When I began my real estate career late in the 70’s, there was no internet or way of mass communication outside of newspaper, radio and television, both of which were expensive to use. Instead, we had to find other ways of reaching out to people and “networking” was a viable tool. Often it was at the Better Business Bureau or the Chamber of Commerce. Of course, the “tried and true” method was to walk your geographic farm.
Today, the word “networking” has become laden with negative associations. If you spend just a few minutes reading some of the most widely shared networking articles, you’ll notice the same time-worn, clicked tips for networking that we’ve all been taught for year- and they’re all flawed. It’s no wonder networking gets such a bad reputation, when we blindly follow advice that at best wastes time, and at worse, can be downright obnoxious.
There are viable ways of approaching networking in the internet age, but we jut need to redefine how we approach it.
For example, if you attend a networking event it is best done solo. That’s correct, by yourself. This will have the effect of you pushing yourself forward to listen to others and join into a group conversation.
Of course, if you’re naturally inclined to shy away from meeting new people, then going by yourself is not going to magically transform you into an extrovert. In that case, bring along a friend or client who may have an interest in the event or speaker .
That way, you introduce someone to new ideas so they may benefit. In other words, think of who else you know that could benefit from attending and invite them to come along. Inviting them will deepen your relationship and they will likely help open doors to new acquaintances for you.
Back in the day, I would always ask for business cards and in return, hand mine out. Then back at the office, I would hand write a note of acknowledgement and appreciation, thus setting an “open door” policy for future interaction and engagement. This oftentimes elicited a phone call from my new business contact. However, today this strategy has some flaws. There are much better ways to spend your time, than by writing notes to someone you’ve just met. From a purely tactical standpoint, it’s not ideal.
Instead, sending an email is both modern and efficient. Make sure in the Subject line to include your Last Name in CAPS followed by a brief item you gleaned from your initial meeting. Example would be – ALPERT: Your thoughts on cufflinks. They will receive your message immediately and it may encourage a response for opening a conversation.
Consider hosting your own networking event with the people in your LinkedIn, CRM or Social Media groups. This could be online using tools like Zoom or Jive, inside a social media host like Facebook or LinkedIn, or simply at your office. You will save lots of valuable time and be more focused and productive than researching a list of attendees at some Chamber event.
The new connections made and their lasting impact will prove to be incredibly valuable for all of your guests—all thanks to you.
Proper networking is about building new relationships and deepening your existing ones. You don’t have to follow traditional advice, or even go to events, to successfully build and maintain a valuable network. If this is a priority for you, these are the strategies I use that get much better results with much less frustration.
Coach and Business Consultant