Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The "Goody Two Shoes" Approach to Networking

Many people mistakenly look at networking as collecting as many business cards as possible, or having a lot of contacts on LinkedIn. While it's great to have all those contacts, what happens when you call them? Hard to believe they're going to remember and want to help a person they barely talked to at a conference.

Networking and motivation expert Josh Hinds has seen this situation many times, and offers advice to help you build a network built on value and trust.

"One of the hardest things for people who are beginning to embrace professional networking to grasp is that it's not simply about sharing their product or service, but rather about first building some basic rapport with the person they've just met," says Hinds. "It's about creating value for others first."

"This 'goody two shoes' approach to networking ensures that you will not only be thought of in a favorable light - you will remain there for as long as you're willing to commit to keeping that connection going. The more value you create for the people you connect with - the greater the likelihood that they will not only end up a customer of yours, they'll even seek you out as a trusted advisor when they have a need that they feel you might be able to help them with."

Here are some of Hinds' tips for building value with those you meet:
  • Upon the initial meeting, take a sincere interest in the other person first. Then let them know that you're always meeting new people and would be willing to keep an eye out for potential sources of business for them - you can even ask what their ideal prospect would look like. Be careful - you can't just give this idea lip service - you have to be sure to actually send referrals their way as you run across them.
  • Be on the lookout for things of interest to the folks in your network - and pass them along to them. It's a terrific way to stay in touch, while being valuable to others.
  • Every so often drop a quick e-mail, greeting card, or note to someone you may not have touched base with in a while. Something as simple as 'It's been a while so I just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you' can do wonders to position yourself in a favorable light.
  • Be on the lookout for opportunities that will be of benefit to those in your network. Doing so is as easy as keeping your eyes open for news you might read, or listening to what others have to say.
Josh Hinds is a speaker, trainer, and author on topics such as networking and personal branding. Check out his popular newsletter at www.GetMotivation.com.
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