We all know that you need to build your personal brand. It’s the key to success. Networking should be a priority for all of us. Even if you feel that you don’t require a network at the moment, you must understand that establishing a network is essential in the current business world.
However, business networking is really too often done under false pretenses. Networking is still a skill to be learned.
The ugly truth is that most people waste an awful lot of time with talking to the wrong people, try to impress others and have too long conversations with people they – in the end – wish had never met. Or people spam contacts with their own offers and only see themselves.
Networking done half-heartedly does not bring us the needed success!
However, it does not have to be that way.
When we talk about networking here, we avoid concentrating too much on offline events, as we all conduct our business to a great extent online.
Networking can be time-consuming, no question. And our time is limited and precious. Effective networking really needs time, energy, and resources to produce meaningful results.
So we should keep in mind some important things with regard to successful networking.
Let me share some effective networking tips that will save you plenty of time, will business make easier for you and will bring you tremendous benefits.
Effective networking may build your personal brand.
Networking is NOT a selfish act (“How can this person benefit me personally?”).
Good networking is rarely about immediate results.
Good networking begins with an awareness about your own networking goals. What are your objectives for networking? When networking with others? What are you trying to gain, what do you have to offer?
TIP 1: Networking is all about relationships and relationships are about trust
You certainly want to connect with others in a professionally enriching way. So build trust first and develop your relationships. Build genuine connections. We, as social beings, value genuine connections. Forget selling for a while and don’t treat your contacts as cash cows. Nurture your relationships and learn to care. Leave a positive impression.
Get to know the contact and allow them to get to know you. Give trust first –> “Trust begins with me.” – Karin Sebelin
Introduce yourself to the new contact and ask how you can help him. Share your story and learn about the other person’s story.
One way of building effective relationships is to find common connections with the very person. Make sure to bring it up in the conversation. Another way of building trust is to find common ground and common interests.
Share what moves you and where your current challenges are.
Learn about the other person’s business and projects. Be interested. There is a saying: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”― Dale Carnegie. Curiosity is an important element to adopting an effective networking mindset.
Comment on and like your contacts’ articles and posts on social media. Share your knowledge with others.
The most important networking skills you can develop are listening and asking questions. Listening validates the value of others and is a form of respect.
And when you have the opportunity to meet the very person in real life it will be easier to build trust.
TIP 2: Use the power of a compliment
People like compliments. Each of us. Compliments are so powerful. People feel valued and estimated. Compliments help establish a personal connection.
Show interest in the contact and compliment them the very first time you talk to them.
But keep in mind: Compliments have to be sincere and genuine. Never play a role or try to impress!
Look for genuine reasons to compliment the contact (award, new book, new job, etc.)
TIP 3: Be polite and respectful
Always respect people’s priorities and time. Time is money. Never stress people. Be patient and considerate.
And say thank you more often.
Treating people with respect pays.
TIP 4: Support your contacts
Good networking is about support.
The best networkers are considered “Givers.” Givers understand that good networking is about helping people. The other three types of networkers, that are not effective, are “askers,” “takers,” and “traders” (according to the book on networking by Jack Killion, Networking All the Time, Everywhere with Everybody).
So, like any mutually beneficial relationship (friendship, marriage, etc.) the more you put into it, the more you will gain.
So avoid thinking too much what others can do for you and think about how you can be helping someone else. People will appreciate your willingness to help and will be more likely to want to help you in return.
Offer your advice and offer to introduce people to your own network.
TIP 5: Don’t expect anything or too much
When you are always out to get something, you will not be lucky and you will disappoint people.
TIP 6: Cancel annoying contacts
Eventually, you might come across people who only see their advantage in you, like “How much can I get out of you?”
Let’s be clear:
Networking is not about steadily nurturing the false contacts – people who steadily reach out to you when they need something.
Better delete the contact.
TIP 7: Cultivate your power contacts
All contacts are equal, but some are more equal than others.
As you become more connected to your contacts, you will realize that some of them have become power contacts – people who are constantly introducing you to interesting contacts, referring you to others, recommending you and your business and just pushing your business forward. Here the “give and take” has reached a fairly high level and you are both supporting the other person very willingly.
Lesson learned: You don’t need to know many people, just the right people (quality vs. quantity). The goal is not to have the highest number of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or LinkedIn contacts. The goal is to have the right contacts.
WE CAN SAY:
Networking is an ongoing process that should be handled with care. It requires persistence, attention, and goodwill. Building a network requires time.
TIP 8: The value of dormant ties
Now you might ask:
Fine, but when I have a problem or need a piece of good advice, to whom of my many contacts shall I go? Having now successfully built my great network, whom shall I ask?
This question is certainly important.
And it could be so easy: Simply reaching out to someone and asking for help.
However, this strategy is not to recommend.
Let me explain something:
You may have heard about the concept of strong and weak ties in a network.
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If you needed help, my bet is that you would go to one of your strongest ties.
You would ask someone you know well and truly trust. Whether you were looking for a piece of good advice or a job, it would make sense to contact one of your closest friends, family members, or colleagues, no question.
Strong ties are those people we can trust. They understand our situation and have our best interests at heart.
There is just one problem with this: Our closest contacts tend to know the same people and have the same information that we do.
This is where the value of weak ties comes in.
Too often, we rely on strong ties and overlook the advantage of weak ties. Weak ties (people) are in different circles and learn different things. This means they offer us more efficient access to novel information. In the case of job searches, for example, weak ties can be an advantage.
We have covered strong ties and weak ties. However, there is also a third kind of contact: Dormant ties.
Dormant ties are the people we used to know, those with whom we may have lost contact. Dormant ties can be the most useful of all. In general, people receive more valuable solutions, referrals, and problem-solving assistance from people they used to know than from their current friends and acquaintances. Dormant ties offer new information. During the years of no contact they have become connected to new people and have gathered new knowledge.
In summary, dormant ties combine the benefits of both strong ties and weak ties.
So reach out to people you haven’t seen for years when you have problems or need help and advice. Call on these people to provide you the right blend of trust and novel information.
And here is a good idea: Why not reconnect with at least one dormant tie each month?
Summary of how to build your personal brand
Make networking a priority. Regularly (every day, every week) reach out to interesting people. And broaden your network outside of your industry. You absolutely never know where your next opportunity is going to come from. However, never “collect” contacts!
Networking is a long-term investment.
It is about respect and trust. Learn to value your contacts. Don’t take your friends and business connections for granted. Build valuable relationships.
Do your homework and get to know people.
Cancel annoying contacts.
Cultivate your power contacts.
Find value in dormant ties.
Networking can be a challenge, but if you learn from these tips and practice, practice, practice, you are more likely to feel at ease and be more successful.
Now to you:
- Which of these networking tips have you found to be most vital?
- What would you add to the list?
- What kind of experiences (good or bad) did you make with regard to networking?