I was speaking with a colleague the other day about one of the unpleasant side effects of business networking – the inevitable flood of phone call and email solicitations from aggressive salespeople looking to close a deal. This is hardly an effective way for anyone to grow their personal or professional network.
To me, business networking is simple. It’s all about meeting new people and getting them to engage with or, in Facebook terms, to “like” you. It’s about building trust through the establishment of a longer-tem relationship. And getting a business card from someone you’ve just met is the first step.
What you do with that business card is often the difference between growing and not growing your network. A follow-up note (e.g., “great to meet you, thanks for your time, looking forward to…”), an offer to help me in some way, or even a request to connect in LinkedIn are some great ways to continue the conversation with me. Each of these steps offers value. It shows me you genuinely care about helping others like me and, in return, it makes me more open to helping you.
If you are looking to grow your network, internalize the phrase I learned when I achieved my membership in the Order of the Arrow, the Boy Scouts of America's Honor Society: “He who serves his fellows is of all his fellows greatest.”
For more insights on growing your network, check out these posts:
- Service Before Self: Why Strength of Character Compels Others to Do Business With You
- Social Media Playground Rules – Are You a Giver or a Taker?
- Business Networking in a Foreign Land