- Master networkers realize not just the importance, but the necessary processes to make strong healthy connections for their businesses.
- In this article, those processes are funneled down to the top 5 actions business owners can use to help build their network.
As a business owner, you realize that networking is a key component to help you stay relevant to your customers and your competition.
Yes, it takes effort to network, and decidedly some people are better at it than others. Nonetheless, networking needs to be done.
So why not learn from the best networkers out there?
In a recently published article on Inc.com, master networkers reveal the 5 top methods you can use to increase and strengthen your network.
1. Do your homework before formally networking.
It’s best to do some background study on the person you plan to network with before actually meeting them. If at all, it’ll show that you’ve done your due diligence of learning who the person is, and that you don’t want to meet this person just for the information they can relay to you.
Another advantage to familiarizing yourself with the person you wish to network with is you will gain a rough idea of how you can appeal to that contact, suggests Elizabeth Gore, the president of Alice, an A.I.-based adviser for business owners.
Ultimately, professional relationships should benefit both parties.
"Really think about that two-way connection," Gore advises. When you approach someone, know what you can offer to make the interaction more memorable, authentic, and distinct.
2. Stick to 48 hours.
Adherence to the '48-hour rule,' suggests a timeline (and deadline) in which you follow up with a contact after a business meeting or conference, or even just a quick chat over coffee.
Gore suggests that it is crucial to follow up within a short time frame. Once you part ways with a potential professional contact, you should put a reminder in your calendar to check back within 48 hours.
Getting in touch later than two days after meeting someone can give the impression that you don't care about the new relationship or the subject you discussed with your new contact.
3. Tenaciously pursue your contact.
Cindy Eckert, founder and CEO of the Pink Ceiling, a venture capital fund that invests in female-led businesses, preaches the value of persistence.
She advises being upfront and tenacious in letting people know what you are out to accomplish--an approach that served her well on her path to entrepreneurial success.
"You have to be convinced that you would be doing the other person a disservice by not telling them what you're trying to do and how you're trying to change the game," says Eckert, who has sold two pharmaceutical companies for a total of $1.5 billion. "That is the mark of a true entrepreneur. They're so determined that everybody will (want to) hear their vision."
4. A question not to ask.
You should never ask someone what he or she does immediately upon meeting that person, says Stephen Lease, the founder and CEO of sunglasses startup Goodr:
"That is the lamest way to network possible," explains Lease.
You need to be authentic, which means skipping the small talk. Only the best professionals will approach a networking opportunity with fresh questions.
Lease urges that potential networkers find a conversation topic to connect on. Once they hit on something that can bond the person pursuing a networking opportunity with a prospective contact, the pursuer will have better odds when it comes to asking that contact for a favor.
5. Exude confidence as you network.
"A good $50 to $100 million of our cap table came from random introductions," says Chieh Huang, the co-founder and CEO of Boxed, an e-commerce company.
Huang suggests confidence is king while networking.
"Go up to folks whether you know that they can help you or not," he says.
Huang’s suggestion is to greet potential contacts and ask them what they are talking about.
"In my entire professional career, I've never gone up to a group of folks and asked that question and been rejected."
Networking is one of the most effective tools any business owner can use to garner more business and with that, additional market share.
Without a doubt, networking has its tricks and nuances, much of that depending upon the person who you want to network with. As well, due to shyness or any other type of discomfort, to just go up and start speaking with a stranger can be difficult.
Nonetheless, networking needs to be done. So go at it easy. Meet the person you want to contact, but talk about something far from the realm of business only so that the ice can be gently and gradually until a point when you feel comfortable enough to ask for their contact information.
Once that is done, you’ve made your contact, showing that in the end, networking really is worth the effort.