Inspired by an article in Cosmo, Interior Designer and West One Education Co-ordinator Marie-Noelle Swiderski outlines some top tips for spicing up your networking!
1. Speak up
If you’re bored in your networking, be honest, but make sure you phrase things positively and constructively and take the lead – what business contact would say no to their counterpart being inventive?
2. Rubbish the routine
Statistically speaking, networkers are most comfortable with a couple of set types of interactions, but it’s still important to have a large networking repertoire and inject excitement simply by changing the way or the time or the place you network. Take a walk or go for a drink with a potential referral, share some personal interests and passions to add context – get creative with the scenario as well as the content.
3. Think outside your box
One of the biggest networking myths is that the networking will take care of itself. But after the first year, you have to put as much effort into your networking life as you do choosing the right breakfast. Your biggest networking organ is between your ears, not elsewhere! Free your mind: how best can you support your fellow members, how best can they support you – perhaps differently than you have so far?
4. Claw back your confidence
If you’ve lost confidence outside of the chapter meetings, that will translate into your calls and emails. Don’t put yourself in any type of networking situation where you may set yourself up to fail. If you don’t feel like networking then don’t do it. Gain some confidence by getting to know your own networking mind and learn how to bring yourself to your best performance – and practice, practice, practice! You’ll feel more confident because you’re in control.
5. Take risks
Don’t be afraid to start divulging your ideal client with peers and business contacts alike – there are no judgments here. Don’t feel pressured into toning your aspirations down, but keep an open mind – you never know where the best networking referral may come from. Just because a particular contact doesn’t feel right today – you may see them differently in a few weeks or months.
6. Communicate; don’t give up
The main reason networkers shut down is because they don’t feel their business needs are being met. To improve the mutual benefits of your networking, have clear communication about what is not working or what is missing for you. It is not about criticising, rather identifying the issues and working together to resolve them.
7. Get into the groove
Your networking is affected by so many things, if you’re tired or stressed or discouraged you’re not going to feel like networking. Your networking cycle is pretty simple – it starts with the need for connections, to support and help grow your business, it then generates interest and motivation, followed by you contacting and enrolling new business partners and allies, to everyone’s satisfaction. But all is not lost if you find yourself back to stage zero. Take a breath or a break, and start afresh.
8. Make space for networking
Just because circumstances have changed – you have lost business, we are all on Zoom, you have meetings in your pajamas, – it doesn’t mean your networking life should stop. We all have to work at ensuring we still connect and reach out regularly – but we can still have excitement in long-term relationships, have a 1-2-3 with some of our power team members and common potential referrals, or with members whose professions we find challenging to refer to. Let’s get a new mindset, get rid of the clutter in our minds and turn it into a networking boudoir.
9. Show and tell
Show and tell your fellow members what and who you are looking for – most of the time, we give how we like to receive, but don’t expect your peers to be mind readers. If you’re getting bored with your favourite 60 seconds try varying it – networking is also about trial and error, try presenting your business in a totally different way to how you did before. Through experimenting you can recapture that initial intense attention from your peers.
10. Remember the rules
Networking is as much about feeling good in your business as it is about making your peers feel good in their business. It should be honest and creative and focused. Use all of your networks to enrich your BNI’s, keep your message fresh and your ears pricked, keep updating your outlook and your approach. If you put the effort in, you’ll be networking like you did when you first signed up.
I am sure you will agree at this point that I don’t need to quote anybody but Ivan Misner, and remind you that Givers do indeed Gain!