Last month, we talked about networking as part of your marketing, and the importance of setting goals, planning your activity and tracking results. Following on from that, let’s look in a bit more depth at networking activity. What does it mean to be an ‘active networker’?
“I go to my hub meetings every fortnight, so I am a networker – right?” At Fresh, we’d say that’s a start, but it’s certainly not the full picture.
Active networking is a mindset that is always looking to build connections, for yourself and others. So it’s not just about fortnightly attendance, it’s really about what you do between those hub meetings. It’s pretty much daily actions that become engrained and entrenched in the way you run your business.
So what does ‘active networking’ look like in practical terms? Here are the six things that all active networkers know.
1. Get personal
A group meeting is great, but active networkers take time to have one to one conversations. These are a great opportunity to really get to know and trust someone. Active networkers ask about the problem the other person solves and what to listen out for in an ideal referral.
2. Connect online
When they meet someone new, active networkers understand the value of online platforms to stay connected. At Fresh, we actively encourage members and guests to connect on LinkedIn. Seeing what your contacts post and share helps to develop the relationship, showcase your expertise and build trust.
Active networkers are frequent visitors to Fresh’s Facebook groups. They know it’s a great place to ask for help, find someone who’s looking for exactly what they do, or to find out about educational, social and networking events.
3. Visit other hubs
Ask an active networker what the best thing is about lockdown and they’ll tell you: “The opportunity to visit more hubs”. Being online means that members of Mornington can attend in Abbotsford without the massive rush-hour schlep across the city. Active networking is all about building connections and visiting other hubs is one of the best ways to meet more people. Carol Benton, of Brighton hub told Fresh “Since lockdown, I have visited so many more hubs, sometimes attending three meetings a week. In that time, my referrals have doubled in number, and tripled in value.”
4. Make introductions
Active networkers understand that it’s not just about referrals. They make introductions between people who are in the same industry, might share a common goal, or simply people they feel would like and be able to help each other.
5. Attend other networking events
Whilst we know that Fresh is the best networking group, we do (grudgingly) admit that other networking events are available. Active networkers seek out a range of networking opportunities and always say ‘yes’ when they are invited events. They understand that opportunity is everywhere, they just have to put themselves in a place where it can find them.
6. Invite others
Active networkers understand that guests are the lifeblood of networking events. They are the key to learning about other businesses, expanding our networks and keeping things from getting stale. They don’t see it as a chore – they offer their contacts an opportunity to meet new people and promote their business.
Are you an active networker?
Active networking is first and foremost a state of mind. A state of mind that is always looking to connect, to understand and to grow. Then it’s about taking action, following the six tips above to make networking an integral part of your everyday life. We encourage you to review your networking plan and what you could add to make yourself into a truly active networker.