People say, cynically, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” They see networking as an opportunity to use people. That’s not the way to do it. What’s really important is WHO KNOWS YOU. You need to effectively tell vivid stories that illustrate your expertise and attend many events at organizations to increase your visibility.
Expert networkers are also skillful small talkers. But, it’s a myth that people are born with the gift of gab or without it. Anybody can learn to small talk and to use small talk to create valuable networking relationships.
Often people think they have a network because they belong to a lot of organizations. Not so. You can fill out the membership forms, pay your dues, receive the newsletter, and even go to events, and still not have a network. You only have a network when you create active relationships that are mutually advantageous.
Your Networking Checklist:
Who did I introduce myself to? How many names do I remember? What lead or resource can I be on the lookout for, for each of them?
Did I meet new people as well as talk to people I already knew?
How many times was I a great connector, introducing people to other people?
Do I know who the leaders are? Did I greet them, become known to them, help them?
Did I arrive early or at least on time?
What did I give away?
What plans did I make to extend the event beyond the event?
Did I give away/exchange business cards? With whom? Why? Did I jot down a reminder?
Did I listen generously? How did it build the relationship?
What follow up did I do?