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Have Your Cake And Eat It: Take Advantage Of Your Networking Opportunities

We’re all guilty of making the same type of mistake – we take something we need to do now and we procrastinate instead. Telling ourselves, “I’ll get around to it some other time” and inevitably, when we finally do, it’s too late. When it comes to networking, this is an especially costly mistake.

Do Not Let Opportunities Falter

In all aspects of networking it’s imperative you act promptly, whether it’s following up a lead, arranging a meeting, or simply booking your attendance at an event. Without decisive action, opportunities will be missed, relationships will fizzle out, and you won’t be able to make the most of your networking opportunities. 

Even so, no matter how promptly you act, you still need to be aware of what goes into being successful when it comes to networking. Often people will take networking for granted, and presume things will just fall into place. Successful networking is not simply a matter of attending events and giving out your information, then expecting to get results. These relationships need to be built and developed whilst establishing trust and camaraderie, as well as making sure you’re working collaboratively.

Find Common Interests

One of the best ways to start that process of building trust and rapport is by finding some common ground between you, and it doesn’t even have to be business related. Whether it’s a shared passion for all things archaeological, a love of the same tv show, or even a fondness for fruitcake! What matters is establishing a personal connection first, helping to build a successful relationship and establish a genuine connection. 

Networking isn’t just about going to as many events and meeting as many new people as possible. If you put too much time, money, and effort into that aspect you can find yourself neglecting your existing network. The existing networking relationships you have will always have the potential to develop new opportunities, as it’s easier to call upon those you know, than new aquantiances. 

Develop a Strategy

You need to have a plan for your networking, just like any other aspect of busines – yet most people take an ad hoc approach to their networking. Are you looking for new clients – and is it the people in the room, or the people who the people in the room know? Are you at a networking event just because you work from home and need some human contact? Are you trying to advertise a specific time-sensitive event you’re hosting?

Make sure you know what you want from your networking, who you want to connect with, and when you need to do it.

You never know who you are going to meet.

Find the Right One

Networking events are not created equal; some of more structured and place emphasis on referrals, others are more relaxed and focus on the coffee. No matter the environment, important connections can be made, it just depends on how you approach it.

There are networking events that are part of international organisations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, or BNI, or there are small gatherings that are started by single operator business owners as a way to grow the local business network. Regardless, there are different strategies that can be applied to each type, and you need to find which feels more comfortable to you.

Think of networking like you would baking a cake: firstly, you need have a recipe to follow, then you need to go and get all the right ingredients, but you also need to have the resolve to get into the kitchen and get started.

With the right plan, the right ingredients, and the right work ethic you’ll have a tasty cake by the end. Likewise, with networking, if you do it right, you’ll be generating tremendous new leads and contacts for your business.