I’ve heard a few of you say, “I HATE NETWORKING.”

To you, I say: You just ain’t doing it right. [yes, AIN’T]

A lot of people hate the word “Networking” but I believe it is because it has been abused for promotional reasons and underutilized in the appropriate setting.

You know that conference you just went to? That bus ride home? That time you sat at the bar alone? the mixer you attended last week? Did you exchange business cards or contact information with ANYONE?

Oh, you did meet people….. How many of those people have you emailed just to say: “Great Meeting You!”

How many of those contacts have you connected with on LinkedIn?

My guess: NONE

At least 95% of people do one thing VERY well – we never follow up.

And before we even get to the follow-up – let’s start with the basics.

A few steps to Effective Networking:

1. 30-second rule: In the words of Catherine Davis (Career Strategist) and Ashley Cash (Career Coach) prepare your “PERSONAL BRAND STATEMENT.”  Be prepared to state who you are and what you do(or want to do) within 30 seconds. Anyone that is serious about business is not really interested in anything other than the BOTTOM LINE. How can I help you, how can you help me. Period. Point. Blank.

2. DON’T TRY TO SELL PEOPLE! No one likes to get SOLD! Get to know a person first. Rather you own a business or not, we are all in the business of building relationships. Relationships are the “bread and butter” of business. People do not do business with those that they do not like.

Connect the Dots – Rather it’s your hometown, mutual friend, alma mater, ideas to offer, or old job – try to find a common denominator to continue the conversation. This should be natural and unforced. You may not have anything in common or anything to offer, but if you – keep it going.

3. Exchange information: Be sure to have your cards, marketing docs, or virtual business card available to exchange.
Definition of exchange – Give something and receive something of the same kind in return.Don’t just throw your business cards out to everyone and then go home waiting on a call or email. Be sure to get the other person’s information
Which leads to step #4.

4. FOLLOW-UP! FOLLOW-UP! FOLLOW-UP! Send an email, make a phone call, or if suggested – send a text message (least favorite). In your follow up, propose a low-barrier next step. If you have an immediate need or idea to offer, then suggest a 15-minute phone conversation continue engagement. This can be just as effective as a face-to-face meeting but less demanding. This can determine if you need to continue the business relationship.

5. “If you want to be around IMPORTANT PEOPLE, you must go where IMPORTANT PEOPLE are…. because they aren’t coming to you!” – George Fraser

For the people that say they can never meet any like-minded people, I encourage you to join the various Young Professional Organizations in your city.

6. Don’t expect immediate results just from showing up to an event and exchanging your business cards. Networking sets the stage. It’s the foundation of the house you’re preparing to build. It’s the bread you need to make a sandwich (LOL) But seriously, once the connection is made, genuine, organic relationships are how businesses are built and money is made. Stop expecting overnight results.

Don’t let your allergy of “Networking” prevent you from meeting the person that could lead you to the rewarding career, completely turn your business around, even turn a vision into reality.

As always, #SUKG Shut Up Keep Grinding®

– Jada D.

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