Successful Networking –
The Secret Ingredient

Successful Networking – The Secret Ingredient

Once upon a time, successful networking consisted of a handshake, a conversation over a cup of coffee, and an exchange of business cards. Dialogue regarding mutual interests and concerns would dominate the meeting, culminating in a future discussion, a sale, or a proposed collaboration. Flash forward to the present day, and networking has evolved into an online and virtual version of the coffee-shop meeting.

What has not changed is the primary purpose of networking: to connect and engage with your audience. Whether it’s one person across the table or hundreds of followers on your Instagram account, your goal is to forge meaningful connections with lasting effects. 

Successful networking is about building relationships. So, how can you connect, engage, and build a relationship with your audience?

It's Not About You

If you want to be successful at networking, you must keep in mind that it really isn’t about you. It’s about your audience; what matters to them and the issues or challenges they face that you can solve. Your current or future customer is not interested in your product; they are interested in solving a problem or challenge.

To connect and engage with your audience, you need to set aside your story and your product or service. It’s time to listen to your audience, get to know them, understand their needs, and what motivates them. It’s not that your story is unimportant; your story absolutely matters, but only to the extent that it helps people tell the story they want to tell about themselves.

By focusing on your audience, you can align aspects of your story and your product or service with their needs. This approach can foster authentic engagement. When your connections are based on an intention to solve a problem, you can present rather than push your product or service. The content you create for your audience, whether it’s an Instagram post or a blog, should be about them. 

How can you consistently create content that resonates with your customers? Try educating them; solve a problem they are experiencing. They will view you as the subject matter expert. This builds awareness of your brand and increases traffic to your website.

The Secret Ingredient

The secret ingredient to successful networking is empathy. Again, this is an opportunity to be authentic. Empathy is not about pretending to feel something. It’s about putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, connecting with their point of view, thoughts, or feelings.

Empathy enables you to better understand your customer and their needs. It also helps you create content that resonates with your audience. Fortunately, empathy is a skill that anyone can learn, simply by reading fiction. 

Novels teach you how to inhabit a character’s mind, enhancing your ability to empathize with your audience, leading to better content, connections, and engagement.

Online Networking

Many businesses today utilize social media platforms to network. In fact, engagement on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn has become its own marketing and networking strategy. 

Engagement translates into visibility of your posts, a boost in your credibility, and connecting with your customers. It’s akin to the human head-tilt during a coffee-shop meeting, showing that your customer is attentive and engaged; they are “liking,” sharing, commenting, and clicking on links.

To foster this engagement, create content that connects with your audience in a unique voice. You need to establish your business as an industry leader while standing apart from competitors. Writing a blog allows you to explore sub-topics in-depth and is one of the most effective ways to build brand awareness while providing relevant and useful content to your target audience. 

Consistency is key across all platforms. Post regularly to build brand credibility and spark curiosity about your products and services.

The Virtual Coffee Shop

Virtual meetings, with or without coffee, offer a fantastic opportunity for successful networking. Video calls allow you and your customer to see each other as if in person. Body language and facial expressions make it easier to establish a connection and be authentic – especially with someone new.

Location becomes irrelevant, enabling you to connect and engage with anyone, anywhere. And just as you would arrive early to a coffee shop, give yourself extra time to prepare for your virtual meeting to ensure your technology is working smoothly.

Successful networking is about connecting, engaging, and building relationships with your customers, whether through a blog, an Instagram post, or a virtual meeting. The result is brand awareness and increased website traffic. Even without a handshake, a connection can be established, proving that successful networking transcends time and technology.

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