10 Business Networking Tips to Give You an Edge

By Leah H. Carlisle

iStock_000008140633MediumProfessionals are constantly networking to grow themselves and their businesses. It really works. Some people, however, resist networking for whatever reason, either they are too busy and impatient, or they aren’t confident enough to put themselves out there. Still others try, but may not be networking in the best way. The following tips will help you and your business gain an edge through effective networking.

1. Prepare. Before any networking interaction, prepare as much as possible by learning about the potential connections you will be interacting with. Doing this, you can come up with questions and tailor the conversation so you’ll be better able to relate to people and see how you’ll be able to work together.

2. Don’t look at it as work. If networking feels like a chore, you won’t be getting anything out of it. Go in with a positive attitude and really get into conversations where you’re talking to and learning from each other. Organic conversations will follow and you’ll make a better impression. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even have a good time.

3. Leave the desk. Using resources like e-mail and social media are effective to make contact. Past that, however, it’s important to move to the real world as soon as possible. Grab a cup of coffee at an industry event and start talking with people, and your business relationships will grow as a result.

4. Team up. By working with someone in your networking efforts, you might find yourself being more successful. One way of going about this is to attend an event and talk up the other person and their ideas. Spreading positive views will make people more inclined to feel the same way about you. Essentially, it is extremely valuable to have people to look out for and promote you. Another route is to establish a strategic relationship with someone who is already reaching and interacting with your target.

5. Add value. Networking is a give-and-take process, and you should focus on the give. You will have to give before you get. If you do something helpful for someone or provide some form of valuable service or insight, you’ll make a much better impression on the people who are usually asked for favors and advice. Relationships will develop, and you’ll be better off in the long run.

6. Join the right group. Don’t waste your time and energy being part of a group that isn’t valuable. The people in the group should provide resources, knowledge, and a willingness to share, and they should be influential. Communication should be consistent, respectful, and professional, and the network should offer support in overcoming challenges and frustrations.

7. Utilize available tools. There are many apps out there that facilitate networking. They can help you find events and people that will subsequently keep in touch. Apps like WhosHere act as resources to meet people nearby and chat with them. uLink is a Smartphone app that tracks interactions with other members, forms open groups in various cities, and facilitates referrals. Trendr is a business networking platform that utilizes LinkedIn to identify and meet nearby people to whom you are connected and subsequently fosters collaboration. These are just a small sample of the various tools out there that can significantly improve your business networking.

8. Remember that networking

is about building relationships. Don’t go into a networking interaction with a sales pitch. By conversing openly and informally, you’ll find that people are more inclined to do business with you. Suggest topics that are not difficult to discuss and really pay attention. Listen well to the others and stay involved in the conversation. Be engaging and enthusiastic, mind your manners, and smile.

9. Interact with the right people. When you go to networking events, the number of people that are there for you to reach out to can be overwhelming. Find the right ones. Talk to the organizers and other influential people who understand the inner workings and have a lot of connections.

10. Follow up. After any interaction, you probably promised some sort of follow-up, like a phone call or sending some information. You must actually do it. Following up with the people with whom you made connections will demonstrate interest and availability and increase the likelihood that a mutually profitable relationship will blossom.

Business networking can help you make connections, close deals, grow your business, and increase your likelihood of employment, but only if done correctly. Put these tips into practice in order to gain success in your networking endeavors.

The National Association of Distinguished Professionals is one of the largest online networking organizations for business professionals. NADP has over 150,000 members and provides resources such as business and educational services and exclusive discounts to enhance your career.

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