Instead of “networking”, I challenge you to think of it as “connecting”. Connecting those contacts to you, your network, your information. To make this simple, I encourage you to do three things:
None of these steps require you to “sell”, but they will make a significant positive impact on your business’s sales. Here’s how:
Start by building on relationships with people you already know. This includes your family, extended family, high school friends, college friends, neighbors, work associates, clients, competitors, fellow soccer moms, everyone. Talk to them. Learn about what makes them happy. Where do they spend their time? What are their struggles? This is the important one. I will explain why shortly. The key is to be a good listener. Ask more than you talk. Get to know them. Simply treat them like they are the most important person you have met all day. Make them feel good by listening. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Once this becomes natural to you, extend this process to every new person you meet- personally and professionally.
Now that you know about them and their life, you can create value for them. If they have struggles with something personally or professionally, offer to introduce them to someone who can help. Provide the tools, articles, suggestions to help them attain their goals, big and small. Offer them some of your expertise for free, if you need to, which will not only build credibility for you, but will help them. Help them expand their network and connections by introducing them to your relevant contacts from Step 1. Find ways to add value to their lives. Not sure how you can help them? Ask them specifically. “How can I help you?” Do little gestures like sending notes, texts, phone calls, etc. so they know you are genuinely thinking of them.
Yes, this takes time and is work. But again, it’s an investment that I promise will provide significant ROI (return on investment). The most successful networkers give more than they receive. Warning: Don’t go into a relationship thinking “how can this person help me”. People sense that and don’t typically refer or work with connections that seem one-sided. You must care for this to all work.
In the meantime, spend time building your brand or reputation. How do you want to be thought of? What attributes do you want people to think of when your name comes up? Integrity? Intelligence? Expertise? Kindness? Great follow-through? Global thinker? Extrovert? Someone with hustle? This is all unique to you. Once you give that some thought, start thinking of ways you can illustrate those traits. Share content on social media or with your network that supports those characteristics. You can share content that you create or things that you see that others have created that you feel like your connections would appreciate too. Volunteer in organizations that support those ideals. Connect with like-minded individuals to share your goals, thoughts, and perspective.
To tie this together. First, build true connections where you know them, and they know you. Create value to strengthen those connections. And then when you have ways to communicate with them (in person, email, text, social media, etc), continually share points to stay top of mind with them and further enhance their knowledge of you and how you may be a resource for them.
The result: People will think of you because they like you, they trust you, they consider you someone who can be a help to themselves or someone else in their network. You will find by investing in others, the rewards include the wonderful feeling you get from supporting others, and as importantly, the wonderful byproduct is that it also will increase your own business.
My name is Lisa Keslar, and I’m co-owner of Keslar Insurance with my husband, David. We offer home, auto, business and life insurance in NH, ME and MA. As an independent agency, we offer a long list of highly rated insurance carriers which allows us to shop for our customers for the best coverages at the best price. We do that all at no additional charge to customers.