How To Build Successful Relationships Through Networking
‘Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success’ – Samantha Cheema, Love To Brand.
Well … not exactly! These are Henry Ford’s words, but they summarise well what I’m going to be covering in this blog – how to build successful relationships through networking.
As the Business Development Manager for the Love To Brand team, I’m the face you will meet at local networking groups and events, and over time I have picked up a few tips on how to make the most of this type of relationship building.
If you are new to the networking scene it can be daunting and a bit scary walking into a room where everyone seems to already know each other, but just remember ‘it was their first time once too’. Also, any worthwhile networking group should make you feel comfortable and be welcoming from the start. Different groups can bring a different atmosphere depending on the type of people it attracts and their reason for getting together. It is important you know what environment you are comfortable in and make sure you select the right group for you and your business. Do you prefer structure to the event with someone taking the lead, or a relaxed standing environment where you are free to work the room at your own leisure?
Whether you are already a networker but feel like you should be getting more out of your time attending the events, or you are new to the scene, you may find my ‘6 Golden Networking Rules’ listed below of some interest.
1. Work The Room – I can’t stress this enough. If you make the effort to attend an event and take the time out of your business to do so, then please make sure to work the room and get to know as many people as possible. If you are a regular at the event, same rule applies – don’t get comfortable with just a few individuals, be seen to be catching up with others and people will respond to your efforts.
2. Use The Time You Have – where possible be early and stay late. Some of the best conversations I’ve had have been with other early birds at the bacon sandwich station! Try not to be the last one to enter the room, or show up just for the pitches. There is nothing worse than somebody arriving in time to pitch their own business and leaving once they have done so, what are they achieving? Also, if you are in conversation and the event comes to a close, make sure to remain fully engaged and don’t rush off.
3. It Is Not All About You – probably one of my most important golden rules – concentrate on others and how you can help them. Don’t be there simply to gain business for yourself; networking is about building connections not customers. Picture a little black book of connections and how you can use these to help others find what they need. This will make you useful and valued, resulting in some business being passed your way when the time is right.
4. Always Say Thank You – this may seem an obvious thing to do, but so easily overlooked. Always make the effort to say thank you. Whether it’s for a referral, testimonial, help connecting with a new contact or even help finding a supplier, always show your appreciation and make use of LinkedIn where appropriate.
5. Seek Opportunity To Speak – often at networking events there will be opportunities to speak to the room, away from your usual couple of minutes pitching. Don’t shy away from these, seize the moment and make the most of it. This is your chance to showcase the real you, use real life experiences to engage with the room and don’t just go off on a lecture about your products and services. People want to learn about people and feel connected with them. The phrase ‘People buy from people’ is so true. The more people get to know you and your real personality, that’s when you will see the business coming your way.
6. Arrange 121’s – Don’t think you can only speak to the attendees during the event. Be confident enough to suggest a one to one meeting and make them happen regularly to truly build a strong relationship with the individual and stay fresh in their minds, and them in yours. I find my strongest networking relationships are those who I have regular one to ones with, you find out something new every time you chat which continues to help you both!
So, going back to my opening quote – ‘Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success’ – networking is the coming together of new relationships and how you use these will determine how successful your networking efforts will be.