Steps to Networking – Step 89: SURVEY SAYS — NETWORKING DOS

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 19th, 2010


“When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him: ‘Whose?’” DON MARQUIS, HUMORIST

In our research for this book, we surveyed a wide range of experienced networkers to uncover what they considered the most essential requirements for successful networking. The top, most frequently expressed responses are listed below. Please note that the list below does not place the responses that we received in the order that the respondents indicated were the most important. Instead, they have been arranged to provide a logical, orderly sequence that tracks the networking process.

1. Believe that networking will work. Unless you are truly convinced you’re your networking efforts will help you succeed, you will waste everyone’s time. Networking requires a positive attitude. A positive attitude will energize you and those around you. Positive energy translates into enthusiasm, which is contagious. When you believe in what you are doing, others will be inspired. Your belief in your cause will convince them to help you and to spread your message to others.

People sense when you are not a true believer; they know when they are being jobbed. Savvy networkers will avoid you because they prefer to deal with those who share their faith in networking rather than wasting their time with those who are insincere and do not. People are usually eager to help; they receive satisfaction from helping others succeed and if they believe you, they will help.

2. Target the right audience. Approach individuals who can provide what you seek or who can direct you to those who can. Spend time carefully selecting and researching your targets. Then make a plan to meet them.

If you plan to join groups and/or attend events, select those that target the people you want to reach. Get involved with several different network groups because a single group may not be able to satisfy all your needs, but don’t spread yourself too thin. Sample different organizations and events in order to meet a different cross section of people, but give them a chance. Circulating your name widely, putting it in play in a number of arenas, can be extremely helpful.

3. Make a strong first impression. Always put your best foot forward. Be well groomed, dress appropriately and be well prepared. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression and a bad first impression can be ruinous.

Dress appropriately for those you hope to impress. Have a great sound bite, know your stuff and be prepared to reel it off at any time and with confidence. Have a longer description about you or your business down pat that you can quickly recite in the event you are asked about it.

4. Network with those you emulate. Don’t be afraid to approach people who you admire and who inspire you. Soot for the top. Meeting those who have achieved your goals gives you a blueprint to learn from and follow. Aim high and seek out those who will help you develop and grow. People at the top can be generous with their help and usually are flattered that you admire and seek their assistance.

While shooting for the top, don’t abandon your peers. Your peers can teach you and be supportive. They can act as sounding boards and champion your causes. So continue and nurture peer friendships.

5. Talk to everyone you meet. Don’t discount or overlook any one. Be genuinely friendly. People remember your kindnesses to them and will go out of their way reciprocate. When you give of yourself, even it it’s only by talking to someone briefly, you re enhancing the possibility of building a relationship and getting something back.

Develop a wide circle of friends and acquaintances from diverse fields. They will fill in your gaps and bring you to new and exciting areas that can broaden your life.

6. Learn to read people. Pay close attention and become skilled at sensing people’s needs. Learn to recognize who will give and who will only take. Trust your instincts and when they prove correct, increase your reliance on them. Learn to avoid those who only want to take because they will drain your time and energy. Plus, they are not individuals with whom you want to associate or be affiliated.

7. Listen. Pay carefully attention to what others say. Listen and observe more than talk. Listening can be an acquired skill, so work on becoming a good listener.

Be a good audience and learn about those with whom you speak. Come away knowing one thing they like and one thing they dislike. If you keep them chatting about themselves, they will think you are one of the most interesting people they have met. Ask about their accomplishments before you tell them about yours. Be interested and curious. Don’t take yourself too seriously, but take others very seriously.

8. Be willing to help. Give, give, give. Networking is a two way street. Offer your help freely and generously. Think first about how you can help others. When others realize that you are willing to help them and how generous you are, they will be eager to help you. Always keep your contacts’ needs in mind and be alert for leads for your network partners. Go the extra mile to provide something special before asking for anything in return. Remember, networking is not only about you.

“The core of networking is finding out how you can help others achieve their goals,” according to Dave Sherman, who bills himself as “The Networking Guy.” “The reason most people are not successful networkers is that they prospect, instead of networking. Prospecting is the process of finding people to sell your product or service to. Networking is being a valuable business and personal resource for others and EXPECTING NOTHING IN RETURN. The people that give the most will ALWAYS receive the most.”

9. Be prepared. Become an expert, be able to provide insightful answers to questions on your field. Know about the places and situations in which you place yourself. Prepare by reading everything. Decide beforehand whom you want to meet and what benefits you would like to receive. Carry and hand out plenty of cards and literature about you and your business.

Continue to learn, grow and strive for success. Focus on building relationships and being rich in the resources of people. Also strive to fill the needs of others because, in time, you will reap the benefits. The benefits may not be the benefits you expect; they may be better and more satisfying. Make sure you’re having fun.

10. Find common denominators. Common denominators are the thread that connects network partners. Without common interests, objective or and values, bonds cannot be created. And without bonds, solid and meaningful networks cannot be built.

Connect in your mind anything that your contacts may have in common and then build upon those similarities. Common interests, backgrounds and experiences make ideal ice breakers and pave the way to building deeper, more lasting relationships.

11. Bring value. Always have ideas, suggestions and insights to share. Help the other person out first; don’t wait for them to give you a lead or connection.

Be prepared to happily give without return. Be prepared to happily give more than your share, more than is expected. Gain a reputation for generously giving value and you will never be alone or unappreciated.

12. Be honest, courteous and fair. Deliver what you promise and when you can, deliver more. Don’t exaggerate or claim to be what you’re not. Deliver on time, call on time and show up on time. Become known for your reliability and dependability. Show others that they can always count on you.

Treat everyone fairly and build a good reputation. Always be fair and ethical, it will gain you respect, admiration and tons of repeat business. Treat everyone with courtesy and respect and you will be treated with courtesy and respect in return. Build a great reputation. A terrific reputation is a commodity that endures, but that can be lost by just one lapse.

13. Follow up. After you first meet, keep in touch in a creative way. Send special notes or postcards, ones that have significance to topics you discussed. Write information about your contact’s interests on the back of their business card. Then send them articles or information related to their interests.

Be quick to express your gratitude. Thank people for helping you and let them know how much you appreciate their aid with handwritten thank-you notes, emails, phone calls or gifts. Distinguish yourself by promptly expressing your thanks.

14. Keep referrers informed. As you build relationships, keep your network referrers in the loop. Let them know when you set up a meeting and fill them in on your progress. If you land a project, call them at once. And at each new step, express your thanks.

Remember that those who have helped you have a stake in the outcome of introductions or connections they made on your behalf. By keeping them informed, you will be keeping them on your team and keeping them involved, where you can draw on their help and support.

15. Look at the big picture. Try to see past the momentary, day-by-day activities that occupy your life and build toward your overall, life-time objectives. Sometimes taking nothing or less today will position you to gain far more tomorrow. Often, sacrificing today, will provide you with future benefits that will be far more meaningful. Enlarge your perspective so to see beyond the immediate and constantly reexamine your long-term goals.

(Excerpted from NETWORKING MAGIC: Making Connections That Will Change Your Life By Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin With Mark Steisel)

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