Successful networking is more about exhibiting consistent, long-term behavior, rather than possessing a complex skill set. There’s more to networking than shaking hands and passing out business cards. Networking is about building social capital over the long term. It’s about cultivating relationships with other business professionals. It’s more about farming than it is about hunting.
10. Work Your Network. It’s not net-sit or net-eat, it’s net work! Master networkers don’t let any opportunity to work their networks pass them by. They manage their contacts with contact management software. Organize their email address files and carry their referral partner’s business cards as well as their own. They set up appointments to get better acquainted with new contacts so that they can learn as much about them as possible so they can truly become part of each other’s network.
9. Sincerity. Insincerity is like a cake without frosting. You can offer the help, the thanks, the listening ear, but if you aren’t sincere; if you’re not sincerely interested in the other person, they will know it. Those who have developed successful networking skills convey their sincerity at every turn. One of the best ways to develop this trait is to give the individual with whom you are developing a referral relationship with your undivided attention.
8. Pay it Forward / Enjoy Helping Others. Helping others can be done in a variety of ways; from literally showing up to help with an office move to clipping a helpful and interesting article and mailing it to an associate or a client. Master Networkers keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities to advance other people’s interests, whenever they can.
7. Thankful and Grateful. Gratitude is sorely lacking in today’s business world. Expressing gratitude to business associates and clients is just another building block in the cultivation of relationships that will lead to increased referrals. People like to refer others to business professionals that go above and beyond. Thanking others at every opportunity will help you stand out from the crowd.
6. Always Networking. Master networkers are never ‘off duty.’ Networking is so natural to them they can be found networking in the grocery store line, at the doctor’s office, and while picking up the kids from school as well as at the Chamber mixers and other networking meetings.
5. Good Listening Skills. Our success as networkers depends on how well we can listen and learn. The faster you and your networking partner learn what you need to know about each other, the faster you’ll establish a valuable relationship. Communicate well and listen well.
4. Trustworthy. When you refer one person to another, you’re putting your reputation on the line. You have to be able to trust your referral partner and be trusted in return. Neither you, nor anyone else will refer a contact or valuable information to someone who can’t be trusted to handle it well.
3. Passion / Enthusiasm / Motivation. Think about the people you know; who gets the most referrals? People who show the most motivation, right? It’s been said that the best sales characteristic is enthusiasm. To be respected within our networks, we at least need to sell ourselves with enthusiasm. Once we’ve done an effective job in selling ourselves, we’ll be able to reap the reward of seeing our contacts sell us to others. That is motivation, in and of itself!
2. Have a Positive Attitude. A consistently negative attitude makes people dislike being around you and drives away referrals. A positive attitude make people want to associate with you and cooperate with you. Positive business professionals are like magnets! Others want to be around them and will send their friends, family, associates to them.
1. Follow Up…Follow Up… Follow Up on Referrals. If you present an opportunity, whether it is a simple piece of information, a special contact or a qualified business referral to someone who consistently fails to follow up successfully, it’s no secret that you’ll eventually stop wasting your time with this person.
All these traits tie into long-term relationship building, not stalking the prey for the “big kill. “ People who take the time to build their social capital are the ones who will have new business referred to them over and over. The key is to build mutually beneficial business relationships. Only then will you succeed as a master networker.