6 tips to help you make sure your business networking is FIT for purpose.
AUTHOR: Heather Townsend
The vast majority of people when networking have pleasant conversations, which lead precisely nowhere. It’s a big sweeping statement, but from my research for The Financial Times Guide to Business Networking, I found this to be true. This is the reason I devised The FITTER™ model. This is my own model which I have developed over the last few years and used to train professionals and business owners on how to network in a time efficient manner. This model gives you a simple mnemonic which, if applied to your networking activities, will enable you to network efficiently and effectively anywhere and anytime.
FITTER™ stands for:
Follow up: Your follow up is crucial to your networking success. After meeting new people, decide on whether they are an A, B or C-lister; send them a note after meeting them, connect with them on social networking sites and add them to your relationship management systems. Follow up is more than the ‘one cup of coffee’, it’s important to make sure that you build the relationship after the event, rather than just leaving them as a name in your LinkedIn connections or relationship management database.
Introduce yourself with impact: You never get another chance to make another first impression. A good first impression enables you to start and build a mutually beneficial relationship. Don’t forget the most people meet you online first, so make sure that your online presence, and particularly your LinkedIn profile showcase the best sides of you!
Target specific people: Your time is precious, so make sure you know who you want to meet and why you want to meet them. See if you can arrange to meet people at an event, rather than hope you will meet them at an event. LinkedIn and Twitter are great tools to contact people before meeting them for the first time at an event.
Turn social conversations into business chat: Remember, regardless of whether you meet someone online or in real life, it’s not about pitching or qualifying them as a prospect. Build the relationship first... So, before you start talking business, take your time to get to know the person first and generate some rapport. Once rapport has been established, then move the conversation onto business topics.
Engage: So many people treat networking, and in particular online networking passively. They just expect the relationship will grow and build over time. Well yes, however, if you manage the relationship proactively, it will grow faster and you will benefit from the relationship earlier. So what do I mean by managing the relationship proactively. If you see a name, or have a conversation with them and you think you could benefit from a deeper relationship, then take the next step. Normally this is a further meeting, or if you have met them online initiating a phone call or face-to-face meeting.
Research: Your research will enable you to focus only on the events worth attending, the people who will be beneficial to you to meet or re-connect with and help equip you with interesting topics to talk about.
Author Credit: Heather Townsend helps professionals achieve business and career success using networking and social media. She is the writer of ‘The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking’, Accountancy Age’s ‘Networker’ columnist and regularly blogs at Partnership Potential and Joined Up Networking.