1. To build opportunities for business
2. To build relationships and trust (which may lead to business and/or referrals)
3. To obtain peer support
There were many other different reasons for networking including using it as an opportunity for public speaking/promotion, giving and receiving referrals, a chance to be mentored, support with goal setting and accountability as well as a chance to socialise with people like them.
Strategies differed widely. There are those who prefer to build loyal relationships with a couple of regular groups, and those who like to choose their events by topic or a potential opportunity. Some like to network multiple times per week and some a couple of times a month. Some prefer formal structure and some are more comfortable in an informal environment over coffee.
So, how can we increase our chances of success? How can we grow our businesses and develop our authentic selves? Perhaps the key is to decide what you want from networking before setting out then take an organic approach.
- Know what you want to grow (Choose your targets)
- Prepare the ground in the right place (Attend the right events)
- Sow a few seeds (Listen and ensure your contribution is useful)
- Nourish budding relationships (Feed them with support and empathy)
- Watch the fruits of your labour grow (Business grows naturally)
Organic Networking is surely what we are doing when we follow our individual and carefully planned strategy whilst retaining our authenticity?