In fact, from birth, we are wired to network. Networking is simply about building relationships with others. On a personal level, we do it naturally with our family and friends.
Yet when you mention networking in regards to business, it suddenly becomes cold, calculating, and well, a lot of work.
I’m an introvert, so networking can be especially scary for me. But due to today’s technology, I am able to network every day in a way that I am comfortable with: online.
As a blogger and freelancer, networking helps me to build my business. But it also allows me to grow, learn, and connect with others who have similar interests.
Networking need not be work — you can learn to enjoy it!
3 No-Fail Methods for Networking the Natural Way
I’m going to share 3 of my favorite strategies for networking. Nothing complicated here – these tips are simple, easy to follow, and organic. But when used in an authentic manner, they can solidify relationships both on- and off-line.
Strategy #1: Remember details about people
People like to feel special.
One easy way to accomplish this is to treat them like an individual by remembering things about them. Remember details about their family situation, career, favorite shows, hobbies, pets or anything else that they may be passionate about.
I am one of those people that are blessed to remember details about people, even those that I barely know, especially if I read them. This comes in handy for networking. Not good at the details?
A family member of mine recently shared this trick: Keep a notebook with details about each of your contacts so that you can recall them later.
This is especially useful when you talk to these individuals by phone or online, but if you will attend a meeting, you can study your notes before you talk to them in person. Follow up with them using those personal details and you will be on your way to building a relationship.
My contacts normally learn pretty quickly about the things that I am passionate about. I love when I get a comment or email that speaks to something I like and lets me know that they are thinking of me.
Provide that same feeling of being special to your contacts and they will remember you for it.
Strategy #2: Be nicer than you have to be (or than they’re used to)
Let’s face it: Manners are often lacking these days.
Regardless of the reason why, common courtesy is not so common anymore, so people are taken by surprise when they are exposed to it. For example, it is a pet peeve of mine that someone that you never have met may email you with absolute informality, including the lack of a salutation, greeting, and proper ending. I prefer to treat my emails and other online correspondence (including comments) as letters.
Some of my favorite ways to do this is to address them by their name; say a greeting to let them know that I am thinking of them, like “I hope that you are doing well,” “How are you?” or “I hope that you had a good weekend”; state my business; thank them for their time; send a wish their way, like “Enjoy your day.” or “Here’s to a great week!”; and sign my name. It takes a little longer, but people notice it.
How do I know?
Because they start to reciprocate and communicate with you in the same fashion. Kindness catches on.
Strategy #3: Support their endeavors
Another great way to show that you care is to show support for your contacts.
There are many ways to do this. Maybe you have a friend or business associate that is running in a marathon to raise funds for a favorite charity. You can choose to donate to their cause or share it with the rest of your contacts to help get others involved.
- Does another blogger have a blog post that they are trying to promote? Maybe you can share it on your social media outlets or link to it in a blog post of your own.
- Is someone selling something? Let your network know about it.
- Do you know someone who just started a new social media account or joined an online network? ‘Like’ or follow their page or endorse their skills and talents.
There are so many easy ways to support others. It does not take a lot of effort—just think about some of the ways that you would appreciate help and do those things for others.
The Golden Rule of Networking
When you are networking with others, don’t overcomplicate the process. Utilize many of the skills that you have learned over the years about how to build personal relationships with family and friends to strike up and strengthen your business relationships.
Instead of implementing contrived and forced networking strategies, keep it natural and focused on the connection, not the outcome.
Enjoy meeting and connecting with others and the natural progression as the relationship blossoms.
Think about what makes you feel special and what you appreciate that others do for you and go out of your way to show concern for others.
When you put the focus on the relationship, it takes the work out of networking.
What are some of your favorite ways to build relationships with family and friends? How can you apply those strategies to your business relationships?
Please comment below and share some of your favorite networking techniques that are authentic, but effective.