Networking is one of the most important things you can do for your career. But it’s not always easy to know how to network effectively. The goal of any networking event shouldn’t be aimlessly collecting business cards – it should be planting the seed to grow and develop meaningful relationships.

Here are three steps that will help you network to effectively build relationships:

Listen and ask questions.

Networking shouldn’t be your elevator pitch on repeat – it should be a chance to build strategic partnerships. Let the people you’re speaking to know that you’re not just there to promote yourself or your business, but that you actually care about who they are. Ask meaningful questions and seek to truly get to know them.

In any conversation, it’s important to be an active listener. This means really paying attention to what the other person is saying and responding in a way that shows you’re engaged. Ask questions and follow up on points that interest you. Trust us – your attentiveness will go a long way.

See beyond what someone does.

Many people attend networking events with the idea that they should only talk to people who could be potential clients or customers. This is the wrong approach! Try to find the opportunity for collaboration in every connection. You never know who could potentially be an excellent – if not obvious – strategic partner or referral source.

A great way to start building relationships is by finding common interests and shared values. Once you’ve established a rapport, you can start to explore ways in which you might be able to help each other. Remember, networking is all about building connections that can benefit both parties involved.

Follow up with people you meet in meaningful ways. 

While it’s a good idea to send a follow-up email and/or follow your new contacts on social media, we recommend developing the connections in more meaningful ways. Schedule a 1-on-1, either in-person or on Zoom, to get to get to know your new connections better and authentically build those relationships.

How can you further develop these relationships authentically?

  1. Invite them to an event or meeting that is relevant to their interests. If you know they’re a fan of a certain author, for example, ask them to come to your book club meeting. Or if they’re involved in a certain charity, invite them to an upcoming fundraiser.
  2. Offer assistance. If you know they’re struggling with a particular project, offer to help out. Or, if they need recommendations for a service provider, send them a list of contacts you trust. Simply put, go above and beyond what is expected in order to really stand out.

Developing meaningful relationships takes time and effort, but it’s well worth the investment. By taking the time to get to know people on a deeper level and extending beyond just a business transaction, you’ll be establishing long-term relationships that can benefit both you and your contacts.

If you want more great tips on how to effectively network, check out Sarah’s Wealthy Wednesday chat in the Money Bitch Facebook Community. And if you’re looking for additional help in growing and scaling your business, book a discovery call with us.