In an effort to make myself seem more technological I’ve come up with the term “3-D Networking.” What in the heck is 3-D networking? Well, it’s good, old-fashioned, face-to-face networking, and since it’s live it qualifies as 3-D.
When you compare 3-D networking to social networking the similarities are more pronounced than you might think. As a matter of fact, when you look at the list of steps to success in one of these forms of networking… it’s nearly identical to the other.
Why is it important to pay attention to this list? Because people like to do business with people they know, like, and trust, and this list is a blueprint to create these types of relationships.
When it comes to networking, both on and offline, your goal is to create an environment that incubates a “know you, like you, trust you” business relationship.
Follow these five steps and you’ll most likely reach that goal as you shape authentic and profitable associations with your fellow networkers.
1. Establish and clarify your networking strategy.
First, let’s examine what your strategy shouldn’t be.
-Getting known as the company that tries to make sales while networking.-
Remember this: Nobody likes to be sold to.
Making sales is not a networking strategy. This is the hardest concept for most networkers to grasp. However, if you practice the five steps on this list… sales will result.
What’s your networking strategy?
We are talking about networking as a business activity that leads to referrals. What networking plan that leads to these referrals do you have in place?
Nearly every successful business activity is based on a plan. Nearly all successful plans are based on a strategy. What is your networking Strategy?
2. Establish your presence, communicate your strategy, and be consistent.
An effective networking strategy lasts more than one meeting or social media post. If you’re starting a 3-D, or a Social Media marketing campaign with an expectation for immediate success, prepare for disappointment.
You must be consistent and you must show show-up.
Comedian and writer, Woody Allen made this observation, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”
Networking is a communications exercise in which to be effective… you must communicate. Remember that effective listening is also a part of communication.
Here’s a tip to make consistency easier. “Be interested rather than interesting.” Ask questions and listen
3. Connect your connections
In networking, one of the greatest gifts you can give is access to your market.
Connect problem solvers with solution seekers. Identify and connect with centers of influence and then connect your connections. Think of yourself a resource broker. Be generous and be selective.
You can’t cause business, but you can be the cause of business.
4. Nurture relationships
This calls for you to learn about others and be willing to refer. When your business networking isn’t working as expected it’s probably because you didn’t focus on this step. You didn’t nurture the relationships.
I’m not suggesting you make everyone your best friend; in networking, however, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. An occasional phone call, e-mail, or a birthday greeting is a part of nearly all authentic relationships.
Business networking as a profitable marketing activity relies on your willingness to create authentic relationships. If you’re reluctant to create authentic relationships with a predetermined number of circles of influence, or other resources as a part of your plan, you may want to consider marketing opportunities other than networking, 3-D. or otherwise.
5. Maintain communication with your network.
You’ve earned the trust of your fellow networkers. You contribute to them. They contribute to you. They listen to you. They are open to your ideas. You have an effective differentiation strategy in place. Your message is clear to your market.
Your job is to communicate that message and continue to contribute so you are perceived as a thought leader and a problem solver in your field. Keep in mind that others will come along that want to hold that 3-D, or social media perception as much or more than you do. The need for consistency is greater in social media where the competitive marketplace is larger than ever due to the sheer number of participants and the lack of geographical boundaries.
You’ve probably noticed that each of these five steps is a good idea on its own. But, your success is dependent on using all five steps. Think of the process like a formula that won’t work unless all five ingredients are present.
And, the next time you attend a 3-D networking event, just be grateful you don’t have to wear those special glasses.