The most important part of successful networking

The most important part of successful networking

I’m not sure what the trend is, but I’ve been asked many times over the past few weeks on “what is the most important par of successful networking”.  Some people suggest its having the “elevator pitch” perfected, or knowing your brand.  Others think it’s the ability to make small talk.  Others still believe its persistence.  And while all good answers, my view is that the most important part of successful networking is: to develop relationships.

Some people mis-understand that a relationship means that you have to be best friends, or even friends with those in your network, which is not the case.  But it does mean that you need to have an authentic connection with that person (unauthentic connections get passed by quite quickly).  Networks are much better when they are “hot” and engaged, verus cold and unattended.  Many people assume that networks are for future favours and ideally that is not the case, where the relationship is built from authentic curiosity and interest, versus thinking that person will be able to do something that will benefit you in the future.

The good thing is that networks don’t have to be that hard to maintain.  A few ways to build relationships are:

  • Think about them:
    • May seem a bit odd, but sometimes something as simple as sending a note/text, or given a quick call that says “hey, I was in a home improvement store and thought of you and the big reno you were doing.  How’s that going?  Things with me are great, and I hope all is well”
  • Stay in touch:
    • thinking about those in your network may not come naturally so reminding yourself to stay in touch is important.  Put a recurring calendar invite to contact folks in your network 2-4 times per year (you can use the obligatory “holiday hello” if you can’t think of a good reason to reach out)
  • Give:
    • related to the “think about them” tip which might be sending an interesting new article (not spam) that is related to a topic you were discussing when you last met; or a restaurant recommendation; or something that would be of value to them
  • Don’t discriminate
    • having CEOs and senior executives in your network shouldn’t be your only goal.  Many people on the “working level” folks are the ones  that the execs will listen to as well.

There are many variations of successfully building relationships to keep your network healthy.


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