Guest article by JoAnne Funch
Networking is one of those strategies we traditionally have done in person until social media began to dominate the scene. We now can connect with people quickly and certainly easier than the effort you need to get out and meet people in person.
As a marketing consultant and strategist what I find most fascinating when I work with people and meet them in either situation they often share the same challenges. Here are some tips that can help you meet and build meaningful connections in-person or online.
Challenge #1 – You don’t have a plan or intention for who and why you are networking
TIP: Align your networking with your business objectives. That means you know your target client, vendor, referral partner, or influencer. You know where they network and you therefore know who you want to meet.
Challenge #2 – You don’t know what to say
Know what questions you want to ask ahead of time. If this doesn’t come easy than write down some good conversation starting questions and build off those. Don’t be a wall-flower in-person or a lurker online, this simply won’t serve you in the long run, learn to extend yourself, here are a few suggestions.
In person suggestions:
- Have you heard this speaker before tonight/today?
- What did you think of the presentation? Is it of value to your work?
- I’m looking to expand my network of HR professionals, is there anyone here you could introduce me to?
- Always acknowledge people with a comment. Clicking the LIKE button is just a cop out or because you don’t know what to say.
- Be authentic when inviting people to your networks and build relationships with intention.
- Don’t be afraid to ask people for what you need with a relationship building style. Example: I see you are connected to John Doe and I have wanted to meet him, would you mind making an introduction?
- @Tag people you want to be top of mind with and mention them in your social posts. Example: Good LinkedIn tips about endorsements from @joannefunch link to article
Challenge #3 – No follow-up
Tip: Building relationships is all about follow-up and staying connected. If you network in person don’t simply collect business cards without intention of following up. Online networking is somewhat different in that we can be faced with hundreds of people who follow, Like, circle and invite us to connect. Often having a larger online network can simply expand your reach so by all means connect with lots of interesting people.
Example: When inviting someone you met in person to join your LinkedIn network, be sure you continue to engage and get to know them.
Online networking can lead to offline meetings depending on your business objectives and your physical location and in person networking leads us to follow those connections online and join their conversations. Getting connected and staying connected does take consistent effort and planning but the rewards can keep a steady stream of leads, referral partners and opportunities coming your way.
JoAnne has been a small business owner in marketing and sales since 1993. She helps growth oriented businesses gain more exposure making a bigger impact in their market!
As a marketing consultant, JoAnne loves to teach, share, motivate and empower small business owners to build a business and a brand they love. She is also a passionate social media trainer specializing in LinkedIn For Business, as well as an author, speaker and avid blogger. Learn more about JoAnne on her websites: