The Federal Bureau of Labor published a study a few years back that showed 70% of all new business comes from some form of networking. What other motivation do you need to start?
Below are fifty thoughts to help you on your way. Before you read on, remember: if you think you're poor at networking, don't worry, you're not alone. It's not a skill we are born with but one we have to learn.
1. Come to every networking event with three great questions ready to go. Be sure they begin with, "What's the one thing?" "What's your favorite?" and "What was the best part about?"
2. No matter where you go – the mall, church, out to dinner, the gym - have at least five business cards with you.
3. Be able to give an unforgettable personal introduction in 10 seconds, 30 seconds and 60 seconds.
4. When someone on the phone says, "May I ask who's calling?" get excited. Say something unique that makes that person say, "Um, okay...please hold." Be unexpected. Be cool. Be memorable.
5. Get Google alerts on yourself, your company, your area of expertise and your competition. If you don't know what a Google alert is, just Google it.
6. Networking isn't selling, marketing or cold calling. It's the development and maintenance of mutually valuable relationships. Don't mix these things up.
7. The most important four letters in the word "networking" are w-o-r-k, because that's exactly what it takes.
8. If you give your business card to somebody and they don't reply, "Hey, cool card!" get a new card.
9. When attending networking events, come early. Check out the nametags. See if you know anybody, or find people you'd like to meet.
10. Sit in the back so you can scan the room for specific people you'd like to connect with.
11. Email articles of interest, links or other cool stuff of value, (not spam), to people you've met.
12. Publish a newsletter or ezine. Interview people from your network and feature them as experts. They will take ownership of their inclusion and spread that publication to everyone they know.
13. Spend one hour a week reading and commenting on other people's blogs. If you don't know what a blog is, you're in trouble.
14. When you read an article you like, email the author. Tell him what you liked about it and introduce yourself. He'll usually write back.
15. Have an awesome email signature that gives people a reason to click over to your website. Just be careful not to have too much information included.
16. Get involved with social networking sites like LinkdIn, MySpace and Squidoo.
17. Remember that networking doesn't have to be in person. The Internet is a great place to connect with people just like you! It's called Internetworking. (Yep, I made that word up.)
18. Make your own words up. It's really fun.
19. Have business lunches at least once a week.
20. Attend local events once a month.
21. Figure out where your target market hangs out (online and offline). Then hang out there.
22. Create your own regular "business hangout," like a copy or coffee shop where you can regularly be found working, networking, reading or connecting with other professionals.
23. Talk to everybody. Don't sell them; don't probe them, just make friends. Make friends with everybody. Because people buy people first.
24. Take volunteer positions with organizations that are relevant to your industry. Be a visible leader to whom others can come to for help.
25. Every time you meet someone, write the letters H-I-C-H on their business card: how I can help. Then think of five ways to do so.
26. Go to Borders and spend one day a month reading books on networking, interpersonal communication and marketing. I highly recommend The Power of Approachability and How to be That Guy. (I hear the author is super cool.)
27. Publish articles or a blog or both based around your expertise. Use titles such as "Top Ten Ways," "Essential Elements" and "Success Secrets," that grab the reader's attention. Publish them on www.blogger.com and www.ezinearticles.com.
28. Be funny, but don't tell jokes.
29. Discover the CPI (Common Point of Interest) with everyone you meet.
30. Carry blank business cards with you in case someone forgot theirs. They'll thank you.
31. Never leave the house without a pen and paper. Sounds dumb, right? It isn't. It's genius. Nobody keeps napkins with scribblings on them.
32. Every week, introduce two people you know who need to know each other.
33. Wear your nametag above your breastbone and make sure it's visible from 10 feet away. Nobody cares what side of your chest it's on. Just make it big. And if you don't like wearing nametags, then you probably don't like people knowing who you are, either.
34. It's not who you know – it's who knows you.
35. People will like you the minute they figure out how they are like you.
36. Fear not to entertain strangers for by so doing some may have entertained angels unaware. (Hebrews, 13:2)
37. If you don't have www.yourname.com, get it. It's ten bucks.
38. Find local professionals with whom you share common interests, customers, ideas and products. Introduce yourself to them, get together, share ideas and find ways to help each other.
39. Form a mastermind group. No more than four people. Meet regularly to set goals, keep each other accountable and brainstorm.
40. Also, set your own networking goals each month for:
- Events to attend
- People to meet
- Emails to write
- Calls to make
- Articles/physical mail to send
41. Go onto Google and type in "articles on networking." Read on!
42. Speaking of Google, Google yourself regularly. Find out what people are saying about you. If you don't show up, you're in trouble.
43. If you think you don't need to network, you are right. You don't need to network: you must network!
44. Stop calling it networking. Ignore the title of this article. Networking – as a word – is tired and old and cliché and it makes people think you're throwing around a bunch of cards trying to sell, sell, sell. No. All you're doing is making friends. Not schmoozing, mingling or any of those stupid catch phrases. You're making friends. That's it. Friends. Make them every day.
45. If you think you are poor at networking, don't worry. You're not alone. But also remember that anyone can develop their networking skills. That's right, skills. Because it's not something you're born with or just plain "good at." Anyone can do it effectively. You simply need:
- To develop the attitude of approachability
- To read books on the subject
- To practice
46. When strangers ask, "How are you?" don't say fine. You're not fine. Nobody's fine. Give a real answer that's memorable and magnetic. I suggest, "Business is kicking ass!" or "Everything is beautiful!"
47. When someone asks where you're from, don't just say "Austin." Use the H.O.T technique: "Oh, I'm from Austin, home of the best college football team in the country." Get creative. Get unique. Watch what happens.
48. Put your person before your profession. Your personality before your position. Your individual before your industry.
49. Don't be different – be unique. Don't be friendly – be approachable. And don't be memorable – be unforgettable.
50. Think about the last five "luckiest" business contacts you encountered. Figure out what you did right, realize that there is no such thing as luck, then repeat as often as possible.