In today’s increasingly interconnected global economy, it’s absolutely essential that business owners develop productive and rewarding relationships with both clients and colleagues. Although the idea of “networking” has revolutionized business strategies (and resulted in the creation of one of the most trendy business buzzwords of all time), many business owners still remain in the dark about how to effectively connect with others and develop a rewarding and highly effective social network.
We’ve compiled a few ideas that may help you discover new methods by which you can optimize your networking strategy and reap significant financial rewards in the process!
Strategy #1: It’s About More Than Just A Business Card
It seems that an astonishing number of individuals are content to hand out their business cards to colleagues or customers at a networking event or conference and call it a day. Unfortunately, the business card is not the “end all to be all” tactic it may have been prior to the digital era.
Those who are invested in gaining the maximum possible return from their new connections are advised to engage in further communication with their new contacts. It can be as simple as a followup e-mail, or, for those who prefer to do business on a full stomach, a lunch date. These efforts will be rewarded with an increased likelihood of collaboration and synergy over time.
Strategy #2: Not Everyone Can Help You
Ever heard the expression, “pick and choose your battles?” In the world of professional networking, it’s important to be able to determine who is capable of advancing your particular cause and who you believe would become a beneficial professional contact over time. Although it’s always fun to meet new people and deploy thousands of business cards, it’s highly likely that the vast majority of these efforts will be entirely wasted until you pick and choose the contacts you are making.
You don’t have to set meetings with every person you meet in order to network properly. Decide who has similar business goals and a similar target niche as you, and spend your efforts wisely. Time is money, after all.
Strategy #3: Preserve The Connection
Just like non-professional relationships, your business contacts will slowly dry up unless you nourish them. Whether it’s a simple “hello” e-mail or a Christmas card, you MUST remember to make contact with both your existing and newly established networking connections in order to ensure that you remain as present in their minds as they are in yours.
You never know what rewarding opportunities may spring out of a simple “Hello. How are you doing?” The possibility of strengthening your businesses reputation and financial health is definitely worth the short amount of time it takes to write an e-mail. Not only will this strengthen the relationship, but it will instantly set you apart from most other “networkers” who never bother to stay in touch.
Strategy #4: Avoid the Instant Gratification Mentality
It’s easy to get wrapped up in trying to find contacts who can further your business right away. Or to get discouraged when your networking efforts don’t pay off right away. But this line of thinking can be dangerous. Just because you meet someone who has nothing to offer your business right now, doesn’t mean they won’t be a beneficial contact down the road. Keep networking and eventually it will pay off tenfold.
And don’t forget to treat every business owner or contact you meet with kindness and respect whether they have something to offer you or not. Always.
Strategy #5: You Have to Give, In Order to Receive
This is one area of networking the majority of people overlook. Newsflash, it’s NOT all about you. The world does not revolve around your business and your ideas.
The best way to get new contacts to send you referrals or send people to your website or anything else, is to help them first. With no strings attached. What goes around comes around. And even if those contacts don’t ever end up sending you business, it’s just good karma. Abandon the selfish mentality and be truly willing to help others further their business efforts as well. At the end of the day you’ll feel good about what you’re doing and you’ll make more friends in the process.