the internal and external stakeholders; however, it is an uninterrupted relationship with pre-specified goals and objectives, as a well-planned strategy helps in making an accurate pitch. Hence, before you start the networking process, identifying its purpose and goals is mandatory.
Identify your target audience and also the person responsible for direct networking on behalf of your organization. Identifying your audience plays a vital role in business networking success, as an incorrect identification fails the whole idea of networking. Also, a conscious decision for appointing personnel with relevant expertise and academic knowledge is significant for an organization’s successful networking.
The selection of the means for business networking plays a vital role in serving its purpose since a product manufacturer would opt for an entirely different venue to network than an entertainment company! Hence, choosing an appropriate mode of networking with best practices will bear better fruits in return.
Once you’ve gone through the exercise to identify your goals, it’s time to get out there and do it, so you’ll want to keep some essential concepts in mind. Below are some helpful tips that will help you accomplish your objectives.
1. Selling Versus Bonding
Networking shouldn’t focus on selling as that part will evolve out of the relationship you establish, so make sure you build a meaningful connection with whomever you are networking with.
2. Stick to Business Mostly
You need to maintain a delicate balance when networking to maintain professionalism while creating a bond that will help you understand the other person. Develop the art of glibness so that you can gently exchange basic personal information while not asking nor divulging extremely personal information that may come back to bite you.
3. Choose Quality Over Quantity
It is always the quality and credibility of the relationship which brings success and not the number of contacts you have. So, the next time you’re on LinkedIn or at a networking event, be open-minded but also selective about who you choose to make a genuine connection with.
4. Keep Your Cup Full, but Not Overflowing
Ensure you are mindful of your conversation to ensure that you exchange quality information and avoid automatically filling in momentary silences with information that is even more awkward than the silence you mean to thwart. If you find yourself nervously filling gaps in conversation, develop smooth ways to politely excuse yourself like a simple, “It’s been great talking with you. I think I’m going to go make my rounds,” and then go introduce yourself to more potential connections. Keep in mind that in a networking environment, this is perfectly acceptable and encouraged.
5. Be Assertive, But Be Patient
In our on-demand world, we have to remember that it takes time to build quality relationships. If you’re patient in establishing a long-term relationship, then you will reap the rewards long-term; however, if you unnecessarily pressure the other person, you may also find they will keep their distance from you. While you shouldn’t wait forever to discuss your value proposition for them, make sure you have adequately established your relationship with them first and be willing to take a step back if you discover it’s too soon.