Not a people person? Prefer animals to folks? Does the prospect of networking leave you cold? You’re not alone. A study by Harvard academics found that networking made some people feel dirty with an aching desire to brush their teeth! *
Yet, effective networking and harnessing the ‘who you know, not what you know’ philosophy can skyrocket a business. Great, for those who seem in their element working the room, dishing out business cards and bright smiles to everyone they meet. Not you? Not to worry. Here, the marketing experts at PMW advise how to network when you’re just not into people.
- You’re already networked, even if you don’t know it
A network just means a bunch of people you already know — not the ones you haven’t met yet. If you’re starting a business or looking to take it to the next level, make a list of everyone in your existing network, i.e. friends, family, neighbours, existing customers, suppliers, former colleagues — you get the drift, and tell them what you’ve got planned. If they don’t know what you’ve got to offer, how are they going to either use your services or recommend you? You could just send them a simple email, give them a call or meet them for a coffee. It doesn’t matter how you connect, just that you do.
- Embrace the 1 to 1
It’s quite common for networking-dodgers to be the type of people who dislike crowds and prefer smaller groups. Remember that networking doesn’t have to take the form of people in suits balancing a coffee and a plateful of buffet food; it could be just you and another in the corner of a pub, at the golf course, taking a walk in the park, or wherever you choose. Networking effectively just means getting and staying in touch and optimising the connection through helping each other where you can.
- ‘Social’ doesn’t have to mean sociable
You don’t need us to tell you how powerful social media can be when it comes to building business. And the beauty of social media means you don’t have to talk to anyone directly if it’s not your bag. You can still communicate, be helpful, offer advice, portray yourself as the expert, gain an audience and showcase your product or service, all without donning a shiny suit and flashing a single business card. Social media is a great way to network, even if you’re an introvert.
- Give to receive
Remember when you do any sort of networking — whether that’s in person, online, in a group or one to one, that truly effective networking is selfless. People often make the mistake of approaching a networking opportunity with one thing in mind: themselves, and what they can gain. Instead, to become a master networker and to reap the greatest rewards, go in asking yourself: what can you do to help someone else today? Your selflessness will be noticed and reciprocated, trust us on that.
- Don’t network
Okay, so this one’s a bit of a cheat when the article is entitled ‘How to network’ but it’s important, so we’re going to say it anyway: if you absolutely despise the thought of attending any sort of networking event, then steer clear. Forcing yourself to go through with it will only result in you giving off bad vibes, which could be detrimental to your business. Good marketing is all about finding where your strengths lie and building on them. There’s more than one way to build a business than through networking. Consider advertising, public relations, PPC ads, an improved website, exhibiting, hosting an event… the list goes on. Just find what you love and do more of it.