Upgrade Your Networking Skills

Published August 04, 2016

Your casual network, professional network, and digital network will almost always be present at networking events.

When attending a professional networking event these days, the attendee list will often times be composed of casual contacts, like golf or church connections and professional contacts, such as colleagues, competitors, and clients and finally digital connections made on LinkedIn or Facebook.

One’s ability to enhance and cultivate these connections is important to success at the live events you attend. 

Both casual and digital networks lead to professional network growth.

Casual Networks + Professional Networks + Digital Networks = Your Networking Ecosystem

 When these networks are not balanced, potential is lost. When these networks are balanced, with continual enhancement and cultivation, the revenue potential is far greater.

Ask yourself, “On average how many networking events or opportunities do I find myself attending on a monthly basis? How many are professional in nature? How many casual in nature? How many are required? How many are voluntary?

There is a relationship between all of the events one attends. Each event, personal, social, and professional lead to opportunities.


Learning to “Work the Room” is more important than ever.

The “Room” is literal and figurative.  

All of life includes Charity Events, Home Entertaining, School Events, Ball Games, Committee Meetings, Chamber Events, Volunteering Efforts, etc. These opportunities provide all employees to connect the dots associated with people, companies, and organizations where propects live, work and play.

Plan for Cultivating and Enhancing Networks through all activities. Personally, socially, and professionally. Plan for your networks includes these four basic areas.

Where – When you know who is in your network, you can more easily find out where they are and where you can connect with them.

What – Once you know where they are, you can plan on what actions to take to connect with them.

When – When you’ve identified where your connections may be found and what action you’ll take to connect with them, you then need a plan for follow up and staying in touch.

Gift/Reciprocity - Reciprocity in social psychology refers to responding to a positive action with another positive action.

 

Your Networking Event “Working the Room” Plan

*Note: Approach your casual network with a Servant’s mindset. This network is about building relationships, not closing sales. Cultivate and grow casual networks for the right reasons. Friendships lead to conversations, conversations lead to referrals and opportunities to serve.

Suggestion:  Think about these questions for each type of networking.

Name: ____________

Where did you encounter your contact?  __________________

Charity event? Church? Ball field? Socially?

What am I going to do to enhance the relationship? ___________________

Invite to coffee, lunch, cookout, cocktails

When am I going to follow up? ____________________

Once monthly, twice monthly, weekly, depending upon relationship.

What will I “Gift” or share?  ____________________

Send a note, share a resource, help in some way, do random acts of kindness.

You should employ a slight tweak to digital networking with a Digital Network “Work the Room” plan

*Note: This network comes from your professional and casual associations and often is comprised of a combination of both networks. Where your digital connections come from will in great part determine where they reside on digital networks. For example, social networks may reside on Facebook. Business connections may reside on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

Suggestion:  Prepare for digital networking with the following considerations toward specifically asking, "With whom do I wish to connect?"

Name: ___________________

Where did you encounter your contact?  __________________

Rotary, Trade Association, Business Networking, Continuing Education, Charity Events
Online Groups, Online Platforms, Online Networking i.e. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Blog comments

What am I going to do to enhance the relationship? ___________________

Invite to coffee, lunch, an event, cocktails (Move the online to offline when possible)

 Measure all of your online activities after you've laid those activities against your strategic and marketing initiatives.

LinkedIn Facebook Twitter
Comment Comment  Tweet
Share Like Retweet
Congratulate Share Share
Join Groups Join Groups Mention
Start Groups Start Groups or Pages Follow
Start a Discussion Update Status

When am I going to follow up? ____________________

Once monthly, twice monthly, weekly, daily, depending upon the platform. Systematize this activity with a simple scheduling tool similar to this one.

 What will I “Gift” or share?  ____________________

Send a note, share a resource, introduce someone to someone else, refer some business, business book, or invite someone to post an article or share their material.

 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Attending Live Events. You’re now literally working the room.

  • Approach each function as a host or hostess. *There is no point in going if people don’t know you’re there.
  • Always act like a host, not a guest.
  • Meet as many guests or newcomers as possible at functions.
  • Welcome them and integrate them into the group.
  • Everyone you meet is important.

Make a lasting impression.

  • Smile, be confident.
  • Look into people’s eyes.
  • Repeat people’s names 4 times in order to remember their name.
  • Give a firm handshake.
  • Script how networking will sound, look and feel. Plan ahead for the connections.

Your Goal: Get them to “remember” you.

  • Get in a position that they will say, “tell me more.” Create your response in advance.
  • Get active and in the flow of traffic.
  • Ask questions of others.

Introduce attendees of any function who don’t know other attendees to new contacts and other attendees. How to do so:

Step out of your comfort zone for a moment and introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. Through thoughtful questions, let them talk for 70% of your time, you talk 30%.
Excuse yourself and repeat the process immediately.
Introduce the two strangers you just met to each other.
Repeat the process for 20 minutes or so and the entire group will begin to think your hosting the function.

Be ready for the inevitable “What do you do?” question. Engage people in conversation. Tip: See how many conversations you can have with people NOT asking them what they do. This is a powerful tool in casual networking because it leads to authentic connection. They will remember you. 

Most importantly and applicable to all areas of networking:

Follow up after the event.

This is perhaps the biggest single activity when you’ve been networking. You need to decide what your follow up strategy would be for each type of connection.

How will you follow up after attending networking events? Do you send an email? Do you offer resources based on the notes you’ve taken? Do you make introductions? Do you make referrals?

  • Send a note,
  • Share a resource,
  • Introduce someone to someone else,
  • Refer some business,
  • Buy a business book for someone,
  • Invite someone to post an article or share their material on your own social profiles.

You must have a plan for follow up. Closing a sale or getting a donation doesn’t happen at a networking event. It begins there and if one is persistent and consistent, it begins there.

In Summary 

Casual Networks + Professional Networks + Digital Networks = Growth in Prospects and Revenue from those Relationships!

This association is managed by The Rainmaker Companies