Business Networking Tip: How to Make and Utilize Contacts, Not Lose Them

Networking is the art of making and using your contacts.

Too often people think it’s all about “getting,” but the truth is, you have to give to get.

Just how do you make this philosophy work?

business-networking-tip1. First: Selling is not marketing; networking is marketing. Networking is not the place for selling. Networking, as a process, is about being “other” focused first.

Business people have limiting beliefs about networking. Get over them if you have these or similar ones: “I don’t find networking events that profitable;” “I don’t meet the right people.” Beliefs like this clutter your chances for success.

Try this: First, find the furthest most opposite belief from the negative one about networking you have. Then, turn the furthest opposite belief into a question, as I learned from Noah St John. Apparently for many people, like me, affirmation statements of positive beliefs aren’t all that effective. Questions, not just for introverts, get our mind wondering, wandering to new places and creating new possibilities.

When you get rid of what you don’t want, starting with what’s in your mind, you’ll make room for what you do.

For example, “I don’t find networking events that profitable;” becomes something like “Why do I find the clients I want at any networking event?” Or tweak it to something that works for you.

business-networking-hub2. Second: Attend networking events as a hub, instead of a hook, to more quickly become known as the “go to” person. Pay attention to what people are saying outside of what you sell or provide.

You already know how to listen for that, right? Now listen more closely( like most introverts would anyway): is someone dissatisfied with a hairdresser? Did someone want to a landscape service? Maybe you heard someone say their car needed service?

Try this: At the next event you attend, listen outside of what you want. Listen more to what’s being said just about what the person who you are meeting with needs, or wants. Within 48 hours follow-up with a telephone call or handwritten note saying you found the very person who could help them with that situation.

networking-followup-system3. Third: Make the swap card event a system. Follow-up is a system within the sales process. Think of it as the main way you will not lose contacts. How many times do you regularly attend an event, see many of the same people, but you have no mechanism to follow-up?

Create a system for yourself. However that may look. Look at the card for a moment upon the exchange, then file it; or ask to make a note on the back of a card if it’s someone you want to connect with later on; follow up within 24 hours by telephone or handwritten note within 48 hours. Or make your life easy and send a real handwritten note with my favorite online greeting card system for salespeople.

One self-professed introvert told me that going to a networking event thinking like a hub, has opened up a totally new way of approaching networking for him. If you begin to network with a process mindset, it will become much clearer to you that it’s not about you. Networking without selling will attract more business more easily.

Try this: If you are using LinkedIn and you want to connect with someone do some research before you invite them to connect. Simply read their profile to find something in common or of sincere interest. Then when you email them to connect, make it a warm invitation to include something that caught your eye in their profile.

But maybe there are other parts of the sales process that you have some reluctance. Would you let me know what it is?

Or maybe you have a tip to add to

Business Networking Tip:  How to Make and Utilize Contacts, Not Lose Them ?


Original post published, Jan 24, 2009

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  1. Ken Dowell

    Another was to say this is that effective networking means talking about the things that the people you meet want to hear about, not the things that you want to say.

  2. Am sure you are not surprised to hear I agree with you, Patricia. Personally hate to get a sales call from someone I met at a networking event the next day though. Insurance people are notable for that. Why don’t they instead send you a note for instance saying that next time you are interested in looking over your insurance you should give them a call and they will come up with favourable solutions for you. Not hard sales the minute you have exchanged busines cards.
    catarina.alexon recently posted…CSR & Sustainability – capitalism at its bestMy Profile

  3. Jacqueline Gum

    I think I have been very effective of ridding my mind of the things I don’t want. Actually, I may have been a little too effective. I have to agree with Catarina on this one… long been a sore spot that I start getting sales calls the day after a networking event. Personally, I think it sours the idea of future events for me.
    Jacqueline Gum recently posted…A Break For Where’s The JusticeMy Profile

  4. Great tips for actually using the connections that you make. I think a lot of people do just end up collecting cards and leaving it at that.

    Creating a follow up system for yourself is surely something I would implement. Setting up those kinds of steps would ensure the contact is kept alive.

    When I try to maintain connections with others I try to send a note every now and then when I’m not speaking with them just to keep it somewhat fresh.

    Lea Bullen recently posted…Are You Feeding Yourself This Bologna???My Profile

  5. Jeannette Paladino

    I hate being sold to at a networking event. It is a complete turnoff. If you do meet someone you’d like to connect with, make contact within 24 hours (as you advise). Otherwise, that contact may not have any idea who you are if you wait two weeks to write or call. Out of sight, out of mind.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…The Downside of the Decline of Blogging Among the Fortune 500My Profile

  6. It is interesting that I’m reading this article today. Earlier this week I reached out to a person I met earlier in the year at a networking event. I asked her if she knew a lawyer she would recommend to help me with a disclaimer. Today, she gave me the name of someone who I realized I was already connected to on LinkedIn because I met him earlier this year at a networking event. She also met him networking. I haven’t networked as much in the last few months, but your article definitely has me rethinking the whole networking thing!
    Erica recently posted…My Health Trend Picks for the New YearMy Profile

  7. Useful stuff here. Although I attend events this highlights that I haven’t been good at the follow up!
    Rosalind recently posted…Plants: Tulip planting timeMy Profile

  8. This is invaluable advice, we all need to increasingly learn to make the most of our contacts and certainly not loose them! Thank you for sharing!

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