Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin are fantastic social media networking tools that the mobile food industry has learned to use since its inception, however some of the most important business networking takes place in person.
Most people consider themselves bad at networking, so if you are struggling, know you are not alone. You can get good at networking if you are not good at it today. But you get good at it by doing it, not by reading about it. It gets easier and gets more comfortable with practice. The more you do it, the more sense it makes and the more valuable it gets.
Not yet a member of a networking group? The culture is different in each one – the times they meet, the kinds of events they plan, the number of people in each line of work they permit to join – all of it plays into whether it’s the right group for you.
You can build a network without going to uncomfortable networking events and eating cheese and collecting stacks of business cards. You can do it by meeting a few people you genuinely like each year and then staying in touch with them.
Build your network by giving genuine value to others. The more you do this; you will experience gratitude, fun, and benefits. Your network only has as much value as you put into it.
Two rules you should live by are:
- Give when you don’t need anything.
- Always give more than you take.
Just remember, because someone belongs to your networking group doesn’t automatically mean he or she is the best in their line of work. Being members of the same group, however, means you are giving them a chance to earn your trust, just as you are hoping others will trust and believe in you. It gives you time to ‘pick their brains’ about what they do, see how they respond and communicate with you, and whether you are a good match to refer one another business, all in a non-threatening social environment.
Be the one to make the effort to stay in touch. Maintaining contact is a key form of giving to your network.