Nour Noon Nugget: 10 Networking Best Practices

I’ve written about the Top Ten Reasons Most Networking Doesn’t Work. So, what’s the answer? Here are ten ideas for you to consider the next time you find yourself networking online or in person.

Preparation Phase – Your goals, strategies, and tactics will drive efficiency in the preparation phase.

1. Lack of Purpose – Get crystal clear on the Impact for which you’re networking. The impact is the ultimate end result.

2. Fuzzy Goals – Capture no more than 3-5 goals or outcomes you’re after from every networking opportunity. Why are you there, and how will you combine these interactions to move a specific goal forward in your work (and life)?

3. Lack of a Strategic Relationship Development Plan – The planning is more important than the plan. So, create a sequence of steps to create awareness, develop rapport, and exchange value. In that order. Ideal if you’re introduced through others, and you’re best positioned for relevance and immediacy.

Interaction Phase – Different situations mandate different skills, knowledge of the circumstance, and rules of behavior to deliver effective relationship development.

4. Haphazard and Reactive Efforts – Create guardrails in your life, so you’ll stay as focused on your priorities as you become on reactive efforts to avoid. Direct correlation between your prep level and how you show up to every networking opportunity. Plan your work and work your plan.

5. What’s In It for Them? Lead with that. Why would others want to take your call, meet, or work with you? They have to feel (not just be told) that their conditions will dramatically improve because you’re in their life. Add value to every interaction, and always leave them wanting more!

6. Engaging the Wrong People – Stay focused on the Ideal Relationship Profile (IRP) that you should engage and influence. Make a list of the (actual) people or profiles of individuals who can contribute to your forward moment. If they’re not on that list, think twice about the investment you’re about to make. Learn to say no and disengage early in the process.

Follow-Through Phase – Systematic, disciplined thought and action will drive recognition during the follow-through phase.

7. Failing to Arm Others with the Right Ammunition – Create a one-page bio (front & back) with a professional headshot focused on your growth strategy, top 3-5 prioritized pursuits, and key metrics you’ll hold yourself accountable for. Add individuals (or their profiles) you’d like to meet or get to know better and why. Finally, create a section with critical areas of knowledge, expertise, or influential relationships you could help others with. Customize this template and share it with every relationship.

8. No Ideal Relationship Profile or Relational Onramp – Focus on fewer, yet work diligently on building, nurturing, and sustaining more authentic relationships. Capture sample business relationships you currently cherish, protect, and invest in for others to get a sense of your commitment to this value-based approach. Share examples of how you’ve begun a relationship, added material value, and you’re both better off because you’re in a business relationship.

9. Lacking Relationship Insight Validation – Triangulate, through three (3) independent sources, the critical assumptions you make about information or people critical to your success. Create a list of succinct questions to validate, verify, or otherwise void what you think you know. Never go into a networking interaction with assumptions. Instead, ask power questions to engage and influence their thinking and action.

10. Givers, Takers, and Investors – Become a consistent business relationship investor. Make three (3) investments of time, effort, and resources without asking for anything in return. If you can’t get the other person to engage, be polite, but deprioritize them, so you can prioritize others you choose to invest in. Demand respect for your time, effort, and resources.

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