Many people hate networking. I didn’t really like it either but I learned to embrace it because I knew I could not grow my business without it. After reading many books and articles on it, i can tell you that networking is one of the most effective and affordable ways of marketing your business and your services. It’s not what you know but who you know that counts. Skill and grit will only get you so far. As an entrepreneur, if you don’t have a network you will keep reinventing the wheel. Attending events, seminars, workshops, trade association meetings- essentially going any place where prospects are found, is one of the most effective ways of marketing your products and services.
Here are five habits you must develop or improve on in order to network effectively:
- Sharing: It is important to know how to give to others. Networking just wouldn’t be networking if we didn’t share. We build stronger relationships with people when we are willing to share our resources, including our time, money, connections, information, knowledge and skills. People appreciate us if when we are willing to give to the relationship. People who give are approachable, and they reap the benefits of reciprocity.
- Patience: patience is virtue when it comes to networking. Fast paced networking builds shallow relationships that offer little or nothing to the value of your business. On the other hand, patient networkers build deep, long-lasting relationships that significantly impact the growth of their business. Establishing a network that has depth far exceeds one that is shallow and frail.
- Work for it: Nothing in life worth having comes easy without hard work. Networking is the same. That is why it’s not called NET-SIT or NET-EAT. Building relationships takes time, effort and energy. It also takes commitment and dedication to the process. However, the reward of such hard work will be beyond what we can even imagine.
- Say thank you: Saying “thank you” shows your gratitude, expresses your appreciation and further solidifies the relationship. I can assure you that a written note of thanks for the efforts of a referral partner will enhance the possibilities of that person referring you again.
- Follow up: One huge component of networking is following up and, more importantly, doing it consistently. Meeting people and building relationships means very little if we never bother to follow up with them. Collecting business cards and not bothering to follow up with the people is just a waste of time.