John Harvey talks Networking and Social Capital
My heart sinks a little when I hear the words “…that wasn't worth going to” or even, “I wish every networking event could be that good.” Well people, I have news for you: it’s what you make of your networking that counts.
Not all networking events are created, or indeed intended, to be equal – there’s the niche event that focuses on your particular sector, the industry-wide gathering and the general county-wide event, to name but a few. Depending on a number of factors including what your business is and how well you prepare for an event, you’ll find these variously more or less beneficial at different times.
As networking is the backbone of my marketing and business development strategy I’ve refined a four-step recipe that can help you consistently generate opportunities through networking. Some elements of this are great habits you can assimilate into your everyday - habits that’ll help you generate new business:
1. Credibility – the fastest way to build credibility, trust and loyalty is to do what you say you’re going to do, when you’re going to do it. Be punctual, people-focused (i.e. don’t think about selling, think about creating connections) and find simple ways to help the people you meet.
2. Awareness – this is about self-awareness and awareness of, and sensitivity towards, others. It’s essential to consciously cultivate your personal brand – what you do, how you do it, your place in the world and how you present yourself; and just as importantly, being aware of who it is you’re serving, working with and for.
3. Visibility – keep yourself top of people’s minds by attending events regularly and consistently posting and interacting on the social media channels that are most effective for your business. Develop your own voice, (part of that personal brand thing), be distinctive but adapt messages depending on the platform you’re posting on.
4. Social Capital – “the actual or potential resources…of a durable network of…relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition” (Bourdieu 1983). Vital in helping you network effectively – social capital is the influence and reach you have within your network, the goodwill you generate and the things you do for others, and also what others do for you. Social capital is the most valuable of networking assets, something that grows over time if you practise building credibility, awareness and staying highly visible.
Image - by Toby Weller