In business, the ability to connect and build strong relationships is extremely important. In many industries the majority of revenue comes either from a referral or positive word of mouth, so it is extremely important that you have multiple people promoting your business and your profession and that you generate a positive word of mouth offline and online.
To be successful in networking you have to create a business relationship strategy plan. Set goals of what you wish to achieve and a timeline by when you want to achieve it. Successful networking is all about being able to expand your marketing voice among multiple people. The best way to achieve this is by building a power network team of 5 to 10 well connected individuals. The goal with this is not to sell to these contacts but to help them sell you to their book of business. Here are two ways that you can approach a network meeting.
The first approach is going straight for the sale. Although this might create more instant revenue for your business, if it doesn’t work out you will most likely miss out on several business leads.
The second approach is focusing more on how can I help you get more qualified leads and how can you help me get more qualified leads. This approach (if you are talking to the right person) can create multiple business leads and will ultimately be the better choice. It does take time, but if you have a power team of 5-10 well connected individuals that are constantly looking to connect you with new prospects, it will eventually be the more profitable approach.
There are three types of people that you will network with: the giver, the taker, and the connector. The connector will introduce you to as many qualified leads as he or she possibly can because they love to help and connect people. The giver also has potential to be a good network connection, however make sure you also give back to them (they might not ask for it). The taker does not understand the networking game and is most likely meeting with you to make a sale and will mostly likely not provide any qualified leads for you and your business.
Networking takes time. Do not expect instant success, because a big part of good networking is building a relationship of trust. Listen to what they have to say, help whenever you can, and educate them about you and your business. Also don’t hesitate to reach out to your current clients to network. They will appreciate your efforts in helping their business grow, and if they like your work they will most likely promote you and your services to their business connections.