The reading level for this article is Novice
Returning to their caves every night, some diehard business people can be heard muttering that networking is a waste of time.
Others adopt a more lighthearted and perhaps frivolous approach and believe that networking is simply business parlance for a wee swally (Scottish for alcoholic beverage).
The truth is – they are both right. Much of the activity that passes as networking is both a waste of time and an excuse for refreshment on the way home form work.
Those who approach networking with a sense of purpose and expectation know that their lives will be richer as a result – and it will do the same for your bank balance if that’s what you want.
It all boils down to a fundamental universal principle – people buy from people. CRM, or customer relationship management is the buzz term, but the bottom line is, people – not organisations, make buying decisions.
So how do you network effectively? Well, first a couple of points under the heading “How not to do it”
DON’T LEAVE IT TO CHANCE
Those who think networking is a waste of time go to any old event that they can squeeze into their calendar in a reactive and unfocused way.
DON’T ALWAYS PLAY SAFE
If you go where you’ve always gone, you’ll get what you’ve always got! Meeting an established circle can very quickly become either very staid or very social – more like a reunion. If you are going round the same track time and time again it’s less likely that you’ll encounter new opportunities. However, the corollary is also true – trust builds up, usually over time, and it can take a consistent long term effect to reap rewards.
SO – THE RULES!
Key pointers include:
Network for a purpose – proactively choose your networks – some for inspiration, some for peer support some for specific hot leads
Open your mind
Develop good opening and closing lines
Be prepared to ask for help or information
Don’t be a bore
Be opportunistic and critically – apply the Noah Principle (it’s all very well predicting rain but what counts is building an ark)
Follow up – send an email/brochure/interesting article or an invitation for a follow up meeting
Recognise and acknowledge that different networks serve different purposes. Some are for peer support, some are for inspiration, most are for information gathering.
Opportunities often arise form the least likely places – usually because your mind is open and receptive.