Want to understand how to be a good networker? Then you are in the right place.
The sole mission of this article is to inspire you to take the first step on a challenging journey that will change the life of your business.
In just 15 minutes of reading, you will find out about ideas and actionable steps to improve your networking skills and you will discover the qualities of a good networker.
You do not have to implement all ideas without delay.
I encourage you to read through the 21 ideas, reflect on and develop each idea, and then try one each day. Along the way, you’ll learn which ideas work best for you.
How to Become a Good Networker
1: Set clear and achievable networking goals
It’s at all times a good idea to have at least one goal in mind when attending an organized networking event.
Examples of goals you might have are:
- I will talk to at least five different people
- I will introduce myself to anyone who stands alone looking uncomfortable
- I will collect 10 business cards
Set networking goals that are right for you and for the event.
Having networking goals won’t only make you more productive at the event, but you will have the ability to decide later on whether this particular event should be attended again.
If you meet people you want to network with in the future, you know this is a terrific event to revisit.
Goal setting will help you stay focused, but remember to track your goals on ‘actionable metrics’.
For example, handing out 135 business cards at a conference is a conceit metric, but having 2 calls or a follow-up lunch the next day is an actionable metric, by which you can develop a more serious relationship.
List the networking results you’d like to get this week/month/year and why.
The ‘why’ is important to be sure you’re taking the goal for a good reason. Some questions you may want to ask yourself:
- What are your top 3 networking priorities this week and why
- How many referrals did you decide to get this week and why
- What networking events are you planning to attend this month and why
- What creative ways can you come up with to accomplish your goals
You should write down your network goals and put them in your pocket, so that they’re clear and unambiguous.
2: Dedicate time to accomplish your goals
It’s a good start to have a clear goal in mind. Now you must decide how much effort and time you want to put into networking each week to accomplish your written goals.
The amount of time varies for various professions; a sales-oriented person may must spend up to twenty hours a week generating referrals, while other jobs require less effort.
As a rule of thumb, you should spend a minimum of eight hours a week networking.
However, be creative with regards to networking because you do not have to meet those people at work; instead, plan to meet them for lunch, at a sporting event or pop concert… if necessary.
Schedule the time you’ll spend networking each week in advance, or it won’t ever occur.
3: Create your preferred client profile
Clients are typically sophisticated, but there’s a certain group of clients that you like and do business with. Sit down and consider that chosen client.
Develop a written profile of your ideal customer. Ask yourself:
- What are the demographics of the client. You can group them into traditional demographics (Age, location, gender/gender/race/ethnicity, income) or modern demographics (Interests, passions, skills, beliefs, values), depending on what you want to accomplish.
- What are the traits that made you enjoy doing business with this client?
Working with selected clients will save you plenty of time and increase your chances of converting your business.
4: Resist the urge to be late.
It’s virtually counter-intuitive, but showing up early at a network event is a far better strategy than getting there later.
As a first participant, you will notice that it is quieter and quieter, and folks have not settled into groups yet.
It’s easier to find other people who do not have someone to talk to yet.
Setting your watch 15 minutes early not only helps you have more conversations with prospects, but also gives you enough time to deal with some minor jams.
5: Give before you get
The foundational principle of effective business networking is that you at all times give to others first.
This won’t only build on the relationship you have with the word of mouth marketing team, but will also create a solid win-win outcome for everybody you involve.
The more active you are in generating referrals for people in your network, the more they will see you as the gatekeeper to some great resources.
Purchase a few business card carriers and get in the habit of carrying the business cards of other people in your network with you wherever you go. Look for opportunities to share this across all the various settings you are in.
Send an easy letter to all of your current clients with a list of individuals in your network.
Recommend them as credible, ethical and experienced. Offer to connect your clients with all members of your team.
6: Build your network database
After a while, it becomes difficult to remember who helped you grow your business, what they did and what their own needs were.
Don’t try and do this. Instead, set up a database where you can track this information and use it in the future.
Use any database or customer relationship management software or other system you are familiar with to create your own network database and begin recording what is going on. Include details like:
- Who are your pleased customers.
