The best networkers seek relationships with people where they both gain something. Good networkers are not interested in meeting and greeting people just to sell them things. In friendships and family relationships, a "taker" is rarely welcomed or respected. The same is true in business. Become known as a "giver" who provides assistance, resources, and guidance and people will look for ways to help you in return.
The real challenge is finding the time to network. Here are three steps you can use to create a good networking plan. By remembering the #1 rule of networking and planning effectively, you can develop relationships that will help your business grow.
Strategically plan your networking.
Think about people who would be good contacts for your business. If you're not a financial expert, develop a strong relationship with an accountant. If you need to reach parents, network at school events. Set aside time every month for networking -- try having lunch with one new person a week or go to three networking events every month.
Prepare for networking.
Before a networking meeting, make sure you have plenty of business cards. Do some research on the people who may attend so you have conversation-starters. Be a good listener when meeting new people.
Follow-up after meeting someone.
Send a card, leave a message, or send an E-mail telling the person it was great meeting them. Ask if you can put them on your contact list and send them information about your company. Regularly send articles or other information that may be helpful to them.