How are you building your network?

I was honored to be one of the speakers on the Networking panel at Spark Networking.  The other panelists and I had compiled a list of tips, such as,

Do ask thought-provoking questions that won’t have a yes/no answer.

Do have an elevator pitch.

Do be engaging; develop relationships.

Don’t try to sell your product or service when networking.

Don’t request or provide contact information until you’ve talked to someone.

These and the other tips were meant to aide the participants at Spark in taking their networking skills to the next level. The tips varied on topic, but there was one consistent message = Networking is about having conversations that develop into connections.  Networking is about using these conversations to share the information that develops relationships.  Networking is like weaving a spiderweb of interconnected people. spiderweb2 And like a well-built spider web, that network that you are building needs to be strong and “sticky”.  It needs to branch out from it’s center – You – and continue to grow with each interaction.

When building your network, it is important to remember that the integrity of the web will only be as solid as

– the work you put into building it

– the relationships that you build to connect it

– your honesty, integrity and authenticity that give it strength and stability

My friend and business coach, JJ Reich, put it very well in his post “How Strong is your Network?”

Networking Is All About Building Trust

What most people fail to recognize is that networking is about trust more than anything else. And trust requires that people “feel” that you care about them – not just their pocketbook. They need to feel that you understand who they are and what makes them tick (at least at a cursory level).

You don’t build trust by telling people who YOU are.
Instead, you build trust by understanding who THEY are.

Effective networking not only makes a contact, it makes a connection.  It requires you to utilize your communication and your organization skills.  More importantly though, effective networking is accomplished through honest, authentic curiosity.  Take the time to learn about the other person, develop a relationship with them and build trust between you and them.   These things develop the kind of connections that can be weaved into the strong, sticky spiderweb that will “trap” and hold your business growth.

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