- What professionals interact with your customers frequently.
- Who gave you the reference and how did it go.
- Who has helped you build your network and what have they done.
7: Diversify your contacts
Most of us have an inclination to associate with others who share our values and goals. From a network perspective, that’s not a terrific thing.
Your network will become stronger if you get out and mingle with people outside your normal circle of activity.
Create opportunities to meet strangers, find out what they do and look for opportunities to bring these people into your circle of contacts. A little little bit of variety is a really good thing in this context.
8: Reconnect with people from your past
You will most likely know people with whom you did business at one time but for one reason or another you no longer interact regularly.
If you reconnect with them, you may be surprised to find that they’re opening new doors for your business now. Take some time this week to call or e-mail:
- People who worked or lived near you in past years.
- Your college friend or acquaintance.
- A coworker you have not seen in a long time.
9: Become a center of influence
If you can be a “rainmaker” for the people you network with, you’ll attract others who want to take advantage of what you must offer.
Take time this week to study your top three competitors and note how effective they’re at attracting people towards those who want to do more business.
To be a center of influence, you need to be approachable, which essentially involves doing the following:
- Always ready to engage anytime you attend any networking event.
- Focus on finding the same interesting things with everybody you talk to. They are at all times there if you dig deep enough.
- Be interesting and fun to talk to (1).
- Always wear your nameplate and recognize other people’s names. And do not forget to have a good supply of business cards nearby ready to go.
- Dare – conquer your fears. Talk to anyone and everybody. Don’t make the error of being arrogant out of fear of being rejected or feeling insufficient. The more you initiate conversations, the better you’ll do and the more confident you’ll be. Take the initiative and strike up a conversation at every opportunity.
10: Become a genuine value-added resource
Don’t just show up at networking events. Aim to add value to the people in your network group.
You do this by building high-quality relationships, which are based on deep connections with others in your network. Be someone they can depend on rather than simply superficial contact.
Pick one person from your networking group and ask them:
- What do you hope to accomplish this year?
- What big challenges prevented you from doing that?
- What am I able to do to help?
- What do you need to achieve success?
Then find ways to help make something good occur for the person as they work towards their goal.
11: Become a catalyst for others
In nature, a catalyst is an agent that starts a chemical reaction of some kind. This is a good analogy for the types of individuals you want to be in your networking group.
Take initiative and work together to make good things occur for as many people in your networking group as possible.
So how do you do this in practice?
There are not any easy 1-2-3 steps involved. Life is a bit more complicated than that.
Instead, determine what’s the first domino you need to tap that will lead to a chain reaction of positive events, and get to work making that domino fall. Create your own luck.
12: Volunteer for things and looks
Volunteering can be a terrific way to build your visibility.
This can help people get to know you, like you, and trust you – all of which then make it easier for them to recommend you to others.
Volunteering also lets you meet other people in your community who share your interests. Volunteering expands the depth and breadth of your network immeasurably.
Note that volunteering in this context is not a recreational activity. You do this to help meet the needs that interest you most.
This is why you are attempting to find reasons that match your interests. You then show your strengths, talents and skills to others in a actual way.
That visibility will lead to other benefits, which will then flow back to you.
13: Send thank you cards to people
Everyone knows sending thank you notes is a terrific idea. It only takes a couple of minutes to do it. People love old-fashioned low-tech personalised handwritten thank-you notes.
They are a very nice touch because people appreciate the effort and time involved.
But the real question is that despite knowing all these benefits, how many personal thank you notes did you send last year?
Networkers do not just speak about saying thank you. They really sent them.
If your goal is to join the well-networked 29 percent of businesses, it is a good idea to set up some system for sending thank-you notes consistently. Keep easy:
- Purchase an acceptable set of thank you notes.
- Make a list of who has been going the extra mile for you lately.
- Take a couple of minutes each day to send thank you cards.
- Ignore the urge to include your business card.
- Thank people every chance you get.
This is an easy, yet often ignored, rule of engagement.
