Great networkers are good networkers who have just taken their craft a little bit further. Everyone of us is born with the need for relationship and the ability to communicate. It’s just that some people seem to make all the right connections and get so much more from their networking. Here’s how you can do the same:

In the world of business, networking is crucial. You might be outward facing with a sales angle to you role, trying to hit targets and create business opportunities. You might have a number of stakeholders and partners to build relationships with. You might be internally focused but ambitious, planning moves up the corporate ladder and needing to build your professional profile.

Whatever the reason, good business networking skills are vital for serious business professionals looking for maximum reach, profile and influence. Here are five of the top traits of the best professional, profitable and productive networkers:

  1. Network Strategically. Time is precious. It’s a finite resource. Network where you will have the most impact – the biggest bang for your buck! Decide who you want to be known by; who you want to get on the radar of. Decide what you want your network to look like. Then cast your net where those fish are swimming. There are at least eight different strategies to network depending on your goals. Network on purpose!
  2. Ask Good Questions. Good networkers are good conversationalists. They are especially good listeners. And to do that, you often need good questions. You need to open people up and give them a safe platform to share their pain, problems, projects and plans. Only then can you help, sympathize, resource, connect and even sell to. How could your raise your game with the level and quality of questions you ask people in networking situations?
  3. Give Good Answers. If you want to network productively and effectively, you need to take your chances. You might just meet people once. You’ve got to make an impact. You know that you’re going to get asked ‘what do you do?’ You know you’ll be asked ‘how’s business?’ or ‘how are things going?’ These are great opportunities for you to open a door and create a memorable impression. The great networkers do this with prepared answers, stories, examples and ‘ethical bragging’ that gets them remembered.
  4. Make the First Move. Great networkers are very proactive. They reach out to people. They connect people. They go up to people and introduce themselves. They extend invitations and requests. You don’t need to be an extrovert to do this. A simple ‘hello’ has worked wonders for centuries. Networks are built. They don’t just happen. Who is out there needing to meet you, but not yet knowing who you are? Remember a stranger is just somebody you’ve not yet met!
  5. Follow Through. Great networkers stay connected and keep in touch. They are organized, diligent, consistent and productive with time. They use mobile and online technology to manage a huge number of contacts. They constantly seek ways to add value and stay ‘front of mind’ with key contacts. If you want to be great, you’ve got to do the same.

Business networking should be an integral part of your professional development. If your company or employer won’t train you, you’ll have to acquire those skills yourself. A little education, a little coaching, a little mentoring and a little practising will go a long way. Happy networking!

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