Networking successfully takes time and dedication. If you’ve ever networked before, you know that it can often feel like running in place — you’re working hard but not getting anywhere. At its core, networking is about forming connections with other professionals that last into the future. And once that connection is formed, you can see the benefits for your business and professional network with referrals or job opportunities. So how do you establish good connections? Here are four secrets to success when you’re networking for business.
The biggest secret to success when networking is to build relationships. This may feel obvious, but it’s not how many people approach networking for business. We know how important building relationships is when making new friends or interacting with new coworkers, but when thinking of networking, there’s less of a focus on building lasting relationships. Instead, the focus is often on what another person can do for you. While there comes a point when a professional connection can be asked for business support or referrals, you have to build the relationship first.
Business relationships don’t happen overnight. Establishing connections that can help build your business takes time and energy. While networking isn’t a process you can rush, consider how you can maximize your networking efforts to see the most results for your business. Consider regular networking groups, where you’ll be more likely to interact with the same people more frequently — a crucial component of building networking relationships that will last.
When you attend networking events, there’s usually one or two people at any given event who have you thinking, “Wow, they’d be a great connection for my business.” In order to build a relationship with them, you’ll need to be persistent in your efforts to connect. At networking events, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. With persistence, you can make yourself stand out to the people who you want to get to know further. Whether it’s asking for their business card, sending an email, or making a point to engage in conversation with them every time you see them at an event, it’s only with continual effort that you can transform a networking acquaintance into an established relationship that supports your business.
Networking in a large group of people can feel challenging when you only have a few short minutes to connect with someone before their attention is taken up by someone else. In order to establish a relationship that could help you grow your business by referrals, you’ll need to have the time and space to connect with another professional, share information about your business, and hear details about their professional work. The best opportunity to do so is with a networking one-on-one. One-on-ones can be a coffee, lunch, or Zoom meeting where the focus is on connecting as professionals without the distractions of a larger networking event happening around you.
4BR can help you meet your business and professional goals with focused, regular networking groups. Our groups provide structured opportunities to enhance your professional development, meet professionals in industries outside of your own, and grow your business by building a referral network. Learn more about 4BR groups and find a group near you.