We recently hosted a networking breakfast for businesses/entrepreneurs through the Cape Chamber. It was a well -attended event with a group of confident, purposeful men and women in the room.
It got me thinking on just how important networking is, and how to maximize on these events like many of those in the room did that Friday morning.
Here’s a nifty definition of networking-Creating a group of acquaintances and associates and keeping it active through regular communication for mutual benefit. Networking is based on the question “How can I help?” and not with “What can I get?” (Business Dictionary)
In my opinion, networking is an essential skill for aspiring and existing entrepreneurs. When used consistently and purposefully, it can seriously increase your impact; raise your income and extend your brand awareness.
Here are 5 tips, from the Huffington post, on improving your networking. (With thanks to Collette Phillips)
Ask any successful person and they will tell you that networking is a key element in moving one’s career forward. Your network is your net-worth. The art of developing powerful relationships can do wonders for one’s career and business. Research shows that the best jobs are never advertised and 85% of all jobs are secured through networking. But as familiar as it is to everyone in the workforce, it is one of the most underused career enhancement methods, due to misconceptions about how to network strategically. Here are some helpful tips on Successful Networking and how to use networking to enhance and grow your professional and business network.
- 1. Networking Should Be Mutually Beneficial:
The most successful professionals know and understand that networking is a two-way street. A networking relationship should be mutually beneficial to each party. Ask what’s in it for the other party — not just what’s in for me. In fact, when it comes to networking it’s better to err on the side of giving than receiving. You can’t build your network and always expect to get something. You have to give something, to get something. Everyone has something to give, whether it’s time, talent, or performance. But perhaps the most valuable networking currency is information.
- The “Work” in Networking is just That.
All of us are familiar with networking and in the midst of drinking and socializing, strategic networking oftentimes gets lost. Networking is just that work, not net eating, net drinking or net partying. It’s hard engaging in a meaningful conversation with a full mouth. There are many “must show” non-profit events which occur, yet it is critical to know and attend these events. Find out which ones your company support and make it known that you are open and receptive to be attending these events. Remember the goal of networking is to make a connection not just socializing.
- Build Strong Relationships: Both On and Off Line
Word of mouth is an effective and credible endorsement tool. Since it defines how you are perceived. Nothing is more powerful in building your brand than what your network of contacts — your friends, colleagues, customers, clients, current and former bosses — say about you. Borrow a page from the best corporate brand builders. Expand your network both online (Linked-in; Facebook; Twitter; Instagram etc.) and off line by attending selected networking events and researching new professional and affinity groups that are relevant to your industry. Having a strong network requires relationship building. Stay plugged in to your network and share your successes with them.
- Here’s what your need in your toolkit to be a good networker:
1)Business cards; 2)Breath mints or gum; 3) A firm shake; 4) Knowledge of current events; 5) A positive attitude and a warm engaging personality; 6) One or two really funny clean jokes; 7) Helpful information; 8) Willingness to follow-up; 9) Always make good eye contact; 10) Don’t outstay your welcome.
- Follow Up:
A good rule of thumb is always follow up with an email or even better a handwritten note within 48 hours of meeting someone, but never longer than a week. Remember the 4 UPS: Read Up! Show Up! Listen UP and FOLLOW UP!
Here’s to building a strong network!