I often get told my reputation precedes me, not only in my professional life but in my personal life too. This is my nature it is not something i have to force, perhaps because of the way i was brought up as a Buddhist in a very business focused family, or perhaps i just learnt to always be that little bit cheeky.
I am not talking about the rigid networking events where 20 sales people turn up to do a sales pitch, i am talking about something entirely different...
Networking is an art-form
In this day and age honing in on your network is perhaps one of the most valuable intangible assets you have.
Here are some useful tips to get the best out of your contacts:
Kindness costs nothing, but can brighten someones entire day, it could change someones entire life.
Give and you will receive
Be a giver, it could be the smallest thing but be a believer in something coming back around. Invest time in relationships, take that 5 minutes out of your day to help someone and you will be surprised at how much you can gain from the smallest gestures. People always remember the people that helped them.
Act as if
Be an expert, act like an expert, talk like an expert, but truly believe you are an expert. OK maybe you aren't at that level just yet but if you are that convincing people will take notice and eventually you will become the expert in that field because everything around you has propelled you to that status. My first ever client was LEGO who I picked up with 2 weeks experience in recruitment - I went on to recruit their entire marketing team, I had no clue what I was talking about at the time, 6 years later I am regarded as an expert in what I do. Why? Because i always believed i was.
It makes you stand out, it gives you credibility, be everyone's go-to person, recommend others and ask for recommendations. On a daily basis i will get calls from recommendations, these are the best calls because someone valued you and believes that what you bring to the table is worth recommending.
Be a Ferrari.
OK they are a little more expensive than your average runaround, but does it stop people wanting them no. Be the best, be of pure quality and be known for it. Never lower your standards.
Same Same, but Different
Treat everyone the same, that junior associate just starting out who needs a helping hand, who knows they could be a future CEO, treat everyone as equals.
So personally i do not watch any television, frankly i don't like it. I read. Whether its the latest trends in FMCG, what is going on in the Retail markets, or as sad as it sounds reading the back of cartons in the grocery store. What? I need to know who the manufacturer is. Be that person that can add value to a conversation, that is what you will be remembered for.
Stay in touch
Don't be a collector, business cards scattered around your desk is wasted. Say hello every now and then but don't spam people! Create the deep personal connections. I personally have a little black book, one day that book will be worth millions.
Lets Play Cupid
Piece things together. Try to think of who you know that might be able to help. I never disregard someones problem if I don't think i can help, i will often sit and think of who i know that could help. Be a matchmaker.
Don't shy away from events because you don't know many people, just go or if you know someone is new to the region invite them along. This is something i am an advocate for.
My contacts span the world, and i am proud of that. From travelling I gained some superstar contacts, professionally i have watched my candidates move continents and socially... well I am not at a loss of places to stay in most major cities.
the best networking tip of all?