Whether you’re a businessman, coach, pastor, actor, or a politician, knowing how to network is a must-have skill. The great ones know the importance of networking. Some of the greatest connections, relationships, decision-making or business transactions ever made were done through networking.
In his best-seller “Doing Business by the Good Book,” author David Steward said this about networking: “It is said that if everyone in America had to start over from scratch — with nothing — the same people who originally had the most money would have it back again within five years. That’s based on the premise that they didn’t lose their networks or connections.“
There is no doubt that one of the keys to success in this world is recognizing the importance of networking, and there are hundreds of books and classes that focus on the skill. This space often looks at different elements behind successful networkers, but for now, I thought I would just share a list of some key tips and reminders. Are some of these working for you now? Do you have any more to add?
1. Take care of your image.
Whether we like it or not people judge us by our first impression. If you need to take an additional 10 minutes in the morning to look sharp, do so. It’ll be worth it. There are plenty of great books out there on how a gentleman or a lady should carry themselves. Looking the part can bring a lot of value to the table.
2. Always be positive.
I one read a quote about problems that made things very clear to me: “Don’t complain, explain, to talk about your problems. 80% of people don’t care about them and 20% are glad you have them.” Everyone already has so many different issues they’re dealing with in their lives that they don’t want to deal with others problems. Be positive, upbeat, and uplifting.
3. Treat all events as networking opportunities.
You really never know where your next customer, vendor, partner, mentor or even angel investor might come from! Maybe it will be at a formal business function, but it could just as likely at your son’s soccer game or your bowling league night.
4. Develop the ability to “small talk.”
Small talk is as easy as talking about a sporting event, the weather, or a new movie that’s out. It’s also very important to not just give short answers or long answers. If someone asks you how your day is going, don’t respond back by just saying “good.”
5. Develop active listening skills.
There’s a big difference between hearing someone and listening to someone. Have you ever been told: “Look at me when I’m talking to you … I can tell you’re not paying attention.” I’m sure there’s a lesson somewhere in that exchange.
6. Use your business card.
As important it is to give out your business card, it’s far more important to get one. You control the point of contact if you collect the business card.
7. Use your business card, Part II.
When you get a business card, immediately write details about your meeting on the back. How often do you get someone’s card and a few days later forget what you discussed? This happens to the best of us. All it takes is a moment to jot down on the back of the card any specific details that will help you remember who it was.
8. Send a hand written card the same day.
When’s the last time you received a hand written letter from someone? Not an e-mail or a text, but a hand written letter? That tells you how rare these are nowadays. Last year I sent over 1,000 hand written cards to folks I’ve met or old friends I stay in contact with. As much as Social Media is the future, people know it takes time and effort to send a personal note to someone. It’s been said that there are more photos of Ronald Reagan sitting at his desk writing a letter than any other. Writing letters is a skill mastered by the great ones.
9. Be timely and organized with your follow up.
I’ve met many people who are great at networking but horrible at follow up. That’s kind of like having a Ferrari but never filling it up with gas. The Ferrari is the new contact but following up is the fuel. There are many systems to help using today’s technology, but be sure to use one.
10. Become a connector. Give value by helping others.
Connectors are connectors because they’re great networkers. Do you have a friend you call that normally knows everybody? That’s what you call a networker who has connections. This is a great element of bringing value to the table.
11. Use social media.
I remember when email first came out and people use to say: “I’ll never use email. I’m old school.” Well, whether you like it or not, social media is here to stay. Hurry up and get your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts. The first thing I do when I get someones business card is search them on LinkedIn. Keep in mind that LinkedIn is your online resume/ business card and it must be constantly updated. You’ll be amazed how many new and old connections you can make through them. By the way, you can find ME on all of these platforms under Patrick Bet-David.
12. Be genuine.
Isn’t it easy to figure out who’s genuine and who’s not? Think about a salesman you did business with recently where the service you received was phenomenal. Why do you think you can still remember that person? It’s normally because they were genuine. It’s amazing how much that can take you in life.
13. Give compliments.
How many people in the last 24 hours have complimented you? Can you vividly remember their name and where it happened? That’s because compliments are very rare to come by in today’s’ world. But what if you became that person that compliments everyone you met throughout the day. Isn’t that a simple concept? The challenge I give to all of our agents in PHP is to compliment five people a day and see what happens. You’ll be amazed by the results. But remember, the key is to give a genuine compliment.
14. Treat new relationships as gold.
This last one is pretty simple. Be good to your network and your network will be good to you. Life is short and you’ll be amazed how often you’ll be back in business with someone you never thought you’ll ever do business with again.