Tips for making connections and growing them
It’s something that’s talked about a lot in the business world, but what does networking really do for you and your business?
First of all, networking is all about growing your connections in order to help yours and others’ businesses thrive. Think about it as a framework of connections that support your business.
While we now have access to a wealth of information on the internet that can be helpful to our businesses, there’s a certain advantage professional networks offer. Knowing someone with industry expertise is always better than searching the web and hoping for a breakthrough.
In today’s world, businesses are becoming more and more collaborative and connected. Networking is an opportunity to share ideas and learn from people outside of your business. Innovation is the spark that keeps a business moving forward. Being able to collaborate with others can lead to new innovative ideas and problem solving.
Networking: it’s a two-way street
Networking is all about building relationships and finding opportunities, often in places you may not expect.
Don’t dismiss anyone just because it may not seem beneficial to you in that moment. You might see an opportunity with them in the future. Opportunities to network don’t always come from networking events, so remember to be open to whatever opportunities emerge. Make sure you nurture your relationships, so it’s beneficial for both.
“Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, marketing your uniqueness, marketing what you stand for.”
- Christine Comaford-Lynch, CEO SmartTribes Institute
Why are we afraid of networking?
For many, networking can be a daunting thing. While some people love to get out there and talk to others, for those less confident, it can be an uncomfortable experience.
A study by the Harvard Business Review on a law firm found that a lot of people didn’t enjoy networking and saw it as being phony. Junior employees were found to be less inclined to enjoy networking, compared to their more senior colleagues because of a lack of confidence.
So, how do you overcome that fear? Ultimately, it comes down to confidence and learning how to put yourself out there. Confidence is found in being sure of yourself, your skills and your company. The study saw that for the junior employees, once given a position of power, felt more confident and happier to network.
“When you think more about what you can give to others than what you can get from them, networking will seem less self-promotional and more selfless—and therefore more worthy of your time.”
Shifting the focus from personal gain is another way to enjoy networking.
The same study found that those working towards a higher goal – like supporting their firm and helping clients, rather than personal or career gains – were more likely to enjoy networking.
Researchers concluded that “any work activity becomes more attractive when it’s linked to a higher goal. So frame your networking in those terms.”
When it comes to networking, you’ve got to have the confidence to make connections and build relationships in order to grow your business or skills.
Networking tips and advice
1) Know what you’re bringing to the table.
Before you go ahead and start handing out your business cards, it’s important to know what you’re bringing to the table. Make sure you know your skills, what your business’ skills are and how you are unique. Start with the thing you’re passionate about, and go from there.
2) Connecting others.
Business relationships are a two-way street. When we’re so focussed on our own goals, it’s easy to forget about how we can help others achieve theirs. But in order to build and grow strong relationships, try to understand what others need and how you can help. If you know people who can benefit from each other, introduce them.
3) Follow through.
All the chatting is for nothing if you don’t follow through. Networking events are a great place to meet new people and start relationships, but it’s important to maintain those connections after the event is over. If you’ve made any promises, make sure you follow through with them.
Try a networking event, reach out to new people, and start developing professional relationships to grow your business. Be confident and be ready to share your passions and skills. You’ll be surprised where networking can take you.
If you want to be part of our network, get in touch. We’re happy to talk content or connect you with other great professionals in the marketing and communications space.