Whether you’re just starting your business, or you’ve been established for quite some time, you’ll likely understand that networking plays a huge role in the success of your business. It’s also likely you can think of at least one professional relationship you have that has had a positive impact on your business.
The term ‘networking’ is thrown around a lot, but it can often feel vague and intangible. What does it really mean? Simply put, it means connecting with others, ideally in some meaningful way.
A great professional network offers the opportunity for mentorship, the possibility of finding new clients, the chance to gain visibility in front of others’ audiences, as well as a support structure of likeminded people.
Networking has significantly changed over the years, and even more so in the last year. Face to face networking is still popular but it is becoming unnecessary in a lot of industries as online networking becomes more popular and integral. Your online network is almost limitless.
Online Networking Dos & Don’ts
Of course, as with any social interaction, there are standards and expectations, rules and best practice. We’ve all been sent emails and messages with icky content, pushy or underhanded, falsifying interest with the obvious objective of selling something to us that we don’t want.
It’s worth mentioning that sales tactics are changing rapidly, and the vast majority of people are rebelling against the pushy salesman stereotype that we’ve all been a victim of. Building genuine connections and showing your target audience how you can solve their problems is where it’s at.
So, we’ve compiled a shortlist of our top ‘dos and don’ts’ to help fine-tune your interactions.
Don’t obsess over gaining new contacts. Chances are you already have a wealth of connections, start by building rapport with those already in your network. Cultivating and nurturing existing relationships will often lead to opportunities. Follow up on historic conversations, check-in to see how they are and where they’re at. Be conversational, show interest, tell them something you’ve been up to in return.
Don’t neglect your profiles. Make sure all your information is present and correct. Most people don’t really delve into much of your copy or content, they want to know what you do, how you solve their problems and how to get in touch. It’s that simple.
Don’t be a pain. Don’t pester or hound people. If they’re not responding to you, if they’re blunt, or if you’ve sent them connection requests and they’ve declined, leave them be. They’re either not interested or too busy for you right now and keeping on at them will make you appear desperate. Leave it a while and focus on your warm leads.
Don’t send essays. Cut through the noise. People are busy and they won’t be interested in reading lengthy messages. Be deliberate with your choice of words, get to the point, and don’t fake interest in them if you’re not truly interested – they’ll spot it a mile off.
Do provide context. As mentioned above, people are busy, and they don’t have time to figure out where they know you from or if they know you at all. They want to know who you are, why you’re contacting them, and what you want. If what you want is to offer them something they may be interested in, let them know why you think they’d be interested.
Do use your existing network for introductions. This is a great way to make sure you get time with someone you want to be connected with. If you have a mutual connection that you’re already on familiar terms with, ask them for a favor. Politely ask if they would offer an introduction. It’s likely the other person will be much more interested in what you have to say if you’re introduced via an already trusted connection.
Do offer value. Building great relationships is a 2-way street. You’ll form better connections when you bring something to the table not just expect to be fed. All relationships should be mutually beneficial, so why not professional ones?
Do be authentic and consistent. Do be your professional self and don’t expect to be someone’s new favorite go-to overnight. Be patient. Building rapport and trust takes time, so give it some.
Do your research. Aimlessly adding connections to your network is pointless. Get out there and do some research. Know that who you’re connecting with is relevant and make sure you know what the person does etc. Take a look at their company and profiles to ensure you know your stuff when talking to them.
Managing your contacts and leads is simplified with Jarvis CRM on hand to log your progress, remind you when to touch base or even automate your check-ins via email as well as keep all the information in one place.
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