Networking is about more than reluctantly attending a networking session which your boss said it was compulsory for you to attend, or if you’re in business for yourself and you’re an entrepreneur, attending just so that you can say you’ve been there and you’ve exchanged business cards with other attendees. Networking applies to your personal circles as well, perhaps even more importantly than the value it has with regards to your professional networks.
So, with that in mind we’re going to discuss how to master what is the very essential skill of networking.
Establishing your communication style
Networking at business networking events, whether they take place physically or virtually (learn about virtual networking at https://www.goldcast.io/blog-post/virtual-networking) can sometimes skew people’s views about how to get it right. It is so because such networking events encompass everything that goes against introverted personalities. Someone who is good at networking is made to appear to be synonymous with someone who is a charismatic salesperson, and that’s a very misguided view.
In order to master the skill of networking, you have to establish and assert your personal communication style and use that as the channel through which you’re going to be communicating. For example, as an introverted individual, your real friends and your family know that going weeks and sometimes months on end without communicating with them doesn’t mean you’re mad at them or that you don’t love them anymore, so if you were to pick up the phone and ask for a favour after those months of apparent silence, that can never be misconstrued to be you simply using them when you need something from them.
So be assertive in establishing your preferred communication style and then you’re ready to move on to the next step which forms part of your mastery of the essential skill of networking.
Identifying or creating and exchanging value
Going back to the professional setting in which networking applies, building up your network is perhaps geared towards increasing the value you get out of your interaction with the people forming part of this network. In short, you either want the people in your network to turn into paying customers and buy a product or service from you, or you want them to connect you with the customers you’re after. Perhaps they can connect you with an ideal business partner, but ultimately it comes down to sales conversions. If you are introverted in your approach this can bring a wall between a business to business conversation, that is why utilizing media networks can potentially help with this, e.g. using a service like https://rocketreach.co/ for email, phone, and social media lists that can then initially connect you with who you need to which can help you set out a plan beforehand.
Now, there are some instances in which the product or service you have to offer isn’t exactly what someone who forms part of your network is looking for, in which case you have to come up with a way of identifying value you can give to them or creating that value. If I want someone I met at a networking session to connect me with a cheap supplier they have a good relationship with, for instance, upon learning that they’re getting married I might suggest that they check out an online platform which allows them to create save the date postcards they could use to announce the news to their inner circles.
This way I would have given them value which they appreciate, but value which I essentially created out of nothing. The important thing is that they’ll feel as if they owe me a favour in return.