While everyone speaks about the importance of networking to push forward your personal and professional career, most of us wonder: What’s the secret recipe behind successful networking? It’s sustaining strong relationships and careful, but determined execution!
There are by far hundreds of ‘networking events’ happening each week in the metropolitan area of London. The question is to identify key events to attend that will really help with regards to networking opportunities, because time is very valuable and you want to spend it the right way.
Here are 5 ways to build strong professional relationships:
1. Pick Useful Networking Events
It sounds intuitive, but in order to spend your time wisely (getting results) choose the most relevant networking events for you and your business to go to. Sometimes, events sound hyper fancy or a bit odd, but can attract the right people for you to speak to. Therefore, before deciding to go to an event, check out the event and ask yourself questions such as:
- Who are the speakers? Are the topics relevant to my business or my career?
- Who are the other attendees? Which people are interesting to connect with, or I need an introduction to?
- Who are the event organisers and sponsors? Are the attending brands providing opportunities or is it more like a sales event?
While networking is often the easy part, the relationship really just starts here. If you had a great chat with your conversation partner, ask nicely if you can stay in touch via email, phone or social media channels such as LinkedIn. It is highly important to follow up immediately from the first introduction, either that same evening or the morning after whilst the memory is still fresh. The best follow-up strategies include a reference to the discussion you had, a topic that your new contact might be interested in, or potential opportunities to stay in touch in the future.
3. Keep a Record
In most cases, starting a company is less about innovative ideas than about relationships. This means leveraging existing relationships and people in your networks. This also means continuous relationship-building with customers, influencers, mentors, investors and wider stakeholders. A tool that can help leverage relationships, is keeping a proper record of people who you met throughout your professional life. It might sound boring, But you will be surprised. Reaching out to a person three years after you first met and knowing about when and how you met, can really impress the other person. Therefore, it makes sense to keep information about each introduction such as their role, company, contact details, birthday and details of meetings.
4. Stay in Touch
Likewise, staying in touch with people in your network sounds very intuitive. The question about how you can keep up with all people you met naturally comes up. Let’s call it ‘network-housekeeping’. Depending on your relationship to each other, you can congratulate people on their birthdays, anniversaries or personal/ professional achievements. Check in from time to time, asking what’s been happening, or provide an update about yourself, for instance, when you changed jobs or were promoted.
5. Help your Contacts
Fostering relationships is a balance of giving and taking. Be helpful and call your contact’s attention to topics or events that might be interesting to them, or facilitate an introduction that they might benefit from. You’ll be surprised that people are more likely to help you – even after years of no contact – if you’ve helped them out in the past.
Join one of Mentoring Britain’s networking events and workshops offered for startups, scale-ups and the wider SME community. Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0203 865 0317.