Exercise Your Networking Muscles!
There’s no doubt about it, if you’ve got weak a network you’re missing out on one of the best ways to supercharge achieving your professional goals. Start building some networking muscle with our 11 networking exercises to give your business and career a power lift!
Great networking skills put you within the social chain of opportunity. It’s a well-known fact that many opportunities resulted from synergistic networking-knowing someone who knew the ideal someone else.
The internet provides many opportunities to network never available before. It’s not as important to network face to face, but it’s still necessary to optimize your networking efforts with great networking habits.
Everyone you meet is an opportunity to further build your network strategically and find what power networkers refer to as the critical few. These are the connections who can make priceless introductions that catapult you to exponential opportunity not available to those professionals who do not possess strong networking muscle or exercise networking as a consistent professional wellness practice.
Commit to spend time every week networking and making new contacts with these strength builders:
- Examine your current resources. You already know someone that is well-connected. Think about all your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers. Consider your entire social network. Maybe you’re a member of a church, charity, country club, business chamber, or a local professional group. Leverage those contacts effectively by connecting on social media, especially LinkedIn. Invest time and effort to get to know the people in your circles. Be engaged and listen for opportunities to provide meaningful introductions for them or anything that would have value to build the relationship. Differentiate yourself by being a person of word and action focusing first on what you can give instead of what you get.
- The key to effective networking is consistency and persistence. A little each day is more effective than a monumental effort every once in a while. It’s like going to the gym. You need to be consistent in your efforts if you want to see big results.
Set aside time to reach out to people each week. Once you identify a synergistic, mutually beneficial connection have a system of staying in touch. These are things like checking in with your network monthly or quarterly.
Networking is the long game. Too many professionals meet once on a ZOOM call and write off relationships too early. Or they put no effort in getting to know people on a human level. If it isn’t beneficial to them immediately, they lose interest. Networking is like planting a business growth seed. Once planted it takes time to grow and bear fruit.
- Join relevant local and national organizations. Whether you’re a founder, CEO, solopreneur, executive, or plumber, there are organizations that cater to your needs and interests. Get involved. In some cases, employers will foot the bill. Do some research and then join those organizations that are the best fit.
- Get skilled at social media. Linkedin.com is great for networking. Invest the time to understand how to use it to your advantage and connect with the professionals that are the best fit for your goals. Utilize social media and make your personal brand known to the world. Intentionally grow your online network by connecting with new people weekly.
- Be proactive. You can’t just stand in the middle of the crowd at a networking event and expect people to line up for the privilege of talking to you. Practice how you will introduce yourself. Make it clear and concise in a manner that helps the listener understand your unique professional advantage. Coaching is a fantastic way to hone a clever and memorable method of introducing yourself, building rapport and setting a meeting for a virtual coffee with your critical few. The critical few are the ideal networking connections that are a perfect fit for your networking goals.
The burden is on you to start conversations. You’ll get much better with practice and it will become a more enjoyable way to grow your business and your career.
- Be like Socrates and cultivate the skill of asking great questions. It’s hard to maintain a conversation by asking questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no”. Ask questions that demonstrate your insight as well as your curiosity and interest in other humans. Open-ended questions that you plan in advance are one of the best ways to build relationships at networking events.
- Follow up like your business depends on it. Communicating with someone one time won’t do much for you. Reach out to the most promising contacts you’ve made and touch base. Stay in touch.
- It’s unrealistic to expect to receive more effort and value than you provide. You truly receive what you give when it comes to networking. You won’t get much if you don’t give much. Make a real effort to generously help others.
- Focus on quality over quantity. Passing out your business card like you’re passing out car wash coupons won’t do you a lot of good. Make an effort to make a few real connections rather than throwing a 100 darts at the wall. Quality counts.
- Connect others together. This can be especially powerful. Bring other people together. This is especially easy to do and can pay off down the road for your own career.
- Avoid selling or asking for anything. If every time you reach out to someone, you’re trying to get something from them, people will tire of you very quickly. Instead, give them something like an article, endorsement, or other valuable tidbit.
Networking is necessary for growing business in our remote working environments and disconnected professional cultures. It can be an effective way to begin the process of building valuable business relationships.
Cathleen Mancino is a former Tech CEO. She is a CEO Coach working with individuals and organizations to optimize performance professionally and personally. She is the Founder of Girl Unafraid, a Coaching, Mastermind and Event company that helps women fearlessly go after their goals. Cathleen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org