Set your vision
Before you set about networking, you need to know what you want – write down your vision and your set of goals as precisely as possible –
- Reach out to at least 10 CEOs and introduce our business to them
- Reach out to 15 CMOs and get time for a meeting
- Meet five investors and drop a business plan
- Your vision could be just about anything – but has to be extremely precise.
Identify network sources
This is easier than you think. You only need to ask. When you get extremely serious about networking, this process becomes easy. Just give a thought to the concept of six degrees of separation. This is also referred to as the human web. Any person is only six steps away from any other person through a chain of connections (a ‘friend of a friend’, ‘boss’s aunt’s colleague’, ‘dad’s friend’s boss’) and so on. Ask to be connected. Professionals are more than willing to help. Be polite and make your intention clear and follow up.
You never know who might know someone that you also want to get to know. Think about the concept, Six Degrees of Separation (also referred to as the “Human Web”), which purports that everyone is only six steps away from any other person on earth through a chain of “a friend of a friend” connections.
Make the connection
Once you have asked to be connected, or met someone at a networking event, make the first best impression. There is no second chance. Leave a lasting impression. This is again easier than people think it is. If you are not a natural at it, you can practice enough to actually perfect the art. Say your name clearly and repeat your name causally twice or thrice in a conversation. It is important people remember your name. The second time you meet them, they are not as clueless. Ask for a business card. An email follow up after the event helps you score brownie points.
If the connection is absolutely important to you, ask for a one on one meeting. Again follow up is very critical. Send a mail right after the event. Genuinely invest in the relationship; it means that you need to give as much as you can take. Can you help the connection in any way – think, find a common ground and offer help. Seek help when you need. Be polite and precise.
Maintain the relationship
You have met this all important person twice and then don’t let the relationship fade away. Read the above paragraph again. It is important to invest in the relationship for it to truly grow over the years. An SMS when you read about the person somewhere or even sending an invite to the next big conclave that you know. Recommending your connection to another person/forum will leave a feeling of debt and gratitude and this will help you in the long run.
Go out and network!