Building and Sustaining Relationships through Networking…

Networking is building and sustaining relationships with people. Often, professionals think of networking as quickly moving around a room, insincerely glad-handing, continuously elevator pitching, and exchanging business cards. This isn”t it at all.

Effective networking is about creating authentic and honest relationships. By focusing on how we can help others succeed, we contribute to their success as well as our own. Networking happens as explicitly stated networking events, but also anywhere: conferences, charity and association meetings, sports events, worship centers, and in being active on social media sites. Networking is a great way to begin, develop, and nurture strong relationships.

Networking is typically good for:

  • Making initial connections
  • Generating referrals
  • Building relationships
  • Maintaining and nurturing relationships over the long-term

Ideas to consider:

  • Networking is about creating relationships, not gathering business cards.
  • If you get involved in a trade organization, become a leader.
  • People like people who are good conversationalists. Don’t be self-absorbed. Learn to connect with people in conversation.
  • Focus on important people who are interesting to you and those whom you have something to offer.
  • Learn to use social media to expand your networking opportunities.
  • Don’t have a heavy selling agenda. You will turn people off.
  • Nurture your relationships – send relevant news that pertain to their issues – not simply items that are interesting to you.
  • Be a giver and become a great resource.
  • Work at networking events, don’t simply attend. Go with the goal to meet several new and interesting people and catch up with folks you already know. Don’t just hang out with your colleagues and people who you already know. Push yourself to meet new people.
  • Build relationships before you need them.
  • Don’t network with people you don’t like or whose values don’t match your own.
  • Don’t confuse your network with your holiday card list – networks are relationships built over time. Having a network is not the same as having a list of people you send holiday cards to once a year.
  • Constantly add to your network while continuing to provide value to those who are already in it.
Written with inspiration from author Mike Schultz