Here are a few insights I've gained:
Understand what networking really is.
The purpose of networking is to create relationships.
People want to know who we are, what motivates us and most importantly how we can help them be more effective in their lives or business.
Don't judge a networking event's potential after one visit.
Get to know the "regulars." They are the people who attend frequently and add value to the event.
Establish a rapport with people and find common bonds and interests.
I try to interact with as many people as possible
Connect with people who you can see yourself working with.
I met someone at a networking event who sells commercial real estate. He deals mostly with small business owners and if he sees a potential opportunity for me he'll suggest it to his client. It makes him memorable - He's not just selling commercial properties. He's helping his clients create overall success.
I got on an elevator with a former client and as we were catching up he told me that he was in the market for a bigger store - He was outgrowing his current space. Did I know anyone? Yup, I sure did!
Walk the Talk
"I'm ready to hire you so that we can get busy."
That was a line from an email I received recently.
I'd met them three months earlier at a networking event. I'd answered questions on business start up strategies and suggested they would benefit from some coaching. I'd also suggested they put three things in place before we started the coaching relationship - things that would assure their business had the best chance of getting off the ground and being successful.
That process took close to three months. We'd meet for coffee every week or so and they'd update me their progress. During that time I didn't earn a single dime from the relationship.
I earned, credibility, trust, and authenticity. I was who I said I was and my actions proved it. I genuinely cared about their success and when they were ready to take the next step they contacted me.
Those are just a few tips that can help you using networking as an effective tool for you and for your business. There are more I am sure and I'd love to hear from you with the things that have worked effectively for you!