Building a strong social network is easy if you’re a natural networker. As a journalist who trained and developed contacts in the days before social media, I do know it’s a skill that can be learned.
The best social networker is a ‘connector’. This is someone the author Malcolm Gladwell suggests doesn’t just know a lot of people. They make friends easily wherever they go and help connect others too.
Like everything else in business, you should have a strategy for networking.
Find out about and attend some local meetups or business network meetings to widen your network organically; sign up for alerts for business events in your area.
Next, have a think about who you should connect with and why.
Will this connection create introductions for you and will their expertise mesh well with yours? Creating the right strategic relationship is crucial. Never try to sell to someone without building a meaningful relationship first.
My motto is always build connections before you need them.
People who network and end up with a stack of business cards have completely missed the mark. You can’t meet 50 people in a week and expect to instantly have a network. It takes time.
We’ve all gone to an event and met that one person whose sole purpose seems to be introducing himself to everyone, giving out
his card to anyone nearby and then moving on to the next batch of humans. He’s not someone you generally stick with!
So the number one tip of networking that I can give you is to treat all potential connections as friends.
I treat all people I meet as a possible friend. Find some mutual interests and develop a relationship with your connections. Help them connect with other mutually beneficial people. Create a long-lasting and solid relationship that can be beneficial to you both.
Want to become a good connector? Here are three ideas to help you build a quality network.
1. Pay attention and if you can’t, develop some depth. There’s
nothing worse than trying to speak to someone who is
constantly fidgeting, looking around or interrupting your
every sentence. Maintain eye contact, listen attentively and
you’re well on your way to fostering a genuine relationship.
2. Be helpful. Value quality over quantity. It’s far more
valuable to develop connections with five quality people at
an event than 50 “contacts” whose names you’ll never
3. Follow-up. So many of us forget to do this. But following up
to see how the initial meeting went with no agenda will not
only help you maintain your connections, but foster the
relationship to a different level. We’re living in a world of take
take take, so showing that you care about someone as a
friend will put you on the next level with any of your