10 Secrets of Effective Networking

A Da Vinci Byte by Mark Fuller, Da Vinci Faculty member.

Many business opportunities are missed because we are either afraid to network or do not know how to network effectively. This tool not only exposes you and your business to a wider network of contacts but also gives you an advantage when people in your network are recruiting or contracting. Networking is about building authentic relationships. According to Josephine Fairly people first approach their personal networks before looking on Google for connections. The 1st secret to effective networking is to approach it with the view of what can you offer others rather than what can you get. People will pay more attention and take more notice of someone who can help them rather than someone looking for help.

“NETWORKING is more about ‘farming’ than it is about ‘hunting’. It’s about cultivating relationships”. – Dr Ivan Misner

The 2nd secret is to be the one with the memorable handshake. First impressions do count. A firm, dry handshake with a steady gaze in the eyes will create an impression of confidence and control.
The 3rd secret is to have a well-practiced and effective “elevator pitch”. This 90-second pitch should grab the listener’s attention and make them want to continue the conversation. The pitch could contain elements such as what you do, where you work, your goals and/or clients. It gives a sense of who you are.
The 4th and most commonly ignored secret is to listen. Use your elevator pitch to break the ice then give others an opportunity to tell their story. Keep on asking yourself “What can I offer this person?” By asking open and empowering questions opportunities may arise. Remember an opportunity may just be an introduction to someone else who can help.
The 5th secret is to focus on building a diverse network rather than a large one. Make an effort to attend both personal and business networking events. Diversity according to Malcolm Forbes is the art of thinking differently together. It is important if we are to be able to effectively face the futures new VUCA challenges. If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go with others. (African Proverb) The 6th secret is always to have your business cards handy. This is your first expression of real interest, an opportunity that should never be missed.
The 7th secret is to log your contacts immediately after an event. More than half of the people who collect cards will not look at them again. Write on the back of the card what you can do for them or what they can do for you then add them to your LinkedIn network. This way you regularly stay in touch.
The 8th secret is to reach out at every opportunity. Every ‘free moment’ is an opportunity to email or call someone. These could be birthdays or some information that you think someone might find useful or interesting.
The 9th secret is do more than ‘just connect’. It takes time to build a relationship and establish trust so find common interests (or events) to connect on multiple levels. Humans bond through shared experiences.
Finally the 10th secret is to remember that networking is not a competition. It is about building and actively maintaining a diverse network of authentic relationships – not focusing on the number of contacts. Most importantly give more than you get.