A social butterfly can easily be confused with a great networker but over the last two years I’ve realised that these two types of people are as similar as salt and sugar. I have met a great deal of interesting and influential people in my life time; I have taken many introduction selfies with dynamic individuals and air kissed to the classic “we should do something sometime” farewell. And then nothing…
I might gain a couple of likes on the selfie through social media and maybe bump into said individual at another event in a couple of years but I couldn’t really quantify for you how having met these people has really affected my network and I certainly can’t say they have affected my net worth in any way.
Still, I believe that people build people and that knowing the right people, willing to contribute to your agenda, will certainly help your cause. So the trick is to decipher who is genuinely interested in contributing to your cause and then building a relationship (further than an air kiss) with these people. That is networking.
To do this I think you need to keep the following factors in mind:
- Know what you have to offer
Networking is a two way street, the people you want in your network also have a criteria for the people they want in theirs so evaluate your offerings and figure out in advance if you feel you have something to offer them.
- Be as interested as you are interesting
Another quote from my mentor. Sometimes what we read in the papers or hear through the grape vine is only the tip of the iceberg, ensure that your first meet-up is worth remembering by engaging with your contact about new adventures they might be on, and enlighten them on yours.
- Follow up with your contact details
If your contact gives you a business card, send a text or email the next day saying what a pleasure it was to meet them and leave them with your contact information incase they see an opportunity to work with you sooner than you expected. Also keep their contact information on file somewhere.
- Get a second date
As in, a date on the calendar, make a plan to meet again to further discuss your common interests, the second date is more important than the first or the third as it lays the foundation for the relationship. Perhaps read up on your contact and/or their interests before the date.
- Don’t waste their time or yours
Honestly, I have coffee and food at home so if I made a plan to be at our second encounter it is imperative that we have something to offer each other, be it now or in the future.