What is Networking
You acquaint with a person or a group of people who are like minded and can mutually benefit with resources that they will use otherwise can go wasted. Interact with others and exchange information to create business, social, economical, political and even personal opportunities. Let’s take examples of business networking and social networking. Effective networking is an important tool for your professional and business success.
Business networking is effective networking method used to create contacts with the decision maker. Business networking used to be done through face to face. Now there are many platforms available. Trade shows are a great example to understand business networking.
Social networking is a way to build social relationships with each other. You are invited to a party where you see a person who has a play station 1 which is discontinued by Sony, but it has your favorite game. You approach to the person, introduce yourself and play that game for the rest of your life. Digital marketing tools like Facebook,Twitter,Whatsapp and many others are also great examples of social networking.
Networking is a long-term goal
All of us should know that it is not a short term goal and a onetime process. The benefits of effective networking are recurring.
Warren Buffet who is one of the richest men in the world donated $2.84 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation last year. Do you know that both first met through Meg Greenfield, who was Washington Post editor then on July 5, 1991 ? It is 2016 and Bill Gates calls Warrant Buffet his best friend.
Networking is a Below the Line Advertising
What is below the line advertising? It is a one to one approach of selling your product. Pamphlet, Free samples and brochures are examples of below the line advertising. You should remember this while planning the most effective networking and taking actions. You sent an email to the person you want to network or you messaged them on Linkedin also indicates that it is a below the line advertising method. It is a direct way of communication. The way you speak to people, the way you dress up, the way you present your product and yourself will affect your networking.
First, Decide Who You Should Network With
You should always know what type of networking you want. Your personal and business goal will help you decide that. If you are a dancer then you would like to network with theatre owner who runs a dance show every Friday night. Here is something you should learn from Chanakya. Chanakya was an Indian teacher, philosopher, economist, jurist and royal advisor.
Identify What Sets You Apart
Whenever you are at an event and want to network most important thing to remember is the things that set you apart. It can be industry trends that you are networking for or latest technology that you like (Internet of Things, Bitcoin, Gender Equality are few examples). You must be best in that. Use your best thing to your advantage and lead a certain number of people who are interested to know more and just more. You can always research prior to the event. Find out who are the key people attending the event. Connect with them on Linkedin and talk about their interest on this professional networking site. Create an atmosphere to your advantage for the D-day.
Digital Tools You Can Use to Network
LinkedIn: According to latest data 1 in 3 professionals are on Linkedin. If you include a photo in your profile you will have 10-14 times more chances to be viewed. If you have a business to business offering then there is no better platform than LinkedIn. Create a LinkedIn account today, Join groups related to your business and participate in the discussion. According to Dorie Clark, It is important that you become known for your idea and business.
Weave: How do you like the idea of someone asking from you if you are available to meet on Friday or Saturday this week to people you prefer to network with? You will get an email telling you Whom to meet, Where to meet and What time to meet. It is a community which is invite only. You can apply for membership. It will help you to meet people who want to meet you and are perfect match for each other professionally. It can be great tool for you especially if you are a startup.
Twitter: Solvoguru does not advise you to use it separately. You should twitter to know about people who you want to network with are talking about. Twitter’s advance search is a very strong tool to use. You can customize the search according to your requirement. Contribute into the topic which adds value and then ask them to provide more useful information and show them how you share same interest and values that he/she is looking for. Ask for their emails/contact information and then follow up, but remember networking like relationship is also built brick by brick.
Rapportive: It is a plugin for Gmail. You can find it in apps for your chrome browser. It is a good tool to find out more about your email contact. You can have their profile details on LinkedIn with picture, employment details, mutual contacts and location. All of this information can help you build a rapport with your email contact.
Let’s Lunch: Like Rapportive this app also helps you to exploit your LinkedIn profile. It arranges meetings with you and the people you are interested in to meet. The objective of this app is to help you to build a smart network of people.
Personal Tools to use for networking
It is not a secret. If you are a professional or a business owner, you already have a business card. Always use that. Do you know business cards are viewed differently in different culture (We will need to write a new blog on this topic). Your card should be eye catching and should talk about you and your business.
Packaging for effective networking
If you are selling a product then you can use the packaging of your product as a networking tool. If you already know you want to network with the customer that just ordered from you then put information about your business, contact details, social media account and other useful information when you send your product to him/her.
There are trade shows for every product/service now a day. Here is an example of the Top 100 events for all industry worldwide. It can be hard for somebody to participate in world level trade shows because of many different reasons. Find out local events near your business. Join the group and participate. Something is always better than nothing.
Use present resources
You need to fix your car. Do you have a contact of mechanic? What do you do? You ask from your wife or your brother or your dad to know where they did repair their cars. In a few minutes, you found a trusted mechanic. The same method can be used to find a way to network with anybody. Ask for connections from your friends, family and someone who is working in the related company. They would be more than happy to help.
Do the same for others
Networking is not a one way road. Others want as much as help you want from them. Be a giver and you will receive more than that. Follow up with your referrals, tell them that you are ready to help them and not only tell, but also show them. Share information that is useful for others. You should be friendly and be approachable to others. Find out if anybody needs your help.
The best way to get invited to the party is to host the party
Create an effective networking platform of your own. Invite the people you want to network with by telling them that they can network with the people who they want to network with and invite industry leaders too. Host a dinner party for experts in your industry. This is a perfect way to be the center of attention. Have a large enough place to hold the event. Dominate the event by leading the discussion, set the topics of discussion and ask guests to bring information about them and their products/services. Make sure that they fill out the sign-up form with name, profession, contact details and all other information that you will need.
Effective networking is not just a business
Business networking is about business, but your short term goal should not be. Ask people different questions. Be curious about their hobbies, which football team is their favorite, what interests them and then find the common ground. You can follow them in 1 week and tell them that their football team has a match in your city and they are welcome to come by for a dinner anytime.