Network, network, network – we’ve all heard it countless times when it comes to how to grow your business. It’s not what you know, but who you know.
But there’s more to it than just collecting business cards – you have to know how to do right, skillfully. Ivan Misner, Ph.D., author of “Networking Like a Pro” shares some of his tips for networking to open doors to help you land new clients and find talent for future hiring. He shares how to land on someone’s radar, and stay there.
Secret Tip #1: Give Before You Receive
Keith Ferrazzi, author of “Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time”, emphasizes – “if you want to form a relationship with another person, you first need to show them how they’ll benefit”. Bring a small gift, a token of generosity when you meet. Something like an article of relevance.
Think of networking like a bank account – you have to make deposits and secure social capital before making withdrawals. Make a withdrawal when you feel the ground underneath is solid and secure.
Secret Tip #2: Ask for a Strategic Introduction
Do a little background sleuthing on the person you hope to connect with, via social media. See who you know that knows them, works in the some industry or company even.
Ask a third party to make an introduction at an upcoming event, or endorse you to the person when they have an opportunity. Explain why you want to connect and would like additional credibility from your contact.
Secret Tip #3: Don’t Just Collect Cards
Instead of casting a wide net, get your fishing pole out and direct it toward growing deep personal connections. Misner says, “….I’m a firm believer in doing six things a thousand times, not a thousand things six times.”
Focus on ranking the strength of current relationships and and ones you want to grow, Home in on working those relationships to achieve your goals.
Sercret Tip #4: Follow Up – and Then Follow Up Again
Frequency and depth of your interaction depends on the strength of relationship. Following an initial meeting you may jot down a ranking of their potential to help grow your business. Also make note of highlights if your conversation such as upcoming trips they have, kids names and interests. The next day email and reference something from the notes. Keep a schedule for tracking when you keep in touch. Either by number of people to reach or amount of time spent calling/emailing each week.
Power Tip #5 : Suss Out Your Contacts
Do your homework before meeting someone so you discover interests or charities they support, showing sincere interest in the other person.
Strike up the conversation with asking them to tell you more about one of those things. Watch them jump at the opportunity to share. Then offer any support or tips you have in that area.
Power Tip #6: Deepen Your Network Pool
Look for relationships with totally different people who can make intros to entirely new social circles. “We tend to hang out with people like ourselves…but diversity is key to growing a strong personal network” says Misner
Don’t rule out “networking down” – sharp junior people in your industry and circles may just have the connection you need.
Power Tip #7: Don’t Overly Pimp Your Profile
When using LinkedIn be selective with your acceptance of connection requests. Your connections are a reflection on you. Complete strangers should be avoided until a third party reaches out regarding them. Likewise, you should only ask for a connection from someone yiu have a common connection with already. Otherwise, use a more personal way such as a letter or direct email.
Power Tip #8 Seek Common Ground
It’s a pretty obvious and quick way to start a new relationship. Find what you and the other person have in common. Something that makes you similar.
Ask the right questions to help you find that similarity. Let them talk about themselves. Then it’s your turn to share. Think of something unique about yourself when in you’re in a larger setting. Something that a just a few people may have in common with you- create that sense of specialness between you.