If you’re not a savvy networker, you probably wonder what secret sauce those who are savvy networkers are using.
The 3 maxims below may help you.
When it comes to networking, people are the common denominator.
The speed and ease with which people can create connections has expanded exponentially. The speed and ease with which human beings accept one another has not kept pace. Just because technology allows you to snatch 30 business cards from the networking table at a Chamber event, go back to the office and issue 30 Linkedin invitations within 20 minutes doesn’t mean that you should do it. Doing this cuts the “people” element right out of the equation. Human beings need time to build rapport and trust with one another. Which leads me to my second maxim. . .
The surest way to short-circuit your networking success is to take short cuts in the people process.
Savvy networkers know that creating lasting, meaningful business relationships takes time. Networking is not a get-rich quick scheme. Similarly, smart networkers don’t confuse networking with prospecting for new customers. Networking can be a means to gaining access to new customers, but it is not the sole purpose. I find that sales professionals get discouraged with networking events because “I didn’t get a single sales lead”. Nope, you didn’t, because that’s not what networking’s about. Networking is about finding business contacts who have a mutual interest in helping one another. That narrows the field significantly, doesn’t it? Speaking of narrowing the field. . .
Make sure your network is a lake, not a river: vast and deep, not wide and shallow.
Creating a healthy, productive network takes time and energy. It’s one thing to have 500 connections in your Outlook Contacts list, but how many of those people would return your phone call. . . or more importantly, could be a positive advocate for your business or your skills? It’s not always about numbers. Yes, lots of contacts give you potential access to lots of people—but will they be interested in helping you? And equally important, are these people you have an interest in helping in some way? The best networkers I know are genuine in their attempts to help people. They work to connect their contacts to others, and they offer assistance with no expectation of anything in return. Technology makes is super-simple to stockpile “connections”, but be honest with yourself—is this a fun numbers game, or does your network provide true value, both to yourself and to others.
Take this information and figure out what kind of internal networking plan will work for you. Don’t try to do everything at once. If you do, your co-workers will think you’re nuts. But gradually working into internal networking will improve your relationships throughout your company and your career potential – whether you plan to stay at this company or more on.