Much official networking, done in a businesslike format, is built on the premise that every person has about 250 connections, people who they know well enough to become a potential customer or business lead. Building relationships with this inner core of personal friends and associates will have been done over a reasonable period of time. Exposing one's close contacts to a stranger or to someone who we hardly know is not really an option. There would be the risk of damaging both the relationship and our own reputation if we were to introduce them to someone who is unreliable.
Networking is about building good relationships in a more formalized way. The key to being an effective networker is to see a relationships' progression as more of a slow burn, rather than walking into a group and seeing who is instantly available to sell your products or services to.
Some people choose to go into a network meeting for the sole purpose of collecting lots of business cards. They then proceed to 'spam' these people with mailshots. This is the equivalent of junk mail from a stranger. People will hardly remember who the sender is. There may be some small immediate benefit to doing this, but more often, sustained business relationships built over time on a basis of mutual respect are far more profitable and enduring. When two people have built a loyal relationship they are more likely to stick with each other through good and bad times, be more understanding if mistakes occur, and be less easily poached by the competition.
The key to effective networking is to see what you can do for the other person. The most effective networkers are the people who are genuinely on the lookout for their fellow group members. By establishing how you can help the other person, without looking for anything in return, enables your fellow networkers to feel confident about your integrity. The person who is generous in this way will stay in people's minds as someone to be trusted and valued.
Having follow-up emails and meetings with associated service providers after networking meetings are useful to maintain continuity. These meetings can be relatively short, say an hour in length, but are a good way for business people to discover if there are ways that they can support each other. This is often a win/ win situation as one person gets some business and the other is able to offer a more comprehensive service to their clients, and so appear more professional.
Staying in peoples' minds means that it is important to attend meetings regularly. Some network groups require a membership commitment and this entails an annual subscription fee. Other groups are more informal and allow people to visit as and when they choose, paying an attendance fee for each visit. If you are a member of a group it is important to maintain the continuity of your presence. It strengthens the group dynamics and it also enables you to be seen as someone who is committed to your business and the group as a whole. If you cannot attend then arrange a substitute to stand in for you. This is especially important if your group has an exclusivity clause that allows only one person from each profession to attend. It could be that another member has a lead that they feel unable or reluctant to pass on if a representative is not actually at the meeting.
Also, some networking groups have websites that allow members to contribute their articles or join forums and discussion groups. All these are opportunities to introduce yourself and to spread the word, sometimes to a worldwide audience, and establish yourself as someone who is experienced and knowledgeable in your field. This enables other networkers and potential clients to understand more about what you do. It is a further way to reinforce the relationship and peoples' confidence levels in you and your skills. It is the way to give yourself an edge, something for potential customers to see as making you special from the competition, a reason to choose you.
Asking for warm leads is important. If someone does have a recommendation for you, ensure that the potential client knows who you are and is expecting your call. Maybe even arrange a meeting where you are able to be introduced properly. This strengthens the confidence that the potential client has in you. After all, we all our more positive about buying from someone who comes warmly recommended.
All it takes are one or two really good leads to make all the effort worthwhile. These could be the leads that really set your business on its feet and sustain it over many years.
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Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/Susan_Leigh/399535
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I am a lifestyle therapist and expert in hypnotherapy, and personal counseling. I am also registered with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) and a member of the College of Medicine. A frequent media contributor and writer of 3 books ('Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact', '101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday' and 'Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain', all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.)