Whether you want to sell more services, become better known in your community or find a new job, there’s one strategy everyone agrees about. They all say, “You’ve got to network.”
You probably already believe it. But, are you networking as effectively as you could? In my experience coaching scores of business professionals, most people believe myths about networking that are holding them back.
Here are 3 networking myths exposed and debunked so that you can build better relationships and feel more comfortable networking.
MYTH 1: Networking is about meeting people.
REALITY: Networking is about FOLLOWING UP with people.
Imagine that you are in a meeting where someone describes herself as an ideal customer for your organization. She goes on to tell you that she went to your organization ready to invest up to $10,000 if someone asked for the sale. Unfortunately for you, she left with her money. What would you do?
That’s a real scenario. To prepare for a networking workshop for one of my clients, I decided to be a secret-shopper and I shared my experiences during my presentation. Of course, salespeople flocked around me immediately after my workshop. But, how many people followed up later?
Just one. Did she get my business? No. Here’s why: she didn’t follow up enough. When she contacted me, I was busy and asked her to call me again. She never did. If that happens when business opportunities come practically gift wrapped, are you leaving other opportunities on the table because of poor follow up?
Networking Tip: Schedule time for follow up activities in your calendar. Create a follow up plan that includes regular calls, notes and information sharing.
MYTH 2: Networking is about getting.
REALITY: Networking is about GIVING.
You may feel uncomfortable about networking because you think it’s only about asking others to help you. But, the key to networking is building relationships and that’s based on a give and take.
Look for ways that you can give to the people in your network, whether you’re sharing resources, connecting them with others or providing some other type of value. You’ll feel better about reaching out and the people in your network will be glad you did.
Networking Tip: Start each week by asking, “What can I give this week?” Spend a few minutes coming up with an answer and proactively helping the people you know.
MYTH 3: Networking is about talking.
REALITY: Networking is about LISTENING.
Sure, you have to do some talking when you’re meeting with others, but it isn’t all about you. The best way to uncover opportunities is by listening. And, you’ll be more at ease when you’re not treating your contacts to your “this-is-why-my company-is-so-great” monologue.
Share information about yourself, but focus on learning more about your contact. Redirect their questions to learn more about them. For example, when someone asks what you do, respond with, “Can you tell me a little bit more about what you do and your business objectives? That way, I can answer your question in a way that’s more meaningful for you.”
Networking Tip: Prepare a few key “getting to know you” questions. Here’s my favorite: “What kind of lead or business connection is most helpful for you?”
There you have it – 3 business networking myths exposed that may have been slowing down your success. Follow these networking tips and you’ll build better relationships and grow your network.
Share your experiences. What has prevented you from networking in the past? Or, learn more about networking at the “Networking for Success” workshop.