12 Most Effective Networking Tactics

12 Most Effective Networking Tactics

Networking can be a dirty word.

There’s NETWORKING – use a hand flourish to really get your point across here – where the bossy, egotistical guy or gal shoves their business card into your hand whilst explaining their expertise in expertise experience!

Then there’s networking – where the mousy, insecure person mumbles into a cocktail napkin and asks you if you know anyone who is hiring for someone with no skills or much personality.

And there’s online networking – where complete strangers from across town or across the globe ask to link with you on LinkedIn so they can stalk your associates and ruin your relationships.

I’ve been a big believer in old fashioned networking – which is really just meeting people (in real life and online) and staying in touch and being a decent human being. We all WANT to be decent, but sometimes work and deadlines help us forget how to be decent, even when we don’t want anything.

Here are my 12 Most Effective Networking Tactics

1. Meet People

Well, duh, right? However if you’re a busy corporate-type or work from home entrepreneur with nothing but a laptop to keep you company, it’s pretty easy to NOT meet people in real life. Make it a point to do something every once in a while.

2. Participate Online

Don’t be the guy who join Facebook, never uploads a picture, never comments or participates, then acts like it doesn’t work. You need to join in, be proactive, and let others know you’re paying attention.

3. Support Others Before They Ask You

If you see your friend trying to get blog readers, event goers, product buyers or company promoters, then help them out, even if it’s not totally your thing. I often promote events I can’t attend or click “Like” on a friend’s Facebook page. Do unto others has a whole new meaning in social media.

4. Be Nice

If you are snarky, critical and just plain mean all the time, people won’t like you. It’s that simple. I’m all for fun and wit, but if snarky comments are all you offer, prepare to be shunned at the networking lunch table. Do us all a favor and just be nice.

5. Compliment Someone Else’s Work

Nothing makes someone’s day like hearing an unexpected compliment. Go out of your way to approach the speaker you just heard to say “Thanks. That was great!” (Just be sure you really mean it.) Make it a point to compliment someone randomly one time a day. I have fun sending the occasional LinkedIn recommendation when someone isn’t expecting it. Don’t check the box asking for one in return – just do it to make THEIR day.

6. Collaborate!

If you have a big project approaching or want to expand on an idea, reach out to your network. Ask someone for their expertise. It’s flattering for them and helps you both understand how to work together, refer each other and look out for clients or opportunities.

7. Ask Tons of Questions

What Do You Do? It’s a great place to start. But get creative and help others talk about themselves and their passions. They will feel great and you will be remembered.

8 Crowdsource

Another prime use of social media – reach out to your community and ask for help or opinions. They will appreciate being included and you’ll get great input. Just be sure to say thank you!

9. Say Thank You OFTEN

I once referred a job posting to a friend looking for work and she bit my head off in an email because it wasn’t exactly in line with what she was looking for. Do you think I EVER sent her another job lead? If she had said, “Thanks for thinking of me!” and then explained my mistake, I would’ve been on the lookout for as long as she needed.

10. Say No Sometimes

In the last few years, it’s hard to know so many people looking for work and want to help. Sometimes, people overreach. Say no when it becomes a burden on your time. Otherwise, the relationship will suffer and you will resent them. Do what you can to refer them to places that CAN help, but sometimes a graceful exit is really best for everyone.

11. Follow Up Pronto

When I meet someone at an event, I make it a point to connect on LinkedIn within a day or so. Otherwise, memories fade quickly. Leverage your in-person meetings by creating a long-term connection online.

12. Don’t Just Network When You Need Something

Probably my biggest pet peeve is hearing from someone ONLY when they are in need. It’s worse when those same people don’t respond/participate/interact with others when they are in need. Nobody likes this. Reach out often and support your connections so they will be there for you when you do need something.

What about you? What ways do you stay connected to your connections? What are your suggestions for how to or how not to network?

Featured image courtesy of jcoterhals licensed via creative commons.

Jeannie Walters

http://www.360connext.com

Jeannie Walters is the founder of 360Connext, a Chicago-based consulting firm specializing in the cornerstones of customer experience: customer engagement, employee engagement and connections like social media. She is a board member of the Chicago chapter of the Social Media Club and a member of Faith Popcorn’s Talent Bank, a group of experts tapped for trend-setting information.

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12 comments
wadvisor
wadvisor

#3 and #5 are no brainers Jeannie. They should be happening all the time not just because we had a recession. I see a lot of people doing it because they lost a job or some other reason.

Which leads to your #12. So those are all great ones.

Slight variation for #11 that has worked very well for us 100% of the time. I try not to connect with everyone I meet straight away unless there is a big synergy. Of course there are many people in the other camp so people have to do what works for them. I see people with 120,000 connections. So I ask them who do you have as a specialized art restoration person or an attorney who specializes in divorce for executive women, he or she can not remember any of the 120,000 people which leads to your great point on #7. Asking a lot of good questions helps understand what they do, how they can be of help and more importantly how you can be a strategic resource. From time to time I remove connections if they no longer are of help to me.

Great post and thanks for putting this great list together. Everyone should be following this list.

tienwong
tienwong

Awesome summary, Jeannie! Agree with danielnewmanUV about #3. "Give to Get!" The best advice I think. @tienwong

danielnewmanUV
danielnewmanUV

Many great points! i love #3 - I think it is all about paying it forward. I walk into most networking conversations thinking what can I do for them, not what can they do for me.

If we all worked that way, we would all end up with more of what we need.

As always! great post.

errolmc
errolmc

Hi Jeannie,

Seems so simple once someone writes them down, but I for one often forget a number of the reminders you've listed here. Many thanks.

@errolmc

DigiArts_CA
DigiArts_CA

Hi Jeannie,

Great article, thanks for sharing! I shared a link to this article on Twitter (@DigiArts_CA) and on Facebook. My favourite tip is #12. It's easy to tell when someone is networking all of a sudden because they need something - what a great tip to include!

I'll be looking forward to more of your posts on this blog.

^MaryBeth, Centre for Arts & Technology

jeanniecw
jeanniecw

@tienwong Thank you, Tien! I believe in the pay it forward idea, for sure. Appreciate you stopping by and sharing your ideas with us.

jeanniecw
jeanniecw

@danielnewmanUV Awww...thank you! And you're so right - what a world that would be, huh? I guess until that day we have to keep some defenses up. Thank you for commenting!

jeanniecw
jeanniecw

@errolmc @errolmc Errol, thank you. Isn't that the truth? I know I for one get busy and focused and realize I haven't lifted my head up long enough to foster relationships sometimes. That's when I go into networking drive and really make sure I take care of the relationships that matter most. It's challenging in a 24/7 world, but I certainly believe it's worth it. Thank you so much for your comment. I appreciate it!

jeanniecw
jeanniecw

@DigiArts_CA Thank you, Mary Beth! I love that you spell favourite with a U. ;-) Appreciate you taking the time to comment and share. "See you" around here again, I hope!

danielnewmanUV
danielnewmanUV

@jeanniecw no problem Jeannie - this is one of the best posts I have read that hasn't reached 50 comments - let's keep it alive and get it there. After all, isn't networking really the entire reason we are here? @jeanniecw

DigiArts_CA
DigiArts_CA

@jeanniecw @DigiArts_CA The "favourite" with a U is the Canadian way of spelling it! And I will see you around here again for sure - great website!

jeanniecw
jeanniecw

@DigiArts_CA :) I knew that, I was just having a little fun with you. I adore Canadians!

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