Networking is more than simply connecting with colleagues on LinkedIn. While this type of connection has its benefits (more on that later), building a diverse, valuable network should be more like dating than selling. Here are some of our favorite suggestions for productive networking.
In this digital age, it is easy to overlook the power of connecting in person. Body language, tone, or even style are impossible to determine online. Start by joining your local Chamber of Commerce, an industry-specific organization, or volunteer at a non-profit.
Organizations hold events for their members like golf outings, wine tastings, or even speed networking! Events allow you to meet many new and interesting people at once. Always come prepared with a unique elevator speech explaining what you do. You’ll find that once your network is wide enough, you will become a resource for yourself and others. Perhaps your client needs a realtor, and you know an agent who would be the perfect fit. The possibilities are endless.
Make Yourself Memorable
There are many ways to make yourself memorable. You can wear brightly colored glasses, tell exciting travel stories, or bring up interesting topics of conversation. If you aren’t outspoken, that’s okay. Pay attention to important details and bring them up later to show you are interested. The key is to be authentic!
Take Notes & Research
It is human nature to want to feel special. For example, you meet folks at a wine tasting and note that your ideal client enjoys wine from a California vineyard. You get their contact info and invite them to a BYOB dinner, bringing the wine they liked for the meal. Talk about making a memorable impact! Perhaps a new connection mentioned that they love Bruce Springsteen. Next time the Boss is in town, have four tickets hand-delivered to their office.
The internet can also be a treasure trove of information. Take a deep dive into the company you’d like to work with, flagging a few key employees. Check out their interests on social media or what causes they support and file them away for conversation fodder in the future.
Keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date, and yes, that includes your photo. Add colleagues and social connections for maxim impact.
Do you have a specific client you want to collaborate with? LinkedIn can be a helpful tool! Check your network and see if you already have any connections in common. If you don’t have any, add a few of their coworkers. Once they accept, connect with the client you’re interested in. If you add them out of the blue, they might ignore you, but if they see you share connections, they are more likely to accept.
Follow these tips and tricks to take your networking to the next level. Let’s wrap up with wise words from Octo’s founder, Wendy Verna:
“My networking advice is to start each day with your “why.” Remember, your “why” is not what you want; it is why you do what you do. When you network to fulfill your “why” rather than make a sale, you will be pulled into the right opportunities instead of pushing yourself into them.”