Savvy Speaks - Networking Like a Pro

Savvy Speaks - Networking Like a Pro
Savvy Sisters - Wed Apr 06, 2011 @ 09:17AM
Comments: 32

Whether you're a B2B company prospecting for new clients or a consultant providing services to the B2B companies, networking is an important part of your marketing arsenal. Like they say, it's not always as much about what you know as it is about who you know.

So, on today's "Savvy Speaks," we ask: What are your best tips for networking like a pro?




Carve out time for you!

Networking to quote the old trusty "Covey 7 Habits" is about Sharpening the Saw.  Professionals need to get out of the office occasionally and meet with those in their industry and share ideas.  If your city has a professional marketing association that holds luncheons or happy hours I think you owe it to yourself to attend at least once a quarter. 

At one of the luncheons I went to a year or so ago the speaker said to approach every networking opportunity as a connector.  When you are listening to others try thinking of 1 or 2 businesses of friends or associates that you can refer them to.  You will be perceived in a favorable light as a person in the "know" and the friend / associate you refer them to will be thankful for the tip of the hat.



Make a Lasting Impression

I think of networking the same way I think about today's approach to marketing -- focus on who you're talking to and be helpful. Instead of worrying about finding a way to pitch your products or services, ask about the other person's interests, challenges, goals, etc. and let the conversation play out naturally. When people hit if off with you and see that you've shown an interest in them, they're more likely to want to get to know you.

If there's an opportunity to continue the connection -- such as via LinkedIn or by meeting for coffee -- be sure to follow up. And touch base periodically by sharing information or resources that you feel may interest that person. Again, by showing that you're focused on that person -- and not on making a sale -- you are more likely to make a positive and lasting impression.




Be genuine and generous

While there are a lot of ways you can network in-person and online, I think you should keep two things in mind.

First, be yourself. Just like in marketing, authenticity is a key. I’m not suggesting that you share every detail about yourself (far from it), but people relate to real people, and they appreciate knowing what you can do and how you can help. No one is good at everything, so don’t pretend that you are.  To reiterate what Stephanie said, focus on what people care about and form relationships around that.

Also, be generous – with time and your information. I’m constantly astounded by the really nice people in the B2B and content marketing space. People share knowledge so freely, which makes networking much easier in this space. Just think about ways you can stay involved in the conversation and be helpful, be in it in the form of an email, tweet or a comment on a blog.



On-going Touchpoints

Building your network is the easy part, making it truly useful is the real challenge. You can attend dozens of networking events and collect hundreds of business cards, but if you fail to follow-up after that initial contact, you've missed the whole point of the exercise.

Step 1: Find and follow your new contacts online - Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, their blogs, etc.

Step 2: Once you've established those lines of communication, use them. Let people know you're still interested in them. Retweet them, "Like" their status updates, share and comment on blog posts,

Step 3: Go the extra mile. If you come across an article or resource that you think they'd find useful, send it their way with an @reply, a Facebook tag, or go "old school" and send them an E-mail.

The goal is to stay top-of-mind without being a stalker. The keys to doing this successfully - being genuinely interested and offering help however you can.

Wendy Thomas


Do unto others 

I try to do things as much as possible for others - answer questions, direct to sources, send links. If I have the time, I'll lend you a hand.  I do this not only because it's the right thing to do but in so doing people remember that you are a go-to person, someone who is willing to pitch in, someone who can be relied upon. 

Nice people really do finish first and let's face it when you're in a network, isn't that the type of person you'd want on your side?  




Keep in touch using the magic Rolodex

Most, if not all, professionals lead very busy lives. Keeping in touch with contacts can fall way down to the bottom of the "to-do" list. Along with the other great points made by my colleagues above, I make a point to read Linked In updates and send a note to someone if they post about a new job, promotion or something else exciting going on in their lives.

Which leads me to my main point, which is hooking up with folks on Linked In in the first place. It's like having a magic rolodex that automatically updates with all of your contacts' professional information very time they make a career move.

I have talked to plenty of professionals who just "dont get" Linked In and don't use it. When I point out to them that they can easily keep in touch with contacts even if they change jobs two times in three years, they are sold. 


Have we missed your favorite networking tip? Don't keep it a secret!

Add a comment below and let us know how you make the most of your professional connections.


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