By smiling, you will calm down any nervous nerves, and you will also appear warm and alluring to others. Remember to smile before you enter the room, or before you start the next conversation.
And if you really dread the event? Check for negative attitudes at the door.
15: Make it a habit to follow through
Take some time to see how well you are doing at following up on the referrals you receive from your networking group.
If you are being entirely honest, you will likely notice that some referrals just do not make sense and are never acted on. That’s a problem because timely follow-up is the lifeblood of any effective networking group.
If you do not follow through on directions others provide you with, they will doubt your ability to follow through on whatever you have promised.
Pay close attention to the system you have set up to track the business referrals you receive and what you do with them.
There is no one-size-fits-all system here. The important thing is to find something that works for you. Evaluate how well you are using the system you currently have.
If your system is not working, find out why it is not and do something about it. Make sure any leads you get are followed up promptly and professionally.
As you check your system, also see how you track information about your numerous network partners.
This information needs to be available quickly so you can keep the relationship fresh and focused. See how often you update these details.
Everyone is busy and this information will change all the time. Make sure you are also up to date with the latest information in this area so you do not miss any meetings or appointments you have had appointments with.
Every time you reconnect with a network partner, take this opportunity to concurrently refresh and update their details.
This is nice business practice.
16: Be active in social circles and sports
Learn to play golf. Join a bowling league or sign up for a softball team.
Do something this week that aligns with your sporting interests. Set a regular time you can hang around with other people who like to do the same thing and make it a “catalyst event” where you can bring new and different people together.
Having fun thus creates greater visibility, which will then lead to credibility and eventually business transactions. Playing soccer.
17: Make meal gatherings productive
Focus this week on all the meetings where you take your clients out to eat.
If you are smart, you will use this as a chance to grow your network and not just as a chance to grow your waistline. Meal gatherings can be used a number of ways:
- To further develop and strengthen business relationships.
- To meet someone who might join your network.
- To introduce a colleague to someone you know.
- To teach something.
Work this week to organize at least three meal gatherings involving at least three people from your network in the next month or so.
Make sure everybody knows in advance what the purpose of every meeting is.
18: Ace makes a robust first impression
The business cliché is that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
Your job this week is to pay attention to what sort of first impression you project on others.
Ask: “What message do I send to those who meet me for the first time? Do I come across as professional and a good resource to know or do I just come across as someone looking to sell them something?
Based on what you find, you may need to make some changes in your general grooming and clothing choices.
While you are doing this evaluation, also spend time on the body language you normally use.
Are you making good eye contact? Do you stand in a friendly manner or does everything you do send the message that you should not be approached?
Ask your friends for feedback this week and find out what you need to do (or change) to make a solid first impression.
19: Find or form a network group
A referral network group is a company, which meets regularly for the only purpose of generating business with one another.
It’s like having a sales force working for you so you do not even must pay a commission.
Make it a precedence this week to check if there’s a chapter, meeting someplace, near you and if so, follow and get entangled.
20: Join your local Chamber of Commerce
Chamber of Commerce (2) can help you increase your network activity. This week, find out where your nearest Chamber of Commerce is and request membership information.
If possible, attend an event or two and see what works for you.
Most likely, there will be several options available, so do your homework and choose a Chamber of Commerce, which has a robust and active membership base.
Be proactive in expanding the number of individuals you can network with. And be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get entangled. You must get the goodwill of other members before the referrals start flowing.
21: Sponsor some appropriate events
Event sponsorship is a terrific way to grow your business.
Sponsoring the right event can position your business favorably, create recognition with important people, and make every kind of good things occur. Spend some time this week attempting to find local events you can sponsor.
Chances are, you will not be sponsoring a televised NASCAR race.
You might be sponsoring an event put on by a local community group, a trade event, or something else run by a professional group.
These can all be great ways to bring more people to your network. Find events that include the right level of investment and sponsor them.
Thank you for reading this article on how to be a good networker and I actually hope you take my advice into action.
I wish you good luck and that I hope that its content has been a good help to you.