Things to keep in mind when you start business networking
Updated: May 8
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? What is the importance of networking in business? Many more comments were shared on my website post some time back, but most were a variation of the above.
Networking means so many different things to different people with associations that aren’t always positive. Thus before putting out any networking tips, 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 the time that is spent on things that don’t ‘feed’ your mind with anything useful. This should be the fundamental of any networking strategy anyone develops. Therefore, once you recognize the gaps in your network, you take action. It isn’t about cold, manipulative behavior or a one-way street of asking; it is, at the end of the day, about building the right relationships with the right intent.
When you start reaching out to people to build your network, keep a few aspects of business networking best practices in mind:
The first networking tip is to be a person of value. 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 with a thoughtful, useful point.
There will be lots of effort needed, and rejection is to be expected. In such situations, being persistent is one of the best networking strategies one can stick to. 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. Make an effort to research and share information that could directly assist them.
Introverts are at an advantage for networking with people. Without prejudice or generalization 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 about networking with people; 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!