Networking works. It works in small markets. It works in large markets. But you really have to have your head and heart in the right place.
A few tips I follow when networking:
1) Give first
Have you ever gone to a networking meeting and been attacked by someone that wants to tell you all about their business and throw cards down your throat? And the only thing that person seems to have on their mind is convincing everyone how great their product is. Annoying, right?!
You’ve heard the famous saying “People do business with people they know, like and trust.” How much do you trust the show up and throw up person? Not much.
So my suggestion is to REALLY and SINCERELY learn about someone’s business. Find out about them. And figure out a way to help them (even if it’s as simple as providing them some value about something they like or need).
2) Build relationships
When you are networking, decide to ‘meet friends’ and build relationships. You can always find someone interesting and amazing. Take the time to really get to know people.
3) Be Consistent
I’ve had so many people tell me that networking doesn’t work. I ask what they did. They showed up at a few events and (oh so surprisingly) they didn’t have clients just show up and give them business.
You have to show up and be consistent. Once you establish yourself as a person that is consistent and reliable, people can start to trust you (but you have to prove yourself trustworthy).
4) Follow Up
Another way to be consistent, is to follow up with every person you meet. I typically try to ‘touch’ people I meet 2-3 times within a 2 week period of meeting someone.
I send a ‘nice to meet’ note (only if I truly mean it…I’m not a good faker). I send an email. I also try to connect with them on LinkedIn.
Following up allows you to start the relationship and begin a friendship. And going to networking events is a lot easier if you can be around friends.