Okay, we all know networking is important. And hence, every eager entrepreneur ensures that he or she invests in it. But, are you wasting your precious time doing all the wrong things? After a long day at work, you weave through traffic across town for a dinner hosted by an association of commerce or chase a friend to share about your venture on his Facebook page. The question is whether it’s working to get you what you want. Are you getting what you want?
Let’s look at some things that ACTUALLY work — Because just a Network Never Works. Let’s peel the layers and see what does actually work.
1. Meet a lot of people – You never know what clicks with whom. Take a moment to reflect to how many of your strong professional / personal relationships started out as co-incidences.
2. Focus – Prepare a list of people who you definitely want to network with. You are better off being focused. However, avoid overly aggressive focus, as it may appear premeditated.
3. Listen – Everybody likes hearing themselves talk. Urge others to talk and listen to them. When people talk and are listened to well, they think they have networked well — and that’s when you have actually networked most effectively.
4. Network never works when you want it to work – Strange as it may sound, every node in the network works for its own self. There has to be something in it for everyone. Mostly the people in your network work for you because they too have something to benefit from and in a few instances because they have to return a favour. The network works only when all involved are sufficiently motivated. Look for opportunities to do people a professional favour. Be a giver!
5. Remember to thank – if ever the network works for you, i.e. you have used anyone as a reference / for connecting / explore opportunities / etc, always remember to thank them. It goes a long way in cementing the relationship.
6. Never sell into your network –You should go about showcasing whatever you are selling. It is important that more and more people know your product. But remember – people buy what they want to buy. Seldom are you able to sell what people do not want to buy. The strength of your network erodes with every such unwanted transactions.
7. Follow up –In the good old days there used to be an orange drink called Gold Spot, which a lot of us still remember very fondly of. Where is it now? Remember, out of sight is out of mind.
8. Keep updating the network whenever any significantly interesting development happens – through linkedin or any other similar platform. It’s always useful for people to know what’s going on. You never know at what point someone in the network may be looking for doing business with you. Also, remember at the same time that there’s already too much clutter in social media. Not many people are interested in knowing what you had for dinner last Friday.
9. Surprise people. By simply dropping by or calling in – unsolicited, with no particular objective. Meet over breakfast, go for lunch, share a thought, whatever comes to mind… Goes a long way.
10. Get yourself a hobby – painting / music / golf / running / etc. You will be surprised how many new people you will end up meeting as a result. And you have one more thing to talk about.