Networking is a powerful personal marketing strategy. Many entrepreneurs have built their business on networking. A smart networking strategy can pay off big time for you. A lousy networking plan or execution can be hugely frustrating.
What is the difference? How do you get your networking to pay off for you? The following questions and answers can help you enjoy more profit from your networking plans and activities.
Q: What is the first principle of networking?
A: Some one else knows someone who can connect you with the people that you want to meet. This is often called the “Six degrees of Separation”. In other words, anyone on the planet is no more than six introductions away. It’s not about who you know but about who the people you know – know.
Q: What is the second principle of networking?
A: Reciprocity. If you help me I will help you. Therefore focus your networking activities on helping others. Not everybody that you help will help you now. Some will never help you. But eventually if you help enough it will come back to you.
Q: What is the most common networking mistake that entrepreneurs make?
A: The most common networking mistake is in the approach. Too many business professionals think that networking is about attending events. They might even be seduced into believing that networking is about the event. The reality is that networking is a process. The networking events are just points in that process.
Q: What is the networking process?
A: Effective networking follows a three-stage process.
1. First contact – the handshake, introduction and exploration.
2. Cultivating – nurturing and building the relationship.
3. Harvesting – getting leads, support or business from the relationship.
Q: Which stage is most important?
A: The cultivating stage. This is where so many networkers give up. This stage is the most time consuming. This stage is where you demonstrate who you really are. This stage is where you impress your contacts so much that they decide to help you.
Q: Why do many people get frustrated with networking?
A: Because it takes time. Networking is a long-term plan. Networking is a methodical process which pays off over time. Most entrepreneurs get bored quickly with any process. They want instant results. It takes some time, effort and creativity. If you are able to invest those resources you can be a profitable networker.
Q: What are the benefits of networking?
A: Networking is an inexpensive form of marketing. It can be very effective because when someone needs your service – they ask around and they will tend to prefer doing business with someone they know or who is known by people that they know.
Effective networking will help you build your business faster than any other form of marketing.