More jobs are probably not advertised but filled through networking, inside contacts, and word-of-mouth. We all know by now it’s a critical component in order to succeed in the web industry. Why else would social networking sites like Twitter flourish? Why else would people care about how many followers they have?
And yet, despite its necessity to our continual success with key benefits such as opportunities, exposure, contacts and learning opportunites, most of us are afraid of networking. To make things worst, in Asia countries networking is often being associated with being a sales-person.
Here are some tips we can adopt to supercharge our networking efforts.
1. Just make friends
Instead of trying to “network” and end up not satisfied with your performance, why don’t you go out and make a new friend? Think of networking as helping someone resolve their problems or pointing them to a correct resource.
Networking isn’t scary. It’s just making friends and helping people.
2. Set yourself goals
Before the start of any networking event or even online discussion, you can set some goals to help you establish the following:
- Who you need to know, and who needs to know you?
- Who are the decision makers and key influencers?
- How can I get into their cicles of network?
- What is it you want from these events
Identify potential contacts. These are people with influence in your niche whose ideals and personality fit yours. Have a few targeted, engaging questions prepared ahead of time. Focus on their interests, career path, the things they like/dislike about their job, advice they may have, etc.
While researching the people you want to meet, research the event itself as well. You’ll feel more comfortable and confident if you are prepared. We have to agree that networking is not a natural ability but a skill that takes time and practice to perfect.
4. Approach smaller groups
You might be tempted or drawn to join the largest, most lively group immediately in a networking event. Instead, look for smaller groups of three-four people – you stand a better chance of engaging in real, honest conversation and forging lasting relationships.
This approach works in online networking efforts as well.
To have purposeful conversations with as many potential connections as possible, keep each engagement to less than five minutes and exit ‘gracefully’.
5. Be a good listener
Here’s one important concept to meeting people: most people want to talk. They’ve got success stories or a problem (or several), and they’re all too happy to unload that information. Thus in a nutshell, be a listener.
There is no faster way to build rapport with a new connection than to ask great questions. You can also asked some of these powerful networking questions.
- What are the challenges you’ve been facing in your industry?
- What do you do when you’re not working?
- Is there anything need or specifically looking for, in case I happen to know anyone?
- What made you decide to go into this business?
- What advice would you give me if I wanted to be successful in your line of work
6. Practice your “elevator” pitch
An “elevator” pitch is so-named because it’s the pitch that’s so quick you can tell someone on an elevator ride and they’ll be hooked before the doors open. So prepare to give a clear, concise and compelling summation of who you are, what you do, why you are at the networking function, and how you bring value to others.
Remember, you’re not trying to sell something. You’re trying to connect with people and forge new business relationships. Your elevator pitch needs to reflect who you are, what you’re about, and what you can do to help.
7. Be visible!
At the networking event, ask for the business cards or contact details of your new contacts. Follow up with a quick email or phone call. You have to keep the relationship alive or you haven’t really networked at all.
Most networkers are all about “me”. You can truly stand out by genuinely caring about the other person. Invest in the relationship. If you discussed a particular topic, perhaps you could do a little further research and send them an interesting article or point out a new blog on the subject.
Follow up online discussions with a note on their social networking page or a private email. Let the person know you’re interested in exchanging ideas on the topic, and offer them some interesting points for discussion.
8. Make use of networking tools
Your namecard or business card is one of your most important networking tools you will ever need. It might be easier to accept a physical, paper business card, but you still have to enter that person’s email address and phone number into your contact book. Instead, import or share business cards with two or three taps to eliminate post-event busy work.
We have compiled these mobile apps to help you manage contacts from your smartphone. Did we say that these apps are FREE as well?
- CardMunch (Available for iOS only) – Powered by LinkedIn, the CardMunch app is pretty simple. From the app, take a photo of a business card and convert the information to an address book contact on your iPhone. You may tweak the settings to either automatically add contacts or edit them first. And of course, the apps lets you view a contact’s LinkedIn information and connections in common.
- Cardcloud (Available for Android and iOS) – Share your digital business card from phone to phone or via email. Recipients don’t require the Cardcloud app. Once you receive a card, the app stores your location, so you will always remember where you met someone. You may also add notes and talking points, as well as access social information directly from the digital business cards.
- CardFlick (Available for iOS only) – Their tagline is “Put a design studio in your pocket. No black turtleneck required.” The app chooses one of 20 beautiful, customizable themes for a unique business card design, and geolocates for easy sharing even if the recipient doesn’t have the app. CardFlick stores all business cards you receive in the cloud. We love this storage method!
- Bump (Available for Android and iOS) – Download the Bump app, enter your contact information, along with a picture and you’ll always have a virtual business card on hand. Then either email or bump phones with someone else to send that information. The recipient, however, will need to have the app as well to receive your ‘bump’.
- BONUS App! biipNet (Available for Android and iOS in September 2013) – This revolutionary app strives to potentially change the way individuals and organisers of seminars, exhibitions and workshops manage their networking efforts whereby it instantly allows a group of individuals to exchange their namecards with one another so that everyone has everyone’s namecard or business card! Disclaimer: biipNet is powered by biipmi Pte Ltd.
Remember, the key to networking is giving. Give information, give advice, give your services, and give your personality, and you will be well on your way to forging genuine, lasting business relationships. In the next issue of biipmi.print, we will continue with this topic, focusing on buidling meaningful relationships and maintaing connections.