Networking is one of those skills that can make or break your business. And sadly, it’s not always intuitive about how to do it well.
One of the most important skills I learned as I moved up the corporate ladder, that still serves me well today is the art of networking. As an entrepreneur and small business owner, referrals can make up 80%-90% of my new business revenues.
Networking is both a competency and a process that you need to be intentional about in order to be successful.
Here are 10 of my favorite networking and business tips which I’ve learned throughout my corporate career and I consistently incorporate on a regular basis to help me be successful:
1. Build Your Networking Muscle
Practice networking by attending lots of different networking events. You will meet many interesting people and contacts, some of which will become great clients, colleagues or friends.
2. Develop Thick Skin
Get comfortable hearing the word “no”, over and over and over again. It will build your character and make you tenacious about your business.
3. Be Nice to Everyone You Meet
I had a boss once who used to say “be nice to the people on the way up because you never know when you’ll be meeting them on the way down”. The world is getting smaller all the time. Don’t burn any bridges and be genuinely nice to everyone.
4. Be Giving
Give your time, your advice and especially your referrals. It will all come back to you in positive karma and plentiful business opportunities.
5. Grow Your Relationship Database
You are only 4 or 5 people away from anything you ever want or need. All you have to do is ask.
Maintain regular and consistent contact with the people in your database. One of my most successful communication tactics is to periodically meet with people in my network face to face. It’s much more personal and much more fun too. When you can’t meet in person then a phone call or personal note works well too. Of course, I’m also on various social networks but other than my Road to Results Newsletter, I try to stay away from canned email communication.
7. Keep it Simple
Look at where you are spending your time and your precious energy. What is generating you the best results, those are the activities you want to continue doing and do more of. Get rid of the time and/or money wasting activities.
8. Build Rapport
Are you a people magnet or a people repellent? What are you projecting outwardly? Make sure others see you as a positive, warm and friendly person they would like to interact with. Make sure your positive personality and outlook is attracting relationships and not pushing them away.
9. Set Goals
If you have a clear vision of where you are going, the rest will fall into place. Make sure you decide on what you want short, medium and longer term and in every area of your life.
10. Access Available Resources
There are so many resources available to support you in whatever you wish to do. Build a strong support team which includes family, friends and colleagues. Read books like The Power of Women United, an inspirational and informative book on networking. Join networking groups in person and on-line. Get connected and stay connected.
Networking is about connecting with people, building and nurturing relationships, sharing information, tapping into the hidden job market, learning about career opportunities, pooling resources and expanding your contacts. Networking is about connecting with people not collecting people. It is truly a life skill whereby you build, nurture and maintain quality mutually beneficial relationships over your career and your lifetime.