“Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, marketing your uniqueness, marketing what you stand for…”
People are reluctant to consider networking as one of the main marketing practices purely because you’ll not walk away from that meeting with more money in your pocket. But you’re not perusing a sale here, or anything related to money (in the short term, of course). You’re perusing a relationship. That’s the fundamental of networking, and it’s so important to remember this. It’s what the relationship may develop into that’s most important. It may develop into a sale or a new job, or a joint venture project or a referral, or even give you the inspiration or the information you needed at that point to progress. It doesn’t really matter which. An unorthodox marketer knows this.
Throughout history people have had to network to achieve virtually anything and everything. How else were things going to happen without the technology we boast today? Civilizations, breakthrough products, marriages, you name it, all have been built through some form of networking. It’s been essential to our survival for so long, and yet at the critical moment we’re forgetting to do something we as a species did so well in the past. It seems strange to report on it like this, though this is what has become of our social and business behaviours. And it needs to change.
We now need to claw back, and re-develop those essential business (and life) skills that have been the life-blood of all economic activity over the centuries. The time to make
networking an everyday part of life is now, because the internet is taking away the ‘need’ to have to meet in person. Even the art of physically talking to one another is affected by Social Media, Instant Messaging, Email and the likes. That said of course, never ignore these digital channels as they are your means to keep in touch after the initial face-to-face meet. Though nowadays, I have personally experienced that from time to time people love to speak to you in person, and engage.
So, what needs to be done? Well, you have to work yourself up to be the ‘familiar face’, because that’s the person who gets the most opportunities. Whether it’s more customers, leads, clients, partners, mentors or friends it doesn’t matter. With more contacts, in your time of need, you’ll find yourself with more options to turn to as people always gravitate towards the people they already know and trust. That’s you!
The amazing thing about networking is not that you’ll build up a much better and more responsive list of stakeholders, but you’ll actually become much more knowledgeable
because of it. You’ll have many more interesting stories to tell, and not only will you be able to inspire people with these stories, but you’ll be able to position yourself as the
go-to-guy that has all the contacts in the industry. This is your social proof, and this association and community membership can always be leveraged.
Stepping out of your comfort zone cannot be any easier when it comes to networking. It’s a natural human trait to want to socialise, to exchange stories and to share company
(just that it’s a little more strategic when it comes to business). Think of it as trying to find a partner through dating; be brave, show your commitment to the cause and be a
little patient, but never forget to leave the meeting without getting closer to your goal. That’s asking what you wanted to ask or requesting what you wanted to request. Remember, you’re doing this for a reason. This reason is to surround yourself with the right people who want you to succeed, but more than anything, would be happy to help you succeed when the time comes. And I can assure you that that time will come…
Get out there amongst the opportunities. It’s always ‘who you know’ in business. That’s the same in every business, in every industry. So, go out and grab a coffee, dinner or a
casual Skype call with at least one person from your industry every week – and never forget to follow up. If you’re already doing this, then seek to meet up with even more people per week. It will bring you more customers in the long run.