Networking is one of the most essential aspects of operating in business today. Potential connections can lead to critical partnerships for your company. We have outlined five tips to ensure that your next connection can lead to your best possible connections ever.
Be aware of your online presence
In this modern-day of networking, your online and social media presence are your strongest assets for building connections. There are thousands of opportunities that can occur with just the click of a button. Ensure that your platforms are consistent and seamless with the story of your brand. You want everything to have a similar tone and message in order to hone into your company’s message.
Your personal social media platforms should be even stronger than your company - this is where most of your connections are going to occur. Look at what platforms you use and which ones are vital to your business potential. Keep it clean, and make sure what you are posting is reflecting the most positive version of yourself. Any platforms you have that aren’t vital to your business, place on private. Remember, you are the product. You are who your connections will associate the company with.
Also, don’t underestimate the power of Linkedin. Some of the strongest business partnerships can occur from a personal connection. Your Linkedin should be your strongest social media platform and expand from there.
Always be on the lookout for networking potentials
Networking opportunities can occur anywhere, not just your traditional company events. Go to as many events as you can for your industry. Look for places that are frequently used for mingling, and build rapport there. Think of everywhere from fundraisers to major conferences as opportunities to network. Some of your strongest connections can come from just being in the right place at the right time.
Create a strategy for networking. You should always have a planned goal before going into an event or meeting. Remember, you want to make an impression that lasts, but also one that matters. Think about how this person will add value to your company, and in turn, what can you offer to them. Connections aren’t just what someone brings to your table, it’s all about how you can produce a mutually beneficial relationship.
Networking never ends - stay connected
Your networking shouldn’t stop after you make that first connection or when you need something from your connection. In order to build a successful partnership, it’s all about how the number of touches you can have with someone. Don’t just add them on Linkedin and let the connection stay there. Reach out when you see they’re going to be at an event you’ll be attending, or when you come across an interesting article or tip pertaining to the industry they are in. You should be maintaining contact with your connections at least two to three times a year so that you might stay top of mind.
Quality over quantity - it’s who you know, not how many you know
You might have over a thousand possible connections, but if you aren’t able to maintain a relationship, or build rapport with them, they are just possibilities without fruition. The strength of your connection is more important. Figure out who matters most in your connection pool. This is usually 20 to 50 people that you regularly stay in contact with. These are people you should know just beyond business opportunities. Know what interests them and follow up on those. These will be the people that you can create key partnerships with.
Your next group of connections you maintain should be the next 50 - 100 people who might have potential, or might have helped in the past, but you don’t regularly socialize with. You still need to maintain a connection with them as they offer the potential of growth. Anyone else beyond these connections can be helpful, but might not be crucial yet to what your company needs. When you are looking at your connections, think of the people themselves, and not the position they are in. In 10 years, where will this person be? They might be just a manager now, but 10 years from now, they can grow into an executive or president position. Influencers that last aren’t born overnight, they grow into their positions. Be on the lookout for those with room for growth, they can prove vital to your business down the road.
Be generous - not everything you do needs to be given something in return
Before you ask for something, make sure you are invested in that person. Not everything you do needs to have reciprocation in mind. Always offer help without expecting anything in return. When engaging with your prospects, make them the center of your conversation. Ask them what challenges they are experiencing and how you can help. This approach will pay off for when you do need something from a connection. People will remember a generous spirit before they remember anything else.
Following these tips will help make sure you are creating the best, most prudent connections possible. You never know where your next connection can lead you, and the potential for partnerships are right at your fingertips. Think about which of these tips stand out the most to you, and how you can implement them into your networking now.