It’s networking, or, to quote the old adage: ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’
It’s true that in business, personal relationships usually count for more than specialist knowledge. But I think there’s more to it than just knowing the ‘right people’. After all, the high fliers who’ve crashed to earth in the last few years had the right connections. (Or thought they had.) The problem was, they’d become cut off from much of their network. And when that happens to people, they stop listening.
Real networking isn’t just about making connections. It’s about maintaining those connections so you’re constantly testing your ideas on other people. It’s the best reality check there is. And here’s what I think are the secrets of doing it well.
1. Build as large a network as you can
Sign up with every kind of social media, explore new markets and meet potential new customers. Pick the brains of local experts, people you meet at conferences, your staff, friends and family.
2. Tend to your relationships
Successful networkers put others at ease. Respect people, listen and you’ll ultimately gain their trust.
3. Follow through
If you’ve identified a business opportunity, take the initiative. Remember what they were interested in, and send them an email. Don’t let the opportunity slip through your fingers.
What’s worked for you?