Is Your ‘NetWorking’? Strategies to Power Up Your Interactions
Networking is one of the strongest, most valuable business tools because relationships drive today’s business. For many people, the thought of networking conjures negative images. It’s the unappealing prospect of randomly passing business cards or pretending to be interested in everyone we meet. Viewing networking in this way can be a derailing mistake, especially for women.
This is a tough economy and our clients are challenged, holding tight to their dollars, and delaying buying decisions. In this climate, we must remain visible and plugged in. Networking is not about collecting business cards or ‘working a room.’ It’s about building genuine relationships and having strategic web of connections in place to support our goals and the goals of people in our network.
Networking requires the skills to both build and tap into relationships. One of the most effective networking strategies is to strategically strengthen your connections. Indeed, one can get bogged down and forego staying connected. Avoid cocooning and prioritize keeping lines of communication warm with your strongest supporters. Drop notes. Forward articles that may be of interest. Recognize promotions or awards. Stay visible.
For the next event you attend, take the time to prepare. Simply discussing the weather will not make a lasting impact. Be ready with an interesting introduction about you and your goals. Learn to strategically move conversations in meaningful directions.
Successful networks are master conduits. When speaking with someone who mentions a goal, problem or issue she's dealing with, teach yourself to think, ‘Who do I know that can help?’ Then, make the connection. When you build a reputation for being a powerful resource for others, your network will naturally grow and expand.
Finally, remember to close the loop. After attending an event, ask yourself, “Who did I meet?” “Is there an opportunity I should explore?” “How will I follow-up?” It is always easier to follow up with someone if they are expecting to hear from you. If someone has offered help, be sure to circle back with them to let them how you made out.
Lisa Bergeron, President, Leading Women SENE/CT