Top 5 Tips for Networking & Making Profitable Connections

Feb 27, 2022
Santa Barbara Business Expo Networking

Successful business growth, leadership, expansion of your reach and influence, are all desirable results of effective networking activities and making profitable connections. Connections lead to learning about others and building relationships that have the capacity to change the trajectory of your life - choose wisely.

First of all, let's look at the definition of "Profitable". According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary: "Profitable definition is - affording profits : yielding advantageous returns or results."

Often when people hear the word "profitable" they think money, financial profit or gain. Honestly, when you saw the word "profitable", what came to your mind?

So, going along with the definition: "yielding advantageous returns or results", it then becomes more personal, doesn't it? If you would survey 10 people and ask them what they would consider an advantageous result, specifically, you would probably get a variation of answers. Synonyms for "profitable" include: 1. yielding a profit, and 2. promoting or contributing to personal or social well-being. Profitable connections can be one or the other or both! contributing to both your personal AND professional health, wealