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7 Steps to Networking Effectively

Networking is an essential activity for anyone starting out in business. However for many people, knowing how to network effectively can be a bit of a mystery. In this article I’m going to share with you 7 key ways to get the best results from your networking efforts.
1. Networking is about building relationships, NOT pitching to people:

When meeting someone of the first time your number one focus should be on creating the foundations of a new relationship. The fastest way to alienate someone that you’ve just met is to launch off into a sales pitch about your business. The only thing that you should be trying to sell at first is a reason for that person to like you and want to get to know you better.

2. Focus the conversation on them, not you:

Ever heard the saying that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason, and that they should be used in precisely that ratio? Well that saying holds true when networking. People love to talk about themselves, and they will also love talking to you if you genuinely show an interest and listen to what they have to say.

3. Find a common ground and build a rapport:

Talk to any sales person worth their salt, and they will tell you that building a rapport is a crucial part of the sales process. People only want to deal with people that they know, like and trust. This principle should always be applied to your networking efforts. Find out what your new contact is interested in whether it be cars, football, fashion or whatever. People are always more comfortable talking to others who share their interests.

4. Focus on getting other peoples cards over giving yours out:

Some people seem to think that networking is all about dishing out as many cards as physically possible. This is a bad way to network. It’s always best to make sure that you have the contact details of the person you are trying to build a new relationship with. This allows you to take control of the follow up rather than relying on the other person to get in touch with you in the future.

5. Always give before you ask for something back:

There is a great saying that goes “relationships are like bank accounts, you should always aim to keep them in the black”. You should always give help to those in your network before asking for things. By doing this you ensure that people in your network will be happy to “return the favour”.

6. Always follow-up after meeting someone:

This is such an important point that really can’t be stressed enough. Why go to all the effort of finding and opening a dialogue with a new contact, only to run the risk of never hearing from them again because you didn’t follow up? The day after the event make sure that you send your new contact a short email thanking them, and saying how great it was to meet them. This simple act can mean the difference between the relationship lasting, and never hearing from them again.

7. Keep records and maintain your network:

Keeping track of your connections and maintaining your relationship with them is a vital part of networking. There are lots of ways that you can keep track of your network; some people like to keep files full of business cards, others store their contacts in Outlook or rely on online networks like LinkedIn. The way you choose to keep track of your contacts isn’t important. The important thing is that you do it, and that you periodically catch up with each one of your contacts to avoid losing touch.

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