Top Ten Tips on...
Go with a clear purpose
if you attend a conference or seminar, with the idea of 'networking' then go with a clear purpose. Don't spend your time aimlessly drifting around, picking up brochures and small freebies, and leaving your business card in goldfish bowls. That rarely does you any good. Instead, consider what you want to get from your investment of time and money. Who do you want to meet, have a face to face interaction with? THAT should be why you are going...then make that happen - maybe even before you attend...
It's not simply about listing your contacts - anyone can do that. It's about KIT: Keeping In Touch. Maintain contact:
write to them
send them stuff you know they are likely to be interested in
invite them to...a meeting, lunch, be a guest speaker...
let them know what you might be able to do for them...
Use social media
everyone knows about social media - but not everyone uses it well. Are you connected to others specifically - and if so, why them - and do you KIT? Think: what would make someone you want to connect to read anything you post? What will be your hook, your attention grabber? And remember that all social media feed takes place quickly - in the blink of an eye. Don't assume that because you've published it, the majority of your contacts will have seen it, let alone read it. Seriously - how far down will you scroll before you become bored, or some other task takes you away? So post regularly and often...and check to see if there is any relationship between your posts and any spike in visits to your site.
Acknowledge your contacts
again, don't be passive with your network. Value them - for instance, by referring to them (assuming they are ok with that). Keep them in important and interesting loops. It may even be worthwhile being interested in things they are interested in, so you build common interest and common ground - which gives you easier access. And thank them for anything they do for you; and like their posts...
Keep your profile up to date
it's no use driving people to your social media sites and then having a profile that isn't accurate or up to date. Anyone looking at your profile will get a sense of how active and up to date you are. If your last profile entry refers to you as you were 2 years ago, then you will look lazy and underinvesting in yourself...
Create network groups
you can become an individual network hub - signposting members of your network to other members, and gaining a reputation as a gatekeeper to a wider range of networks. Remember: and keeping the maths simple, if you have 10 people in your network, and they each have 10 people, with no overlap, that's 100 people you have potential contact with at one remove. At a second remove, that becomes 1000... And if I have (say) 1000 personal contacts on Linked In, and (say) 5% of these repost a post of mine into their network, then 50 people may well have increased my post's potential coverage by (say) 50 x 50 - 2,500. So always regard your individual network connections as gatekeepers to their own network groups, and encourage them to repost your post....
A group of museum and heritage managers attended a 'Museums Resilience & Leadership' programme which ended early in March 2020. They set up a 'What's App' group which is still going strong, 2 years later, and has helped everyone in the group not only stay in touch over the pandemic, but also provided much-valued support and advice - a terrific example of a brilliant network in action.
Ask for help
we seem to have a culture in the UK of avoiding asking someone for their help, which is a real shame. I think people don't like asking - perhaps because they fear rejection, or because they don't want to impose on someone who is likely to be busy. But to me, this is restrictive thinking. If you want something from someone, then ask. If they say no, you are no worse off (in fact, slightly better off, because you now know that avenue is closed); and of course if they say 'yes', then you are massively better off. So to me, asking is a no brainer. And often, someone who is asked is often flattered by the request: after all, you have selected them, from everyone else you could have asked - and most people like to feel valued...so go on: ask...
Ask your contacts to refer you
this relates to the earlier comment. Your own network will be connected to their network. So do all you can to encourage your network to promote you, your web, your posts, to their network. And it goes back to the previous point of asking: if they say no, or just don't do it -well, you're no worse off; but if they say yes, and do - then you are a lot better off.
Gather their details rather than give out yours
if meeting with someone you want to get or stay in touch with, ask for their contact details rather than give them yours. Because this means you are in control of making a further contact, rather than relying on them.
Have a networking strategy and budget
if you regard networking as important, and a key part of your business and marketing strategy - then treat it as such. Set regular time aside to invest in it, and even have a budget. And if you have staff, encourage them to do the same....
Related courses & resources...
Positive Workplace Relationships
Feedback, Performance & Workplace Relationships
'A Small Problem of Size'
& the CRATE experience
Top Ten Tips on...
Traps for Busy People
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