The hardest part about networking is understanding the difference between it and socializing. While some socializing is networking, networking isn’t always socializing. According to “Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days (affiliate link)”, networking is making contacts to establish relationships that lead to business, often through referrals. Networking isn’t about doing business, unless you happen to run into someone who fits your target market exactly. Instead, it’s about forming relationships that will lead to a referral for your business.
“People buy from those they like, know, and trust.” With networking, you want to become someone your business contacts like, know, and trust, so they will refer others to buy from you.
Networking is about giving more than you receive, listening to other people and their needs, and figuring out how your company can fill those needs. It’s a long process and doesn’t happen with just one meeting, and it should be a part of your marketing strategy.
Do not confuse handing out business cards with networking. You want to focus on getting business cards, so you can follow up with people. Otherwise, you’re going to be reliant on them to call you; that’s reactive. You want to be proactive. Once you have a business card, you need to find a reason to follow up with the person.
Networking isn’t something that most people do naturally. It’s a learned skill. Leave your sales pitch at home when you head out to a networking event and fire up your relationship-building and listening skills.
Adapted from “Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days (affiliate link).”