You have hundreds of Facebook friends, Twitter followers and LinkedIn connections. How many of these contacts can you call on the phone, have a productive conversation with for relevant information and assistance? In contrast, do they initiate communication with you for advice or projects of mutual interest? If your answer is no, then perhaps you should examine how and why you acquire relations for growth. Many may consider connectivity through social media or membership groups to be successful networking. The reality is that a great majority of these connections lack mutual support.
Simply collecting business cards, adding friend requests online and attending industry events may expand your number of contacts, but does not increase the quality of your network or the possibility that those contacts will benefit you in the future. The value of your network is based on acquiring authentic relationships with others who genuinely share your interests, goals and opinions while offering reciprocal support. Ponder these three conditions prior to adding your next contact:
Relationships before opportunities
Personality and reputation go a long way in the networking game. Establishing true compatibility with a potential contact is easy –be yourself. Honestly, no matter what advantage you may obtain from a contact, if your character is not in sync with theirs, then don’t force the connection. Create links with people you can relate to outside of an event or beyond online chats and acknowledge a shared effort to support each other.
Like minded, like value contacts
Recognize what you and your potential contacts may offer for mutual gain. Perhaps you want to pass on your resume to an executive at his/her company. You could offer some volunteer time or free service to show off your true worth. Be practical in your offering and do not promise something that cannot be delivered.
Following-up, maintain the connection
Effective communication requires maintenance. The importance of long-term credibility is crucial when you’re not just interested in making the initial sale or gateway to your objective. If you promise to follow-up, then do so by sending an email, interesting article that you may have discussed or some relevant resource to your contact.
Networking well can ensure a bright future for a promising flow of realistic and reliable connections. A quality network is powered by people you know, like and trust.