A few years ago, it was time to trade in my car. It was an emotional time because the old jalopy and I had been together for over twenty years. It was like saying goodbye to a friend. As serendipity would have it, I was playing golf with a mate who introduced me to a friend in our group who owned a car dealership. The introduction helped me navigate through something I knew very little about and secured me a great deal on a new car.
It's not what you know, it’s who you know. Networking is an integral part of life and business.
And building connections with the right people at the right time could be the key to taking your Finance & Mortgage Broking business to the next level.
Networking usually involves meeting new people, who share a profession, industry, or interests and involves exchanging ideas and information with these individuals.
The Importance of Networking
Using your network is one of the best ways to attract clients to your business. The reason networking is so important comes down to one keyword: referrals.
There’s no denying that meeting new people can feel uncomfortable. However, if you can face your fears, you’ll be amazed by the connections you can make with co-workers, old friends, and yes, even strangers.
leads to the exchange of ideas
helps you meet people at all professional levels, including industry leaders
boosts your professional confidence
builds your reputation
makes you noticeable
strengthens your support groups
promotes business growth
Once you start, you’ll quickly see why networking is so important. You might even find it fun, too!
Networking is personal. Forming a new relationship involves dedicating time to making connections. Finding ways that you feel comfortable getting to know someone will set you up for success.
There are four (4) best practices you should consider.
1. What do you have to offer?
Effective networking is always a two-way street. Some people may avoid networking because they’re not sure about what they have to offer. Defining what you can give, and your boundaries can help you feel less unsure about networking. When you feel more comfortable, it’s easier to build trust with other people, too.
2. Let curiosity lead the way
Forget collecting a ton of business cards. Instead of aiming to meet as many people as possible, make a goal to have a few deep and engaging conversations with a handful of people. Focus on shared interests and let curiosity be your guide.
Getting people talking about what they care about can help you build a stronger connection. Ask a lot of questions and listen. Be open about your passions, goals, and interests, too.
3. Set bigger goals
Networking can feel sleazy if you’re only out for your benefit. Instead, create networking goals bigger than yourself to avoid becoming intimidated or demanding. Your higher goal can be learning, contributing to your industry, or something else completely. Either way, having a higher purpose can take the focus off you. Keep that higher goal top of mind to maintain your confidence and drive.
4. Find common ground
Remember, everyone at a business networking event is a person, too. Treating everyone like their professional title can make a conversation awkward. While it may seem like that person is miles away from where you are, you might discover that you have more in common than you thought.
Have general questions prepared to ask about people’s interests beyond their work life. Connecting over hobbies can help you create a deeper bond.
How to network
While the fundamentals of business networking are simple, it does take practice to be a good networker. As your network grows, your techniques for supporting your network should, too.
The stronger your network is, the better you’re likely to feel about your career prospects.
1. Choose who you want to develop a relationship with
Networking is all about forming relationships, but most relationships don’t become close after one meeting. Choosing who to follow up with can help you create warmer connections.
However, don’t just choose the people with the best titles. Remember who you shared common interests with and invite them for a coffee or video chat to build the connection.
2. Offer opportunities to your network
When you see a job listing or an article that someone you networked with would find interesting, share it. Be proactive about sharing information and opportunities with your network, even before they ask. They may even start to reciprocate.
3. Network everywhere
Find new places to meet people with intention. Attending events and striking up conversations with confidence can help build your network wherever you go.
Whether you’re at a coffee shop, in an elevator, or in line at the grocery store, you can find a networking opportunity. Aim to discover something new and be open to connecting with new people no matter where you are.
4. Work on your body language
Body language plays a significant role in how we communicate and network. Shifting your body language to be more inclusive and welcoming can help make you a master networker.
For example, instead of crossing your arms, keep your body open and your arms at your sides. This tacit signal aids in building trust and shows people you’re open to connection.
Networking may have seemed like a necessary evil in the past. With these tools, though, you can now create meaningful and impactful relationships everywhere you go. Practising your networking skills can help you become more confident and help you meet new, interesting people.
Networking is part of the Networking and Referrals module in the Business Finance Certification, a professional development program that helps position you as an SME Finance specialist, so you can help your clients succeed and prosper.
For more information go to: