Anyone can grow a large network. Most of us grow our network naturally on a daily basis by socialising with friends, interacting on social media and developing business relationships at work. But building a diverse network takes thought and planning, and in the long term is much more rewarding.
There’s absolutely no point in having hundreds of contacts and a box full of business cards from people you’ve met if they’re never going to offer value. Networking isn’t a competition. It’s not like the person who dies with the biggest collection of business cards wins. It’s quality not quantity and less is more.
Building a diverse network is about building real relationships, proactively developing them – and most importantly, giving more than you take. Successful networkers don’t walk into a roomful of people thinking: ‘What’s in this for me’ but rather: ‘What can I offer’. Attending an event with a true spirit of generosity is when the magic of diversity happens in business.
I’ve been asked countless times, ‘How do you develop a strong diverse network if you dread networking’? I appreciate that few of us are natural networkers, but the good news is that networking is 100% coachable.
If the thought of networking sparks fear, anxiety or a cold sweat then you’re not alone. Most people look forward to it like a visit to the dentist. You might hear people say that networking is a waste of time and money, but that’s because they’re not doing it right. Successful networkers plan. I have a networking plan and I’ve used it for over 25 years. Think about it for a moment, networking is a key business activity; you wouldn’t run a business without a business plan; so why would you network and hope to be successful without a networking plan? Create a plan with purpose. Keep it simple, the simpler the better and start planning today.
Planning saves you time, energy and money. Plan where to network and who with, find out who the speakers are, find out who else is attending, check out the venue, check the cost of attending against value for money, research the host looking for any success stories, industry contributions, blogs etc. A little research and planning before an event will help spare you the discomfort of any anxiety and fear of the unknown. By forming a simple habit, you’ll soon master the process of planning for an event then you can focus on the really good stuff of what to do when attending an event!
The number one top tip for networking is to get out there and network. Avoid events that don’t work for you and interact with the ones that do work! Above all have fun, enjoy new experiences and watch your diverse network grow.
Founder, Mingle For Business