Tap family and friends
There are chances that your family and friends know people who could be of great help to you in various aspects of your business. You should consider the contacts of your family and friends, and connect with those you think could be of use to you, or vice versa.
Be genuine about yourself and your business. Do not make false claims. Be genuinely interested in what the other person has to say. This will help you win their trust in the long run.
The purpose of networking is to build relationships with people, so as to be mutually beneficial in matters of business. This cannot be achieved if you talk only about yourself and your business. For effective networking, it is important to be interactive and understand as much about the other person’s business while you communicate your views.
Use various media
Today, networking is not restricted to just face-to-face meetings and conversation. A lot of networking takes place online, through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. There are several groups for business networking as well.
Do not restrict yourself to only one media of networking, but explore different platforms. Each media has its own limitations as well as advantages.
You could also consider giving talks at various organisations or groups, as well as sponsor events or volunteer for them. These are also great ways to network.
Whenever a referral is made to you, be diligent in following it up. Meet the person concerned as soon as possible, or call and explain that you will try and meet them soon.
It is crucial to present yourself well in any form of networking, particularly so in the traditional form. Ensure that you communicate your ideas, information about your products and/or services, as well as your goals effectively and clearly.
Be confident, and leave a good first impression.
Determine your purpose
Be clear about the purpose of your networking beforehand – whether it is to spread awareness about your business, to inform people about new products or services launched, looking for funds, or growing your business. This will help you determine the right kind of people to meet, and the right way to approach them.
When you talk to people, you should be able to articulate, clearly, what exactly you need from them.
It is a good idea to be completely calm and relaxed when you are networking. Do not approach networking as a hard-core business activity, but as a social activity. Approach people like you would approach friends. This will loosen you up, and help you present yourself confidently and effectively.
Do it constantly
Business networking need not be done on specific occasions or at specific times only. Network constantly. Any personal or social visit should be considered as an opportunity to network, and spread awareness about your business. However, ensure that it is within limits, and do not turn all events that you attend into business networking spiels.
Following up is a crucial part of business networking. Whenever you meet someone influential, make it a point to call them back after a while. Tell them how much you enjoyed meeting them, and ask them to consider the possibility of meeting again to share views and ideas.