The Three Essentials of Networking
Does the term “networking” make you think of cocktail parties where everyone is giving their elevator pitch and shoving business cards into your hand? If so, I understand. Many people feel this way, and that makes a lot of business owners not want to network at all!
If this was the only way networking operated, I wouldn’t do it either. But the reality is that networking can be done naturally. It can be done in a way that builds relationships. It can be done in a way that truly cares about the other person.
Here are the three essentials of networking.
This is the type that makes most people shudder. However, it is possible to network without being fake.
Here are some tips that will help you get the most out of your business networking.
Set Goals. What are you hoping to get out of the networking meeting or event? Are you hoping to connect with five new people? Make sure your goals aren’t just about your business but are about building real relationships.
Ask Open-Ended Questions. When you ask yes-or- no style questions, you shut down the conversation before you even start. Instead, ask open-ended questions and truly listen to the answers.
Know the Value You Provide. Knowing the value you provide to your customers will help you answer the inevitable question, “So what do you do?” Instead of giving an ad pitch or just saying “I’m an insurance agent,” give an answer that explains what you really help people achieve.
Focus on Being a Resource. The most powerful person in the room isn’t the one that has the most money or fame. The most powerful person in the room is the one with the most helpful connections. Become that person!
Business networking isn’t just about building your business, it can also be about building your career.You can network with influencers in your industry or company, be helpful, and learn from them.
Business networking doesn’t just happen at designated networking events. You can use these tips to build relationships that are helpful to your business or career no matter who you meet and where you meet them!
While business networking is about growing your business or career upward, peer networking is about meeting and connecting with colleagues horizontally. Some business owners or professionals don’t like to network with peers because they find it threatening. The truth is that networking with colleagues is a key professional skill, not a competition. Consider these tips:
Network Both Online and Offline. Don’t consider a LinkedIn connection request the end of your peer networking. Interact with those you connect with, both online and offline. Consider being part of industry groups online, and finding time to socialize and share with your colleagues in person.
Be a Resource. Just like with business networking, focus as much on what you can give as what you can receive. Do keep in mind, though, that your peers are a great resource for you as well. Post this on Facebook
Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Networking with Peers Boosts Your Career Prospects. Being known and friendly with those you work with can go a long way toward helping you with your career. You never know when one of these colleagues will be in a position to put in a good word for you. Even more, being on good terms with coworkers will make you look great to your boss.
Network, Don’t Gossip. While getting together over drinks to complain about your boss and your workplace may feel good, it’s not networking. If you become known as a complainer or a gossip – or you associate with those who are known that way – you’ll hurt your career instead of helping it.
You now know how to network with those who can build your business and with those who are working alongside you. The last essential of networking is to reach back and network with those who are coming up behind you. Tweet this
Being a mentor is a specific type of commitment with specific responsibilities. It’s great if you can be a mentor, but even if you can’t you can engage in what I call “mentee networking”. That is small amounts of time that you spend connecting with and building up those who are coming up the ladder.
Mentee networking isn’t a long-term commitment to a single person, but it is a focused commitment to help those who are not as far along in their career as you are. Here are some guidelines for mentee networking:
Stay Humble. The key to being a great mentee networker is to not consider yourself better than others in your workplace. You have to have a mindset of helping those who are up-and-coming and look for those opportunities.
Help Interns. Interns are often viewed with disdain by regular full-time employees, but you don’t have to fall into that trap. Interns are often eager to learn and very open to advice. Take advantage of their open attitude and show them the ropes and give them some of the lessons you’ve learned in your career. They will definitely appreciate it!
Learn as Well as Teach. Don’t forget that those coming up behind you have something they can teach you as well. They may have a connection due to a professional development program that could be helpful to you. Perhaps they know new ways to use technology. Regardless, be as open to learning as you are to teaching!
Networking isn’t just about fake smiles and sweaty handshakes. Done well, networking can help you grow your business or career, connect with colleagues, and help those who are coming up behind you.
With those three essentials in your mind, you’ll be ready for success no matter where it comes from!
Which of these essentials of networking clicked with you the most? Share in the comments!