Networking is an activity that many people take part in on a regular basis.
In fact, most of us don’t even realize we are networking when it takes place. Most situations and conversations with colleagues, friends or new people should be taken seriously because you never know where it could lead you. Consider every opportunity to build a relationship as networking.
Because we often get comfortable in our networking routine, we often forget some of the basic rules of relationship building. Pay attention to what’s written below so you can become a more cognizant and effective networker. After all, a refresher never hurts!
Don’t Be Rude in Conversations
During a conversation with someone, it is easy to forget some of the important and positive communication skills to show you are listening. If we are bored with a conversation, we tend to show this by wandering our eyes or having a difficult time standing still.
We tend to get restless and would like to move on to the next conversation. Resist the urge!
Treat people with the respect they deserve. You need to show you are interested by focusing on the conversation. Keep your eyes fixed on the person and stand straight. Give good listener cues such as head nodding and asking thoughtful questions.
Also, we tend to interrupt people during conversations (especially when we are bored).
You won’t click with everyone, of course, so don’t expect every discussion to be enjoyable. Still, you don’t want to come across as rude. Make sure you hear people out before you jump in with your words. Wait for a pause or an appropriate time for you engage in the conversation.
Don’t Forget to Follow Up
You have probably heard from time to time that follow up is very important in networking.
It’s true. I am here to tell you once again that you need to follow up with people. We get busy in our crazy lives and we can forget the simple of acts of relationship building. Believe it or not, some of us are even lazy (not you, of course) and details like following up are not in our nature.
Without proper follow up, you will have a difficult time becoming an effective networker.
After you meet someone for the first time, follow up with a nice e-mail or phone call. While it’s impossible to follow up with everyone, focus on the people you connect with the most. After you decide which people to follow up with, thank them for the conversation and try to schedule a follow-up meeting.
Follow up is also important for existing people in your network whether they are friends, colleagues, clients or partners.
If you tell someone you will do something, you absolutely need to follow up. I can’t tell you how many times people I either meet for the first time or people I already know don’t follow through on their promises. It’s hard to take people seriously when they don’t do what they say they will do.
Make yourself stand out by always following up and following through. You will build a positive relationship in the community, which is important for effective networking.
Don’t Forget to Acknowledge, Thank People
Because of our hectic schedules, we are always on the go and can forget to acknowledge some of the people who have made us successful.
If you don’t acknowledge people and thank them for helping you along the way, you are missing a huge part of relationship building. If someone connected you with a new client, investor or partner, you better take the time to keep the connector in the loop.
People feel good when they help others. Let them feel good about this and tell them when they have helped you. As you develop these new relationships and additional developments take place, make it a point to notify the connectors.
By properly acknowledging people, you will be seen as someone who appreciates assistance and takes relationships seriously. When it comes time for additional help, connectors will be more inclined to continue to help you.
Don’t Sell Your Company Too Soon
How many times do you meet people at networking events and they try to sell you something in the beginning of your conversation? These are the people who give networking a bad name because they don’t understand the value of relationship building.
If you are one of these people (and I’m not implying that you are), stop doing this immediately. Instead, focus on getting to know people and having them get to know you.
During the relationship-building process, individuals will naturally get to know what you’re selling. Over time, you will have a good idea as to which people in your network could benefit from what you have to offer.
People will feel comfortable with you, and when they are ready to purchase your type of product or service, they will mostly come to you first. Be patient and let the sale come to you rather than you chasing it all the time. While you do need to be aggressive to sell, you don’t need to be when it comes to relationship building.
You need to take the intricacies of networking very seriously. By taking the time to focus on the details, you will become a more effective relationship builder.
Jason Jacobsohn is a seasoned networker who believes in relationship building as a key component to business success. He enjoys helping others succeed by making introductions, planning events, and sharing resources. In addition, Jacobsohn enthusiastically shares resources with his network through his e-mail newsletter, “Network Your Way to Success, ” and http://www.jacobsohn.com , a comprehensive business and networking resources Web site. Further, he shares an additional perspective through his blog at http://www.networkinginsight.com .