Creating a solid network of individuals in your sphere of influence will help you be successful in the long term. This is a six step process to creating a quality network of people willing to help you.
Meet Face to Face
When meeting people at an event, you develop an impression about the kind of person they are and what the best type of relationship you should develop with them. In person meetings allow you to share non verbal communication in a way that email cannot.
Meeting in online social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace does not generate the same kind of connection. Many people use social media to generate the first point of contact, but these tools are much better suited for followup and relationship management.
When making connections online, call them to establish rapport. Talking makes a better impression than email and is much longer lasting.
Networking is a pay it forward opportunity where you give back before receiving. A closed fist receives no money, and it is after providing a helping hand that people will go out of their way to help you
Business networking is a chance to connect with others and learn about them and their needs; and then figure out how you might be able to help them. Now in order for you to be able to come through, you need to listen to what the other person says. During a conversation, the other party often shares personal details with you.
Look for some common grounds based on your experience and history. Connect, promise assistance, and deliver on your promises.
After investing time, energy and money to attend an event following up is the most important action.
The business networking process has 3 major steps: Pre-Networking Planning/Goal Setting, Networking, and Following up.
For best results, be diligent throughout the whole process. Follow up and connect with the people you meet at an event in an unobtrusive manner. Reach out to them within 24-48 hours by phone or email, plan a short gathering for coffee or lunch, and be ready to learn more about the individual and the professional.
This is the next step to take the relationship beyond just having them as one of your connections in your contact manager.
Everyone needs help with something, and if you can offer your expert assistance in time of need, your contacts will not forget this.
By proactively offering assistance you become the default go to person for the next project.
After following up by phone and possibly a brief meeting, find a way to keep in touch and on their radar. Facebook and LinkedIn are invaluable to maintain these connections.
Be active in updating your status while checking your connections’ status updates, links, blogs, announcements… interact with them, comment on their blogs, send relevant information and offer helpful suggestions.
Periodically go through the list of your connections and update the information. Reevaluate what kind of relationship you wish to have, their potential, and how much time and energy to invest.
At this step you will know which connections will have the most impact on your business.
Remember to go into relationships with an open hand. What are tips that have helped you build your network?