Let’s talk about networking! I was recently re-reading an extremely insightful 2020 article from Forbes titled “The 15 Best Networking Strategies You’re Not Using.” I try to revisit this piece a few times a year, and I wanted to share the highlights with you.
Build Relationships First
Enter into every encounter with a “How can I support you?” mindset. Remember to focus more on building relationships, rather than merely collecting business cards. In short, give first and take second.
Add Value to the Network
An effective yet frequently underutilized strategy involves facilitating connections within your network to create mutual value. Consider the possibility that one of your clients could potentially become a vendor for another client of yours. Actively seek out these connections and introduce the relevant parties within your network. By doing so, you not only provide value but also increase the likelihood of receiving high-quality leads in return.
See Networking As a Way 0f Being
We all put our networking hats on when at a conference or industry meeting. The trick is to remember to keep the networking light on during the “normal” days. With every interaction, every phone call or Zoom meeting, always listen deeply to identify ways that you could be of service. How many critical connections have we established through chance meetings or unexpected conversations?
Understand the ‘Why’
This one really struck home with me. I think we can all agree that all too often, networking becomes overly transactional. We slip into the quantity over quality mindset as we accumulate connections at a meeting or gathering. Instead of merely “networking,” shift your approach towards cultivating genuine relationships. Go deeper to understand the “why” behind people’s work, not just the “what” they do.
Be fully present in the moment! This will help you to be more observant of “intention cues” when speaking to someone. Observe their body language, like posture and who they’re engaged with. Once you can discern subtle changes in vocal tone and body language, you’ll be better equipped to understand their intentions and respond appropriately.
Help People Fill One Specific Need
This is probably my favorite bit of advice from the article. We are all familiar with the phrase, “Do one thing well.” This can apply to networking also. When you engage with someone, make an effort to identify one particular thing they’re seeking, and then follow through on their expressed needs.
This could involve making introductions, offering referrals, providing leads, sharing contacts within your network or suggesting relevant events. This kind of personalized connection and assistance will leave a lasting impression on people, impacting how they remember you and the positive feelings
I wish each of you a productive 4th quarter and an abundance of networking success stories in the months to come!
Warmly, David Bland.