Networking involves the creation of a network of contacts around your business or your own personal brand, working every day with them to expand said network and generating greater value. In this way you will be increasing the value and influence of your business and also your personal branding. These contacts could help you, in the medium or long term, to forge alliances and achieve mutual benefits.
There is no science to this because it is a simple matter of human relations and there is no better way to make this happen than by talking to people. We live in a world so digitally connected that often we forget to “devirtualise” people and create personal and direct relationships.
Nonetheless, you can follow these eight pieces of advice to improve your networking:
Time to networking, the power of relationships:
- Find your niche: pick the community or sector in which you would like to make your mark and look for conferences, talks or events to attend that are related to the field.
- Make yourself seen: try to do things in an original way, differently from the rest. Pay attention to detail as it will be this that makes the difference. Discuss publications from your contacts, be grateful in person for details you take on board, etc.
- Forget embarrassment: when you go to conferences or key locations to network don’t back yourself into a corner or talk only to your companion. Try to initiate conversation with everyone else present. Congratulating the speakers or commenting on the content of the event can be a good way of striking up a chat.
- Business cards: collecting a stack of business cards makes no sense if you’re not delving into them. Make a note of interesting details about the owner of the card and file them when you go home in order to work with them later on.
- Keep your own list of contacts. When you have all the business cards organised it is a good idea to make an online list of contacts. For example, an Excel file that allows you to sort and group contacts to work in the most efficient way.
- Follow up: once you have created the list you have to work to make it applicable over time. Send them a message after the event to thank them for the conversation or to simply stay in contact.
- Offer to collaborate: everyone is looking every day for people or “influencers” with whom to collaborate. This doesn’t always have to involve financial compensation but it could bring you other, more interesting rewards. In fact, it is much better not to discuss money in the first instance.
- Create value for your contacts. Try to “reward” these contacts in some way. Invite them to events you consider interesting to them. Send them truly interesting information relevant to their own projects, offer to talk about their businesses on your personal blog etc.
As you can see, a strong system of networking involves daily work and although there is no science to it, the first step is striking up a conversation. So, let’s talk?