When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re always at work, you’re always open for business and you’re always looking for ways to connect with potential partners. One question we’re always asking ourselves is: how do I network effectively? (Effectively meaning that our conversations lead to meaningful (and profitable) connections.)
You do not have to be at an official “networking event” to network. In fact, you should set an intention to connect with like-minded people who could enhance your brand everywhere you go. One thing you want to avoid, however, is coming across as fake, phony or too needy when you meet someone. To avoid that, use these four ways to establish a genuine connection, upgrade your network and network effectively.
Find the Common Denominator
What do you have in common? There could be a common interest, common goal or you may have a common industry. Find a way to link your business with theirs in order to establish a clear connection. On the other hand, your connection could be as simple as having a mutual friend, being from the same home state or attending rival colleges. The world is small enough to find a connection with almost anyone. The 6 degrees of separation rule is real; use it to your advantage.
Be a Benefit
Figure out the best way to establish a mutually beneficial partnership before approaching the potential partner. If you are very interested in meeting someone but aren’t sure how you could work together, offer support. Use your willingness to serve and support others as your strength. Let it be known that you would be happy to be involved with their upcoming projects or invite your network to their event. People very rarely turn down help. Being helpful is a great way to make a lasting impression if you really want to network effectively.
Please break the habit of giving out your cards and leaving empty handed. Show that you are truly interested in connecting by asking for their card in exchange for yours. If they don’t have a card, at least follow them on a few social networks because nobody is going to turn down a new follower. If they make it clear that they don’t want to give you their card, they obviously don’t want to do business with you so you won’t need their card anyway. Know when to cut your losses and move on. Everybody won’t want to connect; thank them for saving you time and energy chasing them down in the future. It’s their loss anyway.
It’s impossible to network effectively if you don’t follow up. Nearly 95% of the people you meet will not follow up. Stand out from the crowd by making a habit of following up within 24 hours of meeting. A simple follow up can be a quick email reminding them of who you are and where you met and letting them know you’re excited to support their future projects and work together on something special soon. If you have an upcoming project or event, this is a great time to share that information and solicit support.
Use these tips everywhere you go to connect with new partners, reach new clients and establish genuine connections. Remember that your network determines your net worth, so choose your new partners wisely.