People often complain to me that they feel frustrated with their networking efforts. In probing further, I generally figure out that the problem is not that they aren’t attending networking events, but it’s that they are attending them at random, exchanging business cards with everyone they meet and then perplexed when nothing happens. I call these folks “serial networkers”. They confuse a lot of activity with effectiveness and they are not the same thing! Based on 30+ years of selling experience, I can tell you that most people haven’t learned a system for building a network that when worked in a consistent way produces results.
The trick is to think about networking as a process – a journey – rather than an event. Whether you are building a business or looking to secure that next big promotion, the quality and strength of your net is critical. Oh, and by the way, even when you have a job or business is good – you must NEVER stop putting focus on building your network. Do so at your own peril! The time to build a network is not when you need it most – like when you’ve just lost your job.
Ok, so are you noticing a theme here? The process of net building contains several core elements, such as writing down your goals, using a tracking mechanism, choosing activities that match your goals and getting out there on a consistent basis. Think about what you want to accomplish and focus your efforts accordingly. For you, it could be a mix of phone calls, attending events or making contributions on social media sites (yes, it can definitely lead to business!) As you consider your net building activities, think about where your potential client is most likely to be. Simple as it sounds – go there!
Once you have clarified what you want to accomplish, it is time to put a few simple practical steps into place and watch your networking attitude and efforts improve.
- Write down your goals
- Develop a mix of activities and then wisely choose where to place your focus
- Create a database to track your network
- Map your network – determine A, B, C contacts (it will help with scheduling how often you contact them)
- Pay it Forward – make it your goal to COLLECT business cards – not just hand yours out!
- Block time weekly to focus on building the strength of your network
Building strong relationships is the key to closing sales. This one simple truth is the timeless secret to long-term success, so take your networking efforts seriously – get going and start building that powerhouse network today!