Below are six tips that I have always found to be very helpful:
1. Make yourself known as a powerful resource for others. When you are known as a strong resource, people will remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. This keeps you visible to them and makes them more likely to recommend you to others.
2. Have a clear understanding of what you do and why, for whom. Articulate what sets you apart from others doing the same thing. Standing out in this way will generate referrals from those who notice the difference.
3. Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Feel free to return the favor – recommendations can go both ways. A well-thought out and sincere recommendation will do wonders for your reputation as a networker. Respect and honor that and your referrals will grow!
4. Always keep your integrity - build trust and reputation. Sometimes a situation arises which tempts us to do the wrong thing, causing a difficult decision that could have been avoided. Making such a mistake can damage business and personal integrity. We are all human; mistakes happen. If you do make a mistake or wrong decision - whether it significantly undermines your integrity or not - always admit it and apologize. Failing to apologize for wrong-doing will damage your integrity and reputation far more than the original misjudgment itself.
5. Focus on establishing quality contacts versus quantity. Most people have experienced the person who, while talking to you, keeps his eyes roving around the room, seeking his next victim. This individual is more interested in handing out and collecting business cards than establishing a relationship. Always focus on the quality of the connection and people will become much more trusting of you. This will allow for stronger and longer-lasting relationships.
6. Once you have established a professional network, let it work for you! If you’re looking for a new opportunity, reach out to those in your network who may be able to aid in your search. Point out your carefully cultivated recommendations; ask others to put in a good word for you with hiring managers that may be in their network. This makes your search much easier and more effective.
When you focus on really getting to know people, you will build quality, productive relationships that will work for you and your business over and over again. Luckily, there are tools like LinkedIn now which help to build larger and more complete networks. So get out there and cultivate yours now!
-Glynda Mealer, President