Things to keep in mind when you start business networking
How do I build my network? How do I sustain my network after the initial contact? Isn’t it ‘shallow’ or ‘intrusive’ to ping people just to use them professionally? I am an introvert, I find networking draining, is there any hope for me? There were many more comments shared on my website post last week but most a variation of the above.
Networking means so many different things to different people with associations that aren’t always positive. So I will dial back to the initial premise; you need to surround yourself with people & thoughts that support your vision & life goals. You need to limit your association with negative people who drain you and limit time that is spent on things that don’t ‘feed’ your mind with anything useful. Therefore, once you recognise the gaps in your network; you take action. It isn’t about cold, manipulative behaviour or a one-way street of asking; it is at the end of the day about building the right relationships.
When you start reaching out to people to build your network, keep a few aspects in mind:
This is about building strong business relationships therefore it is important for you to provide something of value before you attempt to extract value.
When you reach out to someone; go beyond the generic flattery that appears to be the norm. Take the trouble to research the person’s work and write in with a thoughtful, useful point.
There will be lots of effort needed and rejection is to be expected but persist and in time you will start seeing consistent results.
Be respectful of professional space; business influencers get a lot of requests for their advice. Don’t impose with friendly banter/jokes or generic ‘how are you?’ messages. Also there are enough vested interests on all ends so practice basic safety & professional decorum.
Business influencers are as keen to increase their own scope of understanding. Take the effort to research and share information that could directly assist them.
Introverts are at an advantage here. Without prejudice or generalisation but people who listen and then talk will be at an advantage over people who prefer the reverse. The digital medium provides enough room to build a respectful relationship that feels comfortable as compared to live networking events; use it.
It is important to invest in yourself, if you are unwilling to invest in yourself, don’t expect others to. It could be as simple as books, courses or seminars but invest in them.
This is just to get you thinking; the idea is to surround yourself with the voices that help; not hinder. And to do so mindfully. There is a simple reality that one must follow for everything in life. Do not bother about the opinion of someone who you wouldn’t switch places with on that particular subject. This does not imply arrogance any more than it implies listening to every voice. It just means that you wouldn’t go to a cardiologist for a broken leg!