Networking. One word, three syllables that at best make most people cringe, and at worst send them into a state of mild panic.
Yet networking is critical for any business (or individual) to grow, so finding your own way to network with purpose™ is critical for success.
We spoke to The Visible Guy, Gordon Jenkins, author of the international book Network with Purpose – Transform Your Skills in 4 Simple Steps, to understand what networking really is and how to make the activity a pleasure, not a chore.
Tip: Understand why you’re networking
You need to know the right people who can help you build your business. If you think of a plane full of the top 20 people who’ve helped you get to where you are today, are they the same 20 people you’d have on your plane to get you where you want to go over the next seven years? Probably not. So you need to be continually making new connections to keep you and your business moving forward. Simply, if you want to grow your business, you need to network with purpose.
Tip: Banish your preconceptions of networking
Networking isn’t entering a room full of strangers and selling yourself to them. It’s the connections you have and the people you know. You are constantly networking. Any time you’re interacting with someone, in person or online, you’re networking. You’re building your network – your network of potential customers, or people who might refer you. So you need to find ways to do that that suit your DNA. Ultimately, networking (with purpose) is about compelling people to seek you out and follow your journey.
Tip: Understand there are different types of networking…
There are three types of networking. The first one is this operational, how you get the job done, how you work and how you interact with your colleagues. The second type of networking is personal, and this is more about your own development, how people see you as you grow, and if you’re a small business owner, there’s a little bit of a twist between your personal and your business growth. The third networking type is strategic, so that’s how you position yourself. When you understand that, then the accountable activity that you take will change, depending on what we’re doing.
Tip: …And there are many different ways in which to network
If you like going to networking events, fine – go for it. Many people don’t. If you don’t like doing it – don’t! There are 21 different ways in which to network with purpose. Networking events are just one of those. You have to do the networking that suits your DNA. It’s really important to follow the path that’s right for you.
Tip: Network within your passions
Sport, food, drink and philanthropy are my passions – so all of my network is drawn around that. What’s your passion? If you have kids you may want to join the PTA – that’s a great networking opportunity. Or a local sports team. Identify your genuine passions, and think of how you can use them to meet new people – the right sort of people that you want on your plane!
Tip: The three keys to successful networking
- To be successful at networking, you’ve got to be visible. You’ve got to be seen – in person or online – regularly and consistently.
- You have to be memorable. Differentiate yourself. What can make you stand out? You need to be very consistent in that.
- You also have to be intriguing. People need to be curious about what you do, they need to be compelled to seek you out.
Tip. Action v accountability
You need to ensure you’re accountable for what you do with your networking. Collecting business cards is an action – you’ve got some, great. What are you going to do with them? Be accountable.
Tip: Control the conversation
The first conversation with someone you have never met before can be daunting, but if you can control it and know what you’re going to talk about, it becomes a lot less intimidating! Never talk about products or fees, but guide the conversation along these lines:
- Do you have an accountant?
- What do you like about your accountant?
- Tell me about your business.
- What are your goals for this year?
- How’s your accountant helping you achieve those goals?
By having this type of conversation, you’re creating intrigue and curiosity…
Tip: Don’t think ‘I don’t have time’
You do! At a minimum, you need 15 minutes, three times a week – it’s not much. At a bare minimum, that’s what you need to commit to, to start networking. Spend that time being VISIBLE! Otherwise, you are just an expert in a vacuum.
Special offer for readers of the Distinctive Business Blog!
We’ve teamed up with Gordon to offer readers of the blog a free copy of Gordon’s 21 ways you can network.
If you’d like the list to give your own networking a great kickstart, email [email protected].
For more information on Gordon and what he does, visit www.thevisibleguy.com, or follow him on LinkedIn You will also find access to the book Network with Purpose – Transform Your Skills in 4 Simple Steps on his website.
More About Gordon
Gordon Jenkins, The Visible Guy™, is the straight-talking authority on Networking. He is an accomplished entrepreneur, professional speaker, mentor, coach, author and advisor. With over 20 years’ global business and leadership experience, The Visible Guy is living proof that no matter what obstacles you face, you can position yourself for success.