By Janette Whitney, published on 15th November 2010
As the saying goes ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’ so how can you widen your network of contacts to create the network that is important to your business? Here are 10 tips to help you create the network you want.
Be alert for opportunities to meet new people
Everyone is connected. The typical person knows about 250 other people. Each time one new person feels they know, like and trust you, potentially another 250 people may also come too.
Be open to people knowing you
It’s not just about whom you know, it’s more about who knows you. Share something of yourself, allow people to get to know you. You will be more memorable.
Find new ways to meet people
It’s always easier to meet new people when you share an experience .Most schools and universities have alumni organisations containing people in a wide range of occupations. Whatever you do, there will be a relevant professional organisation where you can meet other people in your field. More importantly, get invitations to meetings held by institutes and trade bodies where your clients are.
Don’t be too choosy
Consider all invitations to events even if they don’t initially interest you. Such events can still often turn out to offer valuable networking opportunities and that is what you are there for. You never know who’s going to be there. If you have time, go along,
Carry distinctive business cards
Make sure you have plenty of business cards and don’t be shy about passing them out. Be distinctive. Have something about you (clothes, accessories, tie) that people will remember and associate with your card.
Follow up with personalised notes
Follow up meeting new contacts with a handwritten note saying how much you enjoyed meeting them. Takes a little longer than an email, but gives a really good impression and cements you in the person’s memory banks.
Create a brief ‘script’ you can use at events
To stop you fumbling for answers when you meet new people, jot down your brief reply to ‘what you do’, what your company does, and what makes you and your company unique. Then practise it!!
Find out that you’re great
Think about all the people you know and identify one fan, a person who thinks you’re interesting or fun. Ask him or her to tell you what makes you good company. It will help you to feel less inhibited when talking to strangers. At least one person thinks you are great!
Show a genuine interest in people
Start by first listening to the other people. If nothing else, it helps you to relax. Ask them questions about themselves and really listen to the replies. Listen well, respond promptly and maintain eye contact.
Keep a key people list
Make and maintain a list of everybody you know who has some relevance to your work. Use either a CRM software system or create your own excel spreadsheet/manual card system – whatever works best for you. Regularly (at least weekly) select one person for a ‘hello, how are you?’ call. Update your contact details with what you learn from meeting people.