4 Tips for Effective Networking
Professional networking is one of the most common, and arguably most important, marketing tactics utilized by staffing professionals. In addition to being a great tool for forging new client relationships, actively networking also opens the doors to finding more high-quality recruits and solidifies your staffing firm’s place in the local community.
However, networkers must find ways in which to provide value to their newfound connections in order to build strong, mutually beneficial relationships. Shaking hands and shoving cards into people’s hands is insufficient, but finding ways to provide added value to new connections can be daunting. Here are four tips to help you network more effectively and create stronger bonds with new connections.
1: Focus on relationship building, not selling.
Networking events are great for picking up new clients, but no one likes a hard sell. Take your time to get to know attendees that you find interesting—or who could most use your services—and focus on building relationships with those people before making your pitch. It may take a little more time, but creating a genuine relationship can pay dividends, both in new business and new connections.
2: Always have a purpose, and add value to every conversation.
Networking events are great for small talk, but remember that they are work events and people are giving up personal time to advance their careers and businesses. Therefore, always have a purpose when you start a conversation at a networking event, beyond just selling.
For example, rather than shooting the breeze for 10 minutes with a new connection, handing them your card and making your pitch, try listening for ways in which you can serve them during conversation and then act on those items. Perhaps you can introduce them to another person that can help them in some way, or maybe it’s as simple as being able to give them a little advice to help with a recent challenge. Whatever the case, knowing the reason for your conversation up front will help you to stay more focused and create more value in the relationship.
3: Keep the conversation going outside the event.
Following up should be a no-brainer, but it is often overlooked, especially when the prospects for an immediate sale aren't high. Even if a connection doesn’t appear to be a cash cow for your business, they can still open numerous other doors to opportunities within their network, if you stay connected. Meet up with connections for a quick coffee to get to know them a bit better and connect with them on social media as soon as possible.
But don’t stop there. Actively engage with their social content whenever possible, and be sure to include them in any groups that they may find relevant to their work. This adds value to an otherwise lukewarm relationship, keeping you and your business top of mind, without being pushy.
4: Mix up your networking groups.
If you attend numerous events hosted by the same groups chances are that, eventually, your well of new connections is going to run dry. Try being proactive by researching and attending new groups as often as possible. This allows you to put yourself, and your business, in front of as many new people as possible, giving you the opportunity to add value to a host of new relationships.
And don’t pass up on the opportunity to join relevant social media interest groups. Not only can you get your message in front of new potential connections, you can also actively engage the content being created by others, opening the door for building stronger relationships.
BONUS: Take time to network within your own company.
Often there are people within your own company that can be of tremendous networking value. This is especially true of staffing franchises, such as AtWork, in which a network of franchisees around the country may be called upon. Take the time to connect with coworkers on social media and in person in order to share ideas and best practices, but always remember to go that extra mile and add value.
Marketing your staffing firm via face-to-face and social media networking can be an effective tactic to make new connections that can take your business to the next level, or it can be an enormous waste of time. Putting effort into building strong relationships by adding value to your networking interactions is a great way to keep yourself, and your business, top-of-mind for potential clients and job seekers alike.
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