The Art of Friendly Networking
If you can recall being on the playground, meeting a new playmate on a jungle gym, and being able to make an instant friend on the spot as a child, you can understand the appeal of networking in a business sense with those already close to the heart.
Just as easy as it was to be young and to gain a new companion, it was also harmless to then exchange favors with a new pal. Your new friend might have had a battery operated toy puppy that could do backflips and other cool moves. In exchange for getting to play with the toy, you could offer to teach your friend how to actually do a backflip (provided you knew how to do it!).
It’s the perfect balance of give and take which, at such a young age, is completely harmless and doesn’t come with an ulterior motive. There are no scheming expectations or additional “you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours” favors because children make friends without judgment. If they like you, then they like you.
Who is to say that grownups in the business world may not network with the same intentions? The only problem is getting outside of your comfort zone during the networking process and meeting new people, instead of staying put with what you already know.
The main arguments against networking inside a circle of friends are:
- The possibility of ruining a friendship due to business envy. Landing an impressive client or getting another raise while your friend at an opposing company is still on minimum wage? It gets hard to talk about what you do without making it sound like bragging after a while, and jealousy on the other side can build up easily…
- … So it’s best to keep business out of the friendship entirely in case one friend does better than the other.
It gets hard to keep your professional and personal life separate after a while so why not branch outside of your inside friendship circle and network outside of the box? You can still build the same lasting friendships that you once made on the playground with the tips below:
ALWAYS Bring a Business Card!
Or cards, as you’ll need many of them. Make sure all of the contact information included is current. If you’re doing something else you know an individual would be interested in hearing more about, keep a pen handy to write down additional info.
Send a Follow-up Email
After meeting at a social or networking function, gather up your business cards and send out a follow-up email to everyone you met. It should mention how glad you were to meet them and that you would be interested if they would ever like to work with you. You can also look up new business acquaintances via LinkedIn and connect there too—connecting via social media platforms is also extremely important.
Treat Them as More than Just Contacts
Don’t just email associates you’ve begun building relationships with for work favors only. Ask them if they’d like to meet up for lunch, visit your office, or even just send them emails from time to time seeing how they’re doing, just because. It’s definitely appreciated!
Originally posted by SmallBizClub