With the holidays upon us, most companies look for ways to show appreciation to their customers, vendors and or suppliers. It serves as an opportunity to give thanks and do some additional networking.
In today’s social media world, networking has never been easier, but is trying to hit the masses effective? In our industry, social media is becoming more important in communicating what we are doing, highlighting our accomplishments and in recruiting and retaining employees. However, social media networking does not substitute the personal touch and relationship building needed for tangible results.
Over the years I have found that thinking of others first is not only key to effective networking but a great principle to follow in life. The most effective networkers are those who are sincere and genuinely care about helping others. They are always doing it. In return, when they need something, people will bend over backwards to help them. To have that kind of loyalty, you invest the time in getting to know others personally and professionally.
There is never a better time to start improving on your networking abilities than during the holidays when there is already a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving. Be proactive and engage with those that are important to you. Invest your time in them and look for ways to give. By doing this, you will not only greatly improve your networking effectiveness, but also make the world a better place.
Here are 5 ideas for a more effective networking approach:
Prioritize your network
- The Elite Few – These are the most important people who can positively impact your business. They are the ones you keep in regular contact with. Every encounter needs to be meaningful and mutually beneficial.
- Your Secondary Tier – This is a much larger group, 50-100 people who have influence in the market and who you have possibly worked with in the past. You may not know these individuals as much as the Elite Few, but it is important to keep in contact with them.
- The Rest – Do not neglect this group! This group tends to be a very large number of contacts (several thousand). Because of the large size of this group, using social media is an effective form of communication. Out of this group you are always on the lookout for the next elite.
Connect through helping others
Spend time getting to know the individual, their interests, hobbies, professional needs, desires and concerns. This knowledge will serve as a road map as to how you can best support them. Everyone needs help with something. Remember to give first and ask second!
When wanting to connect with a new contact, you must find ways to get their attention. This takes research and an understanding of what your competitors may be saying or providing. Be creative and unique.
Identify future leaders & influencers
For long-term success, you need to look past current positions and titles and find individuals who are smart, motivated and interesting. They are the ones in the next 5-10 years who will be making things happen. It’s much easier to break in with younger professionals than with the current establishment.
Be sincere and generous
If your approach is calculating with an attitude of expecting something in return, then people will see through it. Networking is about helping each other, and it starts with you.
Enjoy the rich experiences and relationships that come from effective networking!