Effectively networking has many benefits. Ostensibly meeting new people, learning something new, marketing your company and potentially earning more business from referrals are excellent reasons to attend a networking event. It’d be great if all you had to do was show up and everyone would be interested in you and your business, but the reality is most in attendance will be thinking about their own interests.
When you attend an event, differentiate your own brand from what I’ll call the used car salesman crowd that primarily networks to “get.” You know the type, the ones who only seem interested in selling you on something that is hardly related to anything you need or the topic at hand. Don’t be like that. Instead, learn as much as you can about the people you meet and the pains that they are trying to solve. If you can alleviate their pain in someway, whether it’s related to your business or otherwise, make an effort to help them and distinguish yourself from the crowd.
By providing value and thinking in terms of the wants and needs of others, or in other words networking to give, you’ll be building a following of people who will want to help you out. Building relationships requires effort, and some of your efforts may not pan out. But if you put forth the effort, you’ll find that networking may be an extremely effective way to grow your business.
You may not be rewarded immediately, but the relationships you invest in now should pay off in a big way through future business, introductions, word-of-mouth, or knowledge you gain to solve pains in your own business. At the very least you’ll learn something from the experience and if you are truly able to help, your efforts will be intrinsically rewarded.
So what are you going to do? Network to get or network to give? The next time you attend an event, network to give and see how much more fruitful and rewarding the experience can be.
Have a networking experience you’d like to share? Leave your comment below.