You’ve probably heard it before: It’s not what you know, but who you know. Networking is invaluable to entrepreneurs. It allows you to learn from the experiences of others, gain new clients and promote yourself and your business. In turn, the value you provide to your connections will deem you an influential professional.
To get the most out of networking, follow the three golden rules of networking:
1. Quality over quantity
You shouldn’t show up to a networking event to make it rain with your business cards. Also, your main focus shouldn’t be to snatch as many cards from your peers. If your contacts think you’re spamming them when you reach out, that’s a red flag.
Instead of trying to make the most connections, try to make the most out of the connections you know will be helpful to your professional progress and success. Take time to market yourself by cultivating meaningful relationships that will provide value for both parties involved.
2. Give and you shall receive
You should certainly seek out connections that will bring benefit to you and your business (and be a bit selfish about it) – that’s one-way networking is so great! However, when you first make a connection, don’t jump straight to the favor-asking. Instead, offer yourself up as a resource. Provide value by sending a useful link or offering advice. It’s the mutually beneficial relationships that make networking worthwhile.
Ensure your relationships are mutually beneficial by creating an action plan for networking. List out the individuals who will be instrumental in helping you achieve your success and those you could influence, as well. These could be people you already know or those you’d like to meet someday. As you develop your network, offering support to your peers will build your reputation and open the door for an abundance to opportunities.
3. Follow-up and follow-through
Stay relevant and maintain contact with your network. Whether that means sending a thoughtful email, making a phone call just to check in, scheduling a coffee or regularly attending networking events.
Leverage the relationships you sow by putting forth the effort. You’ll find that you will be seen as a reliable, relevant source, which will lead to a strengthened network and positive business opportunities.