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Networking Know How

13 ways to make your connections count

Networking is not collecting business cards. Networking is creating a pool of sources from which you can draw clients, resources, referrals and opportunities. This pool of people is called your “sphere of influence.”

Weeks after meeting a travel consultant at an event, I received a huge packet of promotional material in the mail. This costly packet was sent without a hello note, no business card and no follow-up call. What a waste of paper, postage and energy! Attractive, innovative marketing materials are far less important than a smile and a handshake.

Success in business is not about products or services. It is about people getting to know who you are and what you do. Your success is not solely dependent on your product or service. Your success depends on the width and depth of the people in your sphere of influence.

Business success should be attributed to the people who know you, like you and trust you, the people in your sphere of influence. These people should be your friends, your clients, your vendors, members of groups you belong to, and anyone else you have ever met with whom you maintain contact. The people in your sphere of influence will send you referrals; they are the people you call when you have a question, and are a great resource for you and your clients.

Making Your Connections Count
1. Increase the number of people you come in contact with. Go to networking events, join a professional organization, or put together a workshop. Set goals for meeting new people each week. Then create an action list to meet that goal.

2. Tell people you are interested in expanding your sphere of influence. Ask what they do to meet people and if they can introduce you to people you would like to meet.

3. Create rapport. Put your attention on the person you are talking to. Make eye contact, smile and give a good handshake. Ask questions about things that interest them, their business, their industry and their professional affiliations.

4. Make an effort to learn and remember names and use them in conversation. People will remember you when you remember them.

5. Always get a business card when you meet someone. After you leave, make notes on the card. Write where you met them and something about them that will help you remember them when you look at their card later. Also note any action items you agreed to do, i.e., follow-up with them next week or send a brochure.

6. Always send a handwritten note after you meet someone you want in your sphere of influence. The note need not say more than “nice to meet you.” Print note cards with your photo on them to ensure that people will remember who you are, and your note will make more impact. Don’t send someone a solicitation letter.

7. Refer people to each other in your sphere of influence. When you put two people together and it goes well, you become a hero.

8. Create a contact schedule. How often are you going to contact everyone in your sphere of influence: monthly, quarterly, semiannually? How are you going to contact them: by phone, with a note, by sending a newsletter?

9. Consider holding an annual event for your sphere of influence. You could partner with a friend in a complementary business and double your sphere of influence in one night.

10. Thank people who refer business to you at least three times: with a phone call, with a note and by thanking them in person, in front of other people. Everybody appreciates recognition!

11. Do not focus on getting business immediately. Focus on creating a solid relationship with people so they know you, like you and trust you. Eventually, they will refer business to you or become a regular customer.

12. Create a system for keeping track of people; record information that is important to them: their spouse’s name, their professional affiliations, any awards they have won, etc.

13. Invite someone you want to know better to events that you know would be of interest to them. This is a simple, easy way to build a relationship.

Support your Business
People buy from you when they know you, like you and trust you. Business is not about what you do or how you do it. Business is about relationships and helping others overcome their challenges and meet their objectives, about finding out what needs to be done and doing it. Provide people with support and you will build a large sphere of influence that supports your business.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association
Caterina Rando Meet the Author
Caterina Rando is a speaker, master certified coach and author of the book “Learn to Power Think.”

 

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