Build Supportive Business Networks

Business networking is more than going through the motions and showing up. I will assume you’ve heard the quote encouraging us that we could achieve 90% success rate just by doing that one thing. Could you imagine a room full of people who expect success for the mere reason of attending? Seems fairly mediocre to me. Should we assume that success will show up when we do?

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“99% of people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre. The competition is thus fiercest for realistic goals.” – Tim Ferris

I’ll share with you 5 things to help you achieve business networking success so you can reach beyond the mediocre goal of simply showing up. Take responsibility for your goals and take action.

1.) Be at the right place at the right time.

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Accelerate your goals by planning ahead. Take time weeks before the meeting, lunch, conference or event and get clear. Why are you attending? What do you want to achieve? Whom do you want to meet? The more clearly you can articulate what you want and need the more likely you will take action towards those goals.

You need to be tough on yourself. Know exactly why you want to attend an event. No more just showing up. This helps you save time by avoiding events that aren’t suited to you.

Here is a little rule tool you can use. Fill in the blanks.

I am going to this event to_______________so that__________________.

2.) Meet the right people

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Now it’s up to you to step in and learn as much about the people you wish to have in your network. This is research that will support your goals. You can jump on Google and Social Media to do some digging. Research the person you want in your circle. Who are they connected to that you already know. Could you ask for an introduction? Do you have common threads (a business connection, a friend, or a philanthropic cause)? Common threads can be personal, maybe you found out you both love fishing, dogs or mountain climbing. Look for common ground that could be a great icebreaker and pave way for the introduction. Discover how you can support your desired contact. All great relationships stem from the heart.

3.) Hold yourself accountable.

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Keep tabs on your own activity. Know when you are moving forward. You have already outlined your goals, and articulated what you want and need. This is not about going in hungry and hunting. This is about softly checking in with yourself to see what you need to adjust over the next hour so you can make progress. Remember, the best networking happens before and after the event. You are simply making an introduction, connecting and extending a request to be in touch following the event (that is the permission you are looking for). Then let them be on their way so they can connect with their targets. Don’t hold your new connection up.

4.) Following up is not rocket science.

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However, it is the most forgotten, and procrastinated task. Often not regarded as a priority. Timing is everything. When should you be following up? Immediately. Do not delay your follow up! Remember if you connect with your target, strike up that conversation, get the business card and permission to follow up, they are expecting to hear from you. Don’t neglect that obligation. Do what you said you were going to do.

5.) Stay in your zone of authenticity.

Truly showing up means being present. Feel the environments, the energy the people bring, and pay attention to others body language as well as your own. Begin to see just how real everyone is. You won’t see the sparkle in someone’s eyes if you’re not looking.

Above all remember that whatever level of entrepreneur you are, you are valuable. It’s all in how you show up. Regardless of title, prestige, or level of success, everyone is human. This is how level playing fields are created at business networking events. Don’t go in hungry thinking “What can I get”, go in with the research to back your business networking activities, and more importantly with a mission of helping to support the people you aim to meet.

Enjoy the confidence planning ahead of time gives you, and the understanding that we can find common ground with just about everyone we meet.

I help entrepreneurs and individuals showcase and communicate brands. For me building supportive business networks is the key to success. This blog was originally posted at the HuffPost Blog.

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