Extend your presence
Top 5 rules for effective networking
Networking may be a widely spoken and practiced concept, but it yields results only if done right. For most businesses, their success can be traced back to powerful networking channels established over a course of time. When networks are made, it fosters the exchange of ideas to maintain long-term relationships and mutual confidence. But it requires that each person understands the other and their line of work properly to be able to add value - either as a client or otherwise. The above reality notwithstanding, building a network is imperative. Whether you seek a job, seed capital, mentorship, vendors or even a team - it is vital to develop a fruitful business relationship.
While possessing a repository of reliable and useful contacts is an invaluable asset, the simplest way to building a strong network is to develop genuine connections with people. It is the first step in a long-term business strategy. However, how does one ensure effective networking?
Here are the top 5 rules to follow for effective networking:
Develop an excellent elevator pitch / Short = Effective
An elevator networking pitch must be short enough to keep everyone interested, but long enough to cover the essentials. A short introduction of 30-60 seconds is enough to articulate the value proposition. The fundamental questions that need to be answered are: What do you do? How are you better? And most importantly: Why should someone confidently try/ refer you as a business stakeholder?
In fact, here is where the limbic system will establish if you're to be treated as a friend or foe. You need to deliver the pitch with equal parts confidence and warmth, which leaves a positive, yet strong impression since the limbic system is responsible for memory, too. Each opportunity counts.
Confidence and approachable go hand-in-hand / Strength is good, so is pleasantness
Confidence is an essential suite of armor to be donned but carrying an air of approachability is just as important. While representing yourself, it is crucial to remember that perception is the reality. You have a valuable connection that is currently open to investing time in hearing from you.
If you're aiming to impress, an intimidating aura will not portray the correct image. Exuberate warmth and intelligence instead; be mindful of maintaining an inviting atmosphere through your body posture and facial expressions. If you look uncomfortable, this vehemence will reflect on your interaction, too.
Be mindful about the knowledge you impart / Content is king
Sincerity is often an overlooked component. Whether you're conducting market research and assessing the level of competition or testing the masses for some investors, stick to the script. You must walk into a meeting with a specific end-goal in mind. Deterring from the conversation may not be frowned upon, but rather spend time discussing relatable and mutually beneficial subjects. This goes a long way in generating respect and being accepted as 'one of us.'
Mutual networking involves being a good listener / Listen
Rule of thumb for effective networking – be a good listener. As an evolutionary trait, humans have yearned to feel wanted. One must be genuinely interested in getting to know the other person. Ask questions that make them the most exciting person in the room. How did they get to where they are? Why are they fascinated by their industry? Asking the right questions not only puts them at ease but also gives you an opportunity to steer the conversation.
As you listen, be mindful of the information that they share. Impart respect and keep yourself open to constructive criticism. By doing so, you develop that connection that will etch this meeting in the person's mind as a memorable one. At the fundamental level, it is a natural conversation with a purpose.
Engage in adequate followup after the networking / The Leaking Bucket
Exchanging business cards is not a means to send mass mailers and spam your acquaintances. But professionals who follow up within 48-72 hours of meeting generally have a better chance of closing the deal. Give them some time to get their head around your idea and let them simmer.
In a world where connections drive a successful business, professional communication is not uncommon. The focus should remain on developing genuine relationships than just the benefits that are a result of that connection. In this way, conversations will remain gratifying, and the outcome would be a network of people with whom you feel connected.
- The writer is serial and social entrepreneur, co-founder and chief mentor of the 'Business Opportunities Club' (BOC), Real Estate Developer, Educationist, Angel Investor and Motivational Speaker