Effective networking can reap rewards for your business but the key is not to focus on the money. Follow our top tips to learn how to get the most out of networking and turn this marketing tool into a powerful part of your business success.
If you’ve fallen out of love with networking, the chances are you’re doing it wrong! We can all make the mistake of choosing networking events based on what we think we will get out of it but if you start by thinking about how much business you’ll get, it’s likely not to work!
The essence of strong networking is about finding a group and a community of people that you feel comfortable being around and who you are able to contribute to… yes we said ‘contribute to’, not ‘get from’!
The key to effective networking lies in having a genuine desire to be part of and support a business community. When you take a proactive approach to sharing knowledge, skills and resources you build a reputation as someone who can be relied upon. That makes you a ‘go to’ person – your number is on speed dial and your name is the one that gets mentioned first when it comes to referrals and recommendations.
So, how do you get to be that person everyone recommends through networking? Well, we’ve compiled some top tips for you to follow.
Let’s start by thinking about the traits or behaviours of people who have made networking really work for them. In a previous blog, we talked about the 7 traits of successful networkers and it’s well worth a read to discover what makes networking work so well for them. We’ve summed them up for you here:
Be open-minded – Good networkers recognise that there are more benefits to networking than just business opportunities. Make friends – Treat your fellow networkers as future friends rather than work acquaintances – make sure you smile!
Believe – Guess what? If you’re cynical, reticent and hold back others will treat you the same!
Get Organised and Be Prepared – You might be feeling nervous, stressed, tired or all of the above but it is important to appear unflustered and in control.
Be Authentic – The best networkers focus on building rapport rather than pitching their business.
Be Bold – Being willing to step out of your comfort zone, to try new things and happily embrace new ideas and suggestions will get you a long way in the networking world.
Be Enthusiastic – When you put your energy into something you stand a much better chance of succeeding.
- Be open-minded – Good networkers recognise that there are more benefits to networking than just business opportunities.
- Make friends – Treat your fellow networkers as future friends rather than work acquaintances – make sure you smile!
- Believe – Guess what? If you’re cynical, reticent and hold back others will treat you the same!
- Get Organised and Be Prepared – You might be feeling nervous, stressed, tired or all of the above but it is important to appear unflustered and in control.
- Be Authentic – The best networkers focus on building rapport rather than pitching their business.
- Be Bold – Being willing to step out of your comfort zone, to try new things and happily embrace new ideas and suggestions will get you a long way in the networking world.
- Be Enthusiastic – When you put your energy into something you stand a much better chance of succeeding.
How can you develop yourself to incorporate the above traits and build a solid reputation as a valued networker and someone other want to do business with? To begin with you need a plan. We produced a blog recently with a ‘step-by-step guide to creating a networking plan’.
Start by asking yourself 5 key questions:
- What traits do you currently have that can help you develop your networking?
- How can you bring those into play more in your networking meetings?
- What actions do you need to commit to in order to achieve this? At the very least write these down but if possible share them with someone who will check in your progress on them
- How will you measure the success of these actions?
- Who needs to know about this/support you?
The key factor in developing strong business relationships is, and always will be, trust. You can start to build a trustworthy persona through simple actions such as arriving early, being warm and welcoming and appearing calm and relaxed (even if you feel nervous inside!). Make sure you are prepared for presentations and concise with facts too as this is also crucial to your professional authenticity and reliability. If you’ve ever observed a professional networker you’ll see that this is where they excel. They create relationships that deliver time and time again. Connections become more like friends and introductions flow much more readily and smoothly.
Being a valued connection and ‘Go To’ person will build your reputation within your business community, open many doors for you and strengthen your business relationships undoubtedly leading to business success.
Follow the Opendoorz Top Five Tips to achieving networking success in 2022.
- Be prepared to commit time and energy to making an investment in others.
- Adopt good behaviours and be consistent in applying them.
- Recognise this is not a short-term activity, it’s an ongoing strategy.
- Ditch any hidden agendas – you must genuinely want to make a difference and support others.
- Enjoy the experience of making a difference and let it become a fundamental part of what you’re known for.
At Opendoorz, we put great emphasis on facilitating our members to develop their professional relationships and really get to know each other. One on one insight meetings, showcases, continuous professional development sessions and creating a trusted space for open and honest discussion are all part of the regular structure of Opendooz and it one of the reasons are members stay with us for such a long time.
Opendoorz currently runs 7 groups across Oxfordshire with more than 100 members, all of whom are business owners or directors. With new groups planned for 2022, growth is definitely on the agenda!
And if you needed proof that our approach to professional networking with a ‘grown up’ mentality works. Well, since Opendoorz launched our members have passed more then £7.5 million worth of business between them ( but obviously it’s not all about the money!).
If you’d like to experience the Opendoorz difference for yourself, why not join us for a guest meeting? https://opendoorz.biz/networking-events-oxfordshire/