So, we’ve all heard that your network determines your net worth, but how? I mean, you can exchange business cards, “dine” and make Facebook friends with the cool entrepreneurs you meet, but how do you monetize connections?
As an entrepreneur with a strong foothold in two industries, business and entertainment, I had to get really good at networking to keep my business growing. I made a lot of mistakes along the way, and I also learned simple and effective ways to attract new people to my ranks and went from a stack of meaningless business cards on my desk to Rolodex, which fuels my profits.
Tips for connecting and networking
Today I offer you 7 modern tips for connecting. They are modern because these philosophies and strategies are perfect for Generation Y entrepreneurs who are creative, relevant, and successful. They promote authenticity and ignore boring formulaic approaches.
1. Passion and enthusiasm – Without the right attitude and approach to networking, it can come across as fake, needy, or corrupt. Think about your business – how do you enrich the lives of the people you serve? Forget about your mission for a second and think about what your clients say about you – what do they like most about you and what do you do? There is no reason to feel slippery or shy when you offer value. We are all drawn to people who are enthusiastic about what they do. There are people who need what you have, and networking is a platform through which you can get your product or service to the right people. Imagine yourself as a consultant. If you sell with a genuine desire to help and empower the people you meet, you no longer have to wonder if you’re blowing your own horn or looking obnoxious. Always start with a desire to empower the people in your network, and they will use you, refer others to you, and offer you opportunities.
2. Star Introduction – Have you ever been to a seminar or networking event and seen one person who is always chatting with someone? These people are not always the most interesting people in the room, although it seems so. These are people who usually have really cool acquaintances. A great introduction is not a promotional presentation. This is a one-line story about you that tells who you are, what result you create and who you serve. Consider this example: a branding consultant wants to introduce himself at an event. It can present itself in two ways.
Answer: “Hi, my name is John and I’m a branding specialist.”
B: “Hey! I’m John, I’m showing Gen Y entrepreneurs how to become rock stars in their industry using social media.”
Do we really want to hear more from A’s introduction? We’ve all been in a situation where we’re bored to tears listening to someone babble in inappropriate jargon. Introduction B draws you in and creates a great conversation starter. By sharing the specific result you create, you demonstrate the value of your product or service. Moreover, you are planting an important seed in the mind of your listener. Perhaps they need your services or know someone who needs them. They will only be able to accurately judge it if you make a clear and powerful introduction that will interest them.
3. Ask the right questions. – By asking the right questions, you can get rid of the excess and get to the point. Instead of asking what someone does, ask how their product or service works. Ask them how you can help them take their business to the next level and listen carefully to the answer. If you ask better questions, you get better answers, in which position you can offer expert advice and tailor your services to the needs of those you meet.
4. Perform a network assessment. –Before moving on to your next mixer or networking event, take a moment to evaluate your current network and the people in it. What kind of people do you attract? What relationships have you built so far? Is your network outdated? Do you need to spend some time talking to people in your current network and offering your services there before looking for new clients? Because business changes so quickly, a period of just six months could mean a completely different need or circumstance for your ideal client. Keep your finger on the pulse of your current network, this will help you work more efficiently in the future. After all, you can’t be of maximum benefit to those you meet if you’re not fully engaged with those you already know. Invest time in building relationships, not just creating them.
5. Create a network target list. – What kind of people do you need to communicate with in order to grow your business? What gaps have you noticed in your network? Every entrepreneur needs a diversified network to support a thriving business and career. Once you have completed your network assessment, it will be easier for you to understand who you may need to add to your network. Maybe you have a lot of financial professionals, but you lack creative personalities. You may gravitate toward younger, trendier CEOs, but you know the wisdom of an industry veteran will be invaluable. Don’t be afraid to think big about the types of people who could give you the opportunity to expand your business. Whether it’s a celebrity, an industry titan, or your favorite business writer, consider what it’s like to have influencers in your network, then strategize to communicate with purpose.
6. Develop a networking strategy. – Attending every event you can find and exchanging business cards is not a strategy! Very successful leaders have a goal—they have a clear idea of the kind of people they want in their field and try to find people who have the qualities or resources they need. A networking strategy should be written that states who you would like to add to your network, why you want to add them, where they hang out/hang out, and how you are going to engage them once contact is made. Even if you only have human prototypes i.e. creatives, influencers, techies, marketers, etc., you will be light years ahead of the average entrepreneur. Like everything else in life, clarity helps you distinguish between distractions and opportunities. With a clear networking strategy in place, you can connect and interact with the right people who can benefit from what you do or help you grow your bottom line. Use your online time wisely by being clear about where you go and who you communicate with.
7. Build relationships. – You’ve probably heard that luck is in the sequel. Follow-up is good, but relationship building is great. People spend money with people they know, love and trust. You earn that trust by constantly engaging people in your network in meaningful conversations and mutually beneficial exchanges. A simple email with an article is no longer enough. If you can’t be bothered to really get to know people and understand what inspires them, you’ll have a hard time cultivating those relationships that will matter the most to your bottom line. Write down the birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones of key people in your network and celebrate those dates. Send handwritten thank you notes to people who helped you or gave you advice. Choose a handful of people that you will meet on the phone or for lunch every month or every quarter. Share interesting news about your career or business. Remember that business people are people, which means they want to feel important and be recognized, no matter what title they have or how successful they are. Make it a rule to build relationships that will last for a long time, and not fleeting communication.
Your network really determines your net worth, but it’s not just about who you know, it’s about who knows you and what they know about you. Using the secrets I have shared, your network will explode and, better yet, your profits too.
Lisa Nicole Bell is a filmmaker and entrepreneur who helps people around the world stop living by chance and start thriving with purpose. Her multimedia conglomerate Inspired Life Media Group has helped thousands of people transform their lives and achieve personal and professional success. Learn more about Lisa and her quest for world domination.