10 Tips for Successful Business Networking
Authenticity, building trust, and seeing how you can help others are key aspects of networking.
Make a list of your networking goals so you can choose groups that will help you achieve them. The goal of some meetings may be to learn, make contacts, or volunteer rather than strictly make business connections.
Attend as many groups as you can that interest you. Pay attention to the tone and attitude of the group. Does everyone seem supportive of each other? Are the leaders competent? You can usually visit two times before you decide to join.
Be involved in organizations through volunteering. Giving back to groups that have helped you is a great way to stay visible.
Engage in open-ended conversations with your network. In other words, these are questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how rather than those that can be answered simply with yes or no. This type of questioning opens up the discussion and shows the listener that you are interested in them.
Establish yourself as a valuable resource for others. Whenever you are recognized as a great resource, people turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. This makes you visible to them.
Have a clear understanding of what you do and why, for whom, and what makes you different from others doing the same thing. Getting referrals requires that you have a clear understanding of what you do that can be explained easily.
You need to be able to articulate what you want and how others can help you. There are too many times when people ask, "How may I help you?" and no immediate answer comes to mind.
Follow up on referrals quickly and efficiently. Your actions reflect on the people who refer you. If you honor and respect that, your referrals will increase.
Contact those you meet who might benefit from what you do, and vice versa. Tell them how much you enjoyed meeting them, and ask if you can meet up to discuss ideas.