Master the art of networking
Picture this: You make a great connection at a networking event, enjoy a chat and a glass (or four) of pinot grigio before exchanging business cards. You’re thrilled – this could be the start of a fantastic collaboration! So how do you transform that encounter into a business relationship? As it turns out, social media and online marketing platforms can help you make the most of these new opportunities…
Why is networking important?
Like it or loathe it, networking is an integral part of growing any business. It’s key to increasing expertise and spreading the word about what you do! It also allows you to:
Networking on a regular basis creates valuable connections. And within this ever-expanding web, you are more likely to access influential people in your field when the need arises. And remember – when you network with one person, you’re really tapping into their entire network as well.
From a fiscal perspective, marketing can be helpful to increase business referrals. Such referrals are typically already ‘warm’ to your business and therefore higher prospects than cold leads gained through marketing.
Build your profile.
Networking will help to build your professional profile quickly. You can establish a positive reputation by offering value to others in your field. They will in turn think of you first and foremost when they meet somebody who could benefit from your business and expertise.
Leverage human nature!
Eighty-four percent of people report that they build better business relationship in face-to-face meetings.
How can social media help?
Empathy, interest and relatability are key attributes that help to build new relationships. People like to feel understood and valued. We naturally tend to do this around people we like, adjusting our body language and speech to reflect their own. Psychologists call it ‘mirroring’.
You can fast-track this by doing some online homework! Before reaching out to your new connection, find out what makes them tick. This will help you to find common ground in conversation, plus discern if your interests and values align. Here are some things to check before reaching out:
Discover more about your new connection via a simple search engine query. Type in their name and/or company to get a deeper understanding of their business and goals.
Instagram and Facebook.
Social media stalking can be creepy or it can be professional – it all depends on your intention. Check out their main social media accounts from the professional, objective view of understanding what matters to them and how this may translate into shared business values and rapport.
Find out if you have mutual friends on facebook. If so – and if your mutual friend is a trusted confidante – you may wish to ask for a second opinion about this person. Does your mutual friend think that pursuing a business connection would be good for both parties?
Link up on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn was literally designed to be a networking platform for professionals. This is a wonderful, socially acceptable method for following up with new contacts. Just make sure your account is impeccably up-to-date and that your ‘let’s connect!’ message is personalised.
The most important tip is JUST DO IT! Networking is outside many people’s comfort zones. That’s okay, just remember that the rewards for pushing past that fear are significant. You’ll gain business growth, new connections, increased referrals, professional support and a stronger profile. The worst thing that’s likely to happen is you don’t hear back – but when you do, the possibilities are boundless. So get networking, Fox!