Networking Know-How: 13 Ways To Make Your Connections Count

Networking is not collecting business  cards. Networking is creating a pool of  sources from which you can draw clients,  resources, referrals and opportunities.  This pool of people is called your  “sphere of influence.”

Weeks after meeting a travel consultant  at an event, I received a huge packet of  promotional material in the mail. This  costly packet was sent without a hello  note, business card or follow-up call.  What a waste of paper, postage and  energy! Attractive, innovative marketing  materials are far less important than a  smile and a handshake.

Success in business is not about products  or services. It is about people getting to  know who you are and what you do. Your  success is not solely dependent on your  product or service. Your success depends  on the width and depth of the people in  your sphere of influence. Business success  should be attributed to the people  who know you, like you and trust you, the  people in your sphere of influence. These people should be your friends, your  clients, your vendors, members of groups  you belong to, and anyone else you have  ever met with whom you maintain contact.  The people in your sphere of influence  will send you referrals; they are the  people you call when you have a question,  and are a great resource for you and  your clients.

Making Your Connections Count

1 Increase the number of people you  come in contact with. Go to networking  events, join a professional organization, or  put together a workshop. Set goals for  meeting new people each week. Then create  an action list to meet that goal.

• 2 Tell people you are interested in  expanding your sphere of influence. Ask  what they do to meet people and if they  can introduce you to people you would  like to meet.

• 3 Create rapport. Put your attention on  the person you are talking to. Make eye  contact, smile and give a good handshake.  Ask questions about things that  interest them, their business, their industry  and their professional affiliations.

• 4 Make an effort to learn and remember  names and use them in conversation.  People will remember you when you  remember them.

• 5 Always get a business card when you  meet someone. After you leave, make  notes on the card. Write where you met  them and something about them that will  help you remember them when you look  at their card later. Also note any action  items you agreed to do, i.e., follow-up  with them next week or send a brochure.

• 6 Always send a handwritten note after  you meet someone you want in your  sphere of influence. The note need not say  more than “nice to meet you.” Print note  cards with your photo on them to ensure  that people will remember who you are,  and your note will make more impact.  Don’t send someone a solicitation letter.

• 7 Refer people to each other in your  sphere of influence. When you put two  people together and it goes well, you  become a hero.

• 8 Create a contact schedule. How often  are you going to contact everyone in your  sphere of influence: monthly, quarterly,  semiannually? How are you going to  contact them: by phone, with a note, by  sending a newsletter?

• 9 Consider holding an annual event for  your sphere of influence. You could partner  with a friend in a complementary  business and double your sphere of influence  in one night.

• 10 Thank people who refer business to  you at least three times: with a phone  call, with a note and by thanking them in  person, in front of other people. Everybody  appreciates recognition!

• 11 Do not focus on getting business  immediately. Focus on creating a solid  relationship with people so they know  you, like you and trust you. Eventually, they will refer business to you or become  a regular customer.

• 12 Create a system for keeping track of  people; record information that is important  to them: their spouse’s name, their  professional affiliations, any awards they  have won, etc.

• 13 Invite someone you want to know  better to events that you know would be  of interest to them. This is a simple, easy  way to build a relationship.

Support Your Business
People buy from you when they know you,  like you and trust you. Business is not  about what you do or how you do it.  Business is about relationships and helping  others overcome their challenges and  meet their objectives, about finding out  what needs to be done and doing it.  Provide people with support and you will  build a large sphere of influence that  supports your business.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Meet the Author
Caterina Rando is a speaker, master certified coach and author of the book Learn to Power Think.