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Networking of course, even if you hate it

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By Maria Thimothy, Sr. consultant at OneIMS that helps businesses grow by creating and capturing demand and managing and nurturing relationships.

Networking is often hailed as a panacea for helping businesses expand their reach and turn a profit. In fact, networking is a term used and misunderstood as often as marketing, with people thinking that success in these areas means reaching as many people as possible indiscriminately. As a result, people find networking overwhelming and don’t know how to really make it work for them. The secret of good networking, like good marketing, is finding the right audience. Rather than throwing out a wide network and hoping to find the right connections, organic and targeted learning networking can be much less work and much more beneficial to your business. When it comes to networking, less is really more.

Be open to involvement.

No matter how corporate the concept of networking is, in the end networking is about connecting with people. As in our personal lives, you are unlikely to find meaningful and mutually beneficial connections if you are not open to meeting new people and interested in them as individuals. Think of networking as a two-way street where you can offer and receive benefits through the connections you promote. Be open to the idea that your next connection could come from any source, even if they don’t look like potential networking opportunities at first.

For example, you have a large client with whom you have a good relationship, but you never thought of asking them for new business leads or referrals. Or it could be that a small startup business starts following you on social media and as you interact with them you realize that there are great opportunities for collaboration. Be open to reformulating your interactions with people as opportunities for building a reciprocal business relationship, and you’ll find that networking opportunities are virtually everywhere.

Find like-minded people.

If you’re open to a wide variety of potential networking opportunities, you’re more likely to find the right people to connect with. However, what you want to avoid is spreading yourself too thin and wasting your time getting in touch with everyone when not everyone is suited for collaboration. You want to focus on finding like-minded individuals and organizations who share similar values ​​and business goals so that your relationship has a better chance of being mutually beneficial in the long run.

To help you focus, take a look at your short- and long-term business goals and your plan to achieve them. Then look for companies that do something similar, whether in the same company or in a crossover industry. They could be a more mature company with decades of experience or even a new startup with huge potential. Either way, by focusing your networking efforts on those who share the same core values ​​and approach to business as you do, you can increase your chances of finding people to work with who are passionate about the same things as you.

Determine what you have to offer.

We often think of networking from our own point of view. In other words, we look for the benefits we seek and forget to think about what we can offer the other party. For networking to work, both parties need to see an advantage. That’s why it’s important to identify not only what you want to achieve with networking, but also what you may have to offer others as a partner or collaborator.

By sitting down and determining your strengths and weaknesses, you may be better able to identify the types of businesses or individuals looking for what you offer. Not only can this help you further refine the types of individuals and companies you should associate with and build relationships with, but it can also exclude the individuals you know will not be fruitful relationships to pursue. . Knowing what you have to offer others can help you develop a more focused approach to networking and focus on finding the best match for network partners.

Act normal.

Networking should not be an overwhelming exercise to reach as many people as possible. Instead, it should be a very natural part of your regular business activities, with the individuals and companies you interact with regularly being all potential networking opportunities. Chances are, if your current business connections are functional and mutually beneficial, it’s a good indicator that you’re like-minded and share the same values. This means that your current connections are much better channels for finding other networking opportunities than cold-approaching people.

By being aware of what you have to offer other companies as partners, you can really determine who exactly is worth reaching out to and which network relationships are most mutually beneficial. Networking is a powerful tool and doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. Rather, it is best to do it daily, looking for all the opportunities that are naturally already available to you.

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