There are many books, articles, blogs and speeches aimed at giving you the tools to become more effective at networking. Many of them are very valid and packed with great information, but they can be a bit overwhelming.
Here, I’d like to simplify networking from a personal branding perspective by offering you tools and tips for becoming more effective at identifying potential networking relationships and building a great intentional network of contacts.
It all comes down to being S.A.V.V.Y.:
Intentional networking takes the randomness out of meeting people. When I advise professionals on building strategic and intentional relationships,the focus is on mutual benefit, opportunity to add value and seeing beyond just the transaction.
Why leave something as important as your contacts and relationships to chance? Should you just “hope” you’ll know the right people? That they will just be able to figure out what makes you relevant and compelling? And that by some cosmic osmosis, they will think of you when a great opportunity arises?
Instead, approach your intentional networking strategically. Ask yourself:
- Who do I know?
- Who do I need to know?
- How will I meet them?
- What do I have to offer them?
- How can I help my key networking contacts understand what makes me compelling and relevant?
- How will I provide them with information, insight and the tools to refer me to ideal opportunities?
Networks of key contacts do no good sitting on a shelf. It’s hard to expect your network to be able to provide you with value, or allow you to reciprocate with an offer, if they don’t know how to help you. (Click here to tweet this thought.)
- How can I create a robust database of my network?
- How will I stay in touch?
- What do I need from my network?
- How can I remind them of the value, tools, resources and contacts I bring to our relationship?
Does it matter if your network considers you a “nice guy” versus a thought leader with passion for information technology applied to K-12 education?
You bet it does! Nice guys get invited to backyard barbecues, birthday parties and movie premieres. Thought leaders in their industry are included in critical conversations that move an agenda forward.
When considering how to articulate and promote your value proposition, begin by getting clear on what you can offer, who needs that offer and how you can communicate your offer authentically so as to create action and interest from your network.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- Have I found “my voice”?
- Am I able to articulate my value proposition?
- What’s my elevator pitch? Can I explain what I do and how I am different/compelling, and provide an example of my value, in a 30- or 60-second pitch?
Similar to a network that’s actionable, you need to be visible and top of mind with your contacts. Life is too busy to expect most people to will remember you if a great opportunity arises. Instead of leaving your fate to chance, create a system for remaining top-of-mind with key contacts, reminding them of your offer, value and resources, and continue to provide value to your network of equal or greater value than they give you.
- Am I showing up in the right places?
- Am I showing up in the right way?
- Has time passed since I last contacted my network with either a suggestion, article of interest or offer?
Most effective networkers admit they say “yes” more than “no.” Raising your hand, volunteering and offering assistance/connections/support often endears you to others and puts you in a more visible position to articulate your value proposition.
When we get busy and clients, prospects, employees and colleagues compete for our precious time, it’s hard to say “yes” to a new inquiry. But consider agreeing to more than you turn down. Momentum and visibility are valuable, and when times get busy, we often forget to “prime the pump” and keep our name out there.
How will you revitalize your networking? Let us know in the comments!
This post originally appeared on Unleashing Your Brand.