Networking. It’s an art, it’s a skill, and it’s essential for high level success. You can be the best of the best at your trade but where does that lead if you don’t find ways to connect and expand to new areas for growth? Be your best self, elevate your brand and create the path to bigger successes. You could consider networking as your business agent, there to support you in winning new customers and expanding your boundaries to new levels.
And there are plenty of personal growth benefits. Learning new technologies, making new friends and solving new problems, to name a few. Networking is a genuine embrace to meet, listen, and develop relationships based on mutual trust and respect.
Some may dread the networking scene, just like public speaking. But, with practice, willingness, and an open mind, you’ll be on the right path. And, by the way, public speaking is a form of networking. More to come on this.
To further crystalize the importance, you could make the comparison that networking for sales success is akin to compound interest for investment growth. Think about that. Investing in your network, each new contact compounds the total value of your business growth.
Be intentional and consistent in your strategy to grow your network and organized in the path to move it forward. Let’s explore multiple ways to grow your network and be creative with the process.
SUPPORTING YOUR INDUSTRY ORGANIZATIONS
Don’t just join and stay idle on the sidelines. Get involved in committees, step up for leadership positions, raise your hand, and get involved in discussions. This can be the center of your professional world. Take advantage of movement and trends in the industry you belong to. Set your target into developing as an SME and use that to establish leadership and promote growth in the industry. And encourage others. The best way to do this is by showing them how you get involved.
VOLUNTEERING. BE OF SERVICE
Yes, that’s right. When you put yourself out there to be of service, not only are you doing good for your community, but also expanding your network to other like-minded connections. And, to qualify this, I’m not suggesting you go into a volunteer gig just to expand your network. Do it for the good of giving back. Focus on the service aspect first. Be genuine and refrain from searching out service work just to build your network. But, by all means, accept and embrace the collateral benefits of all the new connections surrounding you.
Get involved with an entrepreneurs networking group through the business school at a local university or a local business incubator. The reason I suggest this, is the no fear thinking, the strong positive mind-set of new business strategies. And this is an area where you can give back, as well, by providing real business experience to those dreaming about how to create a new business model.
You knew this was coming. There are plenty of opportunities to expand your network and be present in infinite ways with social media. Of course, the holy grail of professional networking is LinkedIn, but don’t discount opportunities to connect and build brand awareness on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Because LinkedIn is so profound in this regard, here are a couple of specific areas to emphasize:
- Boost your connections. Follow industry sites and businesses where you can grow and leverage new contacts to support and link to new business opportunities. Focus on expanding your LinkedIn network with new connections daily.
- Post relevant content and topics of interest to a wider audience. It can be original or reposted from another site or news feed. Share all you can for benefit of others who can grow from the knowledge you have.
- Comment frequently with sincere and respectful feedback. Positivity breeds positivity. Connections want to hear from you and you from them, set a good example.
Probably the highest form of networking, standing before an audience and delivering a message, your message. And this also conditions you for really opening yourself up to connect with anyone. This can be any forum: an industry meeting, a small group networking meeting, or a volunteer service gathering, to name a few.
CONNECT WITH A MENTOR
Find someone you admire and respect for their networking skills and align with them to guide you. Learn from the best and, if you really want to excel, teach others what the best taught you. Be a mentor to someone else.
There is a lot to consider here. Start small but start. And, after investing in and celebrating the growth and success, use your resources. Let me repeat, use your resources. You worked hard to build relationships. So, don’t hesitate to reach out to your network connections for support where you need the right contact to move forward.
The world is a better place when we’re all connected. Keep it going. There is something to be gained from every networking experience. Be open and teachable, listening and learning. I refer to “networking” as an action verb. Go out and do some networking today. And then, go sell something.