The Art of Intentional Networking
How to network intentionally and effectively
Are you getting quality referrals from networking? Do you see others at networking events who appear to be connecting with everyone? Attracting more success in business doesn’t mean you need to network more, you just need to network more INTENTIONALLY.
This means becoming more focused, engaging and memorable with the people who will bring the most value to your circle of influence.
What steps can you take to be more intentional when networking? I have compiled a few basic ones that will help you be the one everyone wants to connect with at networking events.
Self-Awareness: Know your strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, and preferences. When you know yourself, people are seeing the ‘real’ you, which is the attraction factor that allows your personality and authenticity to show through
Expectations: Be sure of your vision, intention and goals. Clarity and focus go a long way to helping you become more memorable, which in turn means others are clearer and more focused on how to help you. Everything about you, your attitude and appearance to how you converse gives off messages. First impressions are just that; they are the ones you want to be on the mark for every time. You only get one shot at it. If your image doesn’t line up with whom you say you are and what you aspire to, then confusion, and distrust can result. Be sure everything associated with you and your career or business is congruent with who you are and what you want.
Less is More: People often believe that doing lots of networking and having hundreds of contacts and connections equate to greater success. Whoa! not so! Rather than always adding more new people to your network, invest some time identifying your most valuable connections. These are the ones who not only bring you referrals and opportunities, but also provide you with valuable insights, information, and support. Focus on these top connections for a while. The same goes for your networking activities. Which ones bring energy, value, and results to your career or business? Take note of what makes these people and events valuable to you. Note for future reference how you originally met or heard about them. so, you can recognize and attract more of the same.
It is alright to say NO: As you identify your who your most valuable contacts and networking activities are, you’ll start to see who and what no longer serves you. It will be easier to prioritize, which is crucial to your networking efficiency and success. Are there some people or events that you need to back away from? Always be gracious, but be true to yourself. You are in business to build your own empire and need to surround yourself with those that will ignite that fire and passion in you and not drag you down.
Keeping your connections alive: Reach out regularly with those you meet that become your best connections. Take a few minutes every day and send out that note, or make a friendly phone call. Showing your valued connections that you are thinking of them will make them think more favourably, and you will spring to mind more frequently when they are giving referrals. Setting up 1 or 2 coffee dates is another way to keep in touch and catch up with each other. When possible attend targeted business or association events each month.
Following Up: I often hear of great connections and then when I ask about follow up, faces go blank! People we must plan and organize our time to follow up. When booking a networking meeting to attend, block off a set of time in your agenda to do the follow ups. The key is doing it regularly and consistently.
Be memorable: You never know where or when an important conversation will take place, when an opportunity will arise, or when you will run into a valued colleague or customer. Be ready, alert, and aware. Conduct yourself in a manner which becomes who you say you are and show genuine interest in other people by being the first to say hello, offering a professional handshake, and engaging in friendly conversation. Ask questions that show interest. Then take the time to actively listen to their response. You can make connections and meetings so much more memorable and valuable, for you and for others.
Pay it forward: I am not talking about giving away your time or knowledge randomly. It’s about offering a positive attitude and a willingness to listen and offer ideas to those you meet. This dramatically separates you from people who focus only on themselves. Certainly, it’s okay to be purposeful and focused on what you’re seeking, but sincere acts of generosity are rare and endearing.
Go make it happen: Doing the steps outlined above will put you on your way to making more powerful connections, earning more likability and trust, and attracting more referrals.