“Networking Connection”


 Professional Women in Building, “Building Women” Summer 2011 Issue

The Networking Connection
By Darylene Dennon

Whether you are engaging face-to-face or networking online, you need a plan that connects all your networking practices. Don’t waste your precious time; create an efficient strategy that works for you.

The in-person approach

For example, let’s say I meet someone at a business networking event. (I always plan to meet at least three new contacts at an event.) I do a great job selling myself and my company. I also gather information about the other person and collect her business card.

With me so far? Now, back at the office, I enter the business card into my contacts database, and I invite my new contact to my social media networks. I also send her a “nice to meet you” email and ask her to attend another business event I plan to attend. Then I forward the invite, email a reminder later and call to confirm she plans to attend.

I think you have the idea. Create a basic plan before you go to an event and connect online via social media or your website/blog afterward. No matter where you make the contact, always follow up and continue the connection.

 Make your in-person appearance count

Women are great a working the room because they generally are more community-oriented and enjoy linking their thoughts, ideas and hearts with others. But women have been trained not to “toot their own horn” and are sometimes better at promoting others than themselves. Like it or not, you have to want to stand out above the rest and be remembered if you want to move up the corporate ladder or grow your business.

Men tend to be more driven by what is in it for them personally. It isn’t that men think less about community and family; they simply interact differently with the world. So understand the differences and make sure to promote yourself — in your own way.

The online approach
As another example, let’s say I find someone within my social media network online and want to make contact with him. I do some research to find out if he has a website and check out his contact page. I look for any indication that he encourages folks to get in touch. He has a LinkedIn icon on his website, so I decide to introduce myself on his profile page on LinkedIn by sending him a message.
I make sure my message is short, and I briefly explain why I want to connect. I keep it down to 50 words or less, and then I add, “If this is not of interest, feel no need to get back to me.” That’s all that’s needed, and I don’t expect an instant response, if any.
If he does respond with a positive comment, then we chat and I ask him if I can add him to my network. I focus on the relationship and keep the doors open for future communication.
I have made some great contacts this way and have later met them face to face by inviting them to events that I am attending.

Make social media work for you

If you aren’t networking online, you are missing out in more ways than you can imagine. Not only are your current customers interacting online, so are your competitors and potential clients and business connections. Social media is a great way to keep in touch, on target and aware of others who are in the same market.

One of the best things about online networking is being able to research what other people are doing. Keeping up with trends and being able to ask questions of experts from all around the world are great benefits of interacting in cyberspace.

To sum it up, my advice is to feel comfortable talking about yourself and your business and keep up with the connections you have made both in person and online. Happy networking!

Darylene Dennon is an owner of Solid Energy Inc., a residential painting company based in Woodinville, WA She also is a National Association of Home Builders,  Professional Women in Building,  Area 15 Trustee.