When people set out to network, they may be thinking about the benefits they will receive, such as new clients and increased business. To get the most out of your networking, however, you need to build trust and relationships between the people you are networking with. The following are some tips to help you in this process.
Always be genuine and authentic when you are networking. The people you are networking with need to get to know you in order to trust you. If they do not feel that you are being yourself, they may be wary of forming a relationship with you.
Determine Your Goals
What do you want out of your networking experience? Do you want to make contacts, learn new skills or something else? Do you want to network locally or via the internet? Knowing what you want will help you determine which groups are best for you to join.
Join Several Groups
Joining several groups will help you broaden the spectrum of your networking relationships. To create a wide networking circle, you may want to join both local and online groups.
Give It Time
It may take time to build up a network of business associates. Keep participating in the group and get to know people. Relationships take time to develop.
Ask Open-ended Questions
When having a conversation with someone from your networking group, ask open-ended questions instead of questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no”. This will keep the conversation flowing and let people know you are interested in them.
Position yourself as a powerful resource by helping others. Share leads and referrals with those in your networking group. The people you help will appreciate your efforts and return the favor.
Ask for Referrals
Make sure the people in your networking group know what you do for a living. Ask them for referrals. A referral is the name of someone who is in need of your services. A referral is a “hot lead”; the person who gives you the referral should call the referral and let them know you will be getting in touch with them. While some people may automatically give you referrals, that won’t always be the case. If you don’t ask for them, you may not receive them.
When you are given a referral, follow up in a timely manner. Call or email the referral as soon as possible and let them know who you are, the name of the person that referred you to them, and the services you offer. The referral will surely report back to the referrer; if you did not handle yourself professionally, you won’t be getting any more referral from that person.
Julianne Alvarez-Wish is a military wife, mother, homeschooling mom, business owner, professional writer, blogger and legislative advocate. She is the Colorado State Leader for the National Association for Moms in Business and the owner of The Wish Place. She is the Colorado Springs Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner for Examiner.com. She also blogs at A Wishful Thought. Her passion, purpose and goal is to help parents work from home so they can be home with their children.