Networking both within your field and outside your field is one of the most effective ways to build your reputation and grow your business since most people want to do business with those they know, like and trust. The most effective networkers got that way through practice, patience and skill since they know that effective networking involves asking smart questions, giving information and not pitching your goods and services to everyone you meet. Effective networkers also know that givers gain, and even if the person they are generous with their time and resources doesn’t reciprocate, they’ll gain in the future because of their efforts.

I’m a writer, but it’s still important to network with other people who are not writers so you can grow your business and build your readership. I have used all of these skills I’m discussing with you today when I had a break in my writing and teaching business and needed to build back my network with professionals who weren’t that familiar with the writing field.

Why Network?

Because you need a strong, dynamic network of over 260+ people to land a better job in the future, to find clients, to find readers, to gain referrals, and to engage in opportunities. You’re building your “sphere of influence.”

Get Started By

  • Preparing a 30-sec commercial that tells those around you what make you different and tells them what you’re passionate about. Also consider who is your ideal client, who you do your best work with and how you help solve people’s problems.
  • Perfecting the art of making introductions for others. For instance, when you meet someone who could help someone else, offer to send an email, cc’ing your new person in the email. And if you can, try setting up a meeting that will involve you and your two mutual contacts. Introduce them to each other and then back off a little so they can get to know each other. If a meeting is too hard to set up, invite your potential networking colleague to an event/program.
  • Scheduling a one-on-one and at your meeting take good notes. Always carry your business cards and your referral partners’ business cards as well so you can pass a name if you need to. Use a binder/business card sheet system that is arranged up alphabetically so you can quickly find your contacts. It’s also a good idea to carry multiples of your colleagues’ cards so you don’t run out.

In the one-on-one, ask your partner these smart questions so you can better know them and their business:

Who is your ideal client?

Who are your best referral partners?

What are your professional goals over the next 90 days?

What challenges are you faced with right now?

What is your passion behind your job/business? (WHY you do what you do?)

Also remember that a one-on-one is never a sales pitch.

Follow up with potential referrals and give them the links and contact information they requested in your one-on-one meeting.

Use the people you know right now in your network even if you share different careers because you never know who can help you land your next client or customer. And remember, strong networks don’t happen overnight, so start growing yours now!

Your turn:
How do you network and do you network with mostly people inside or outside your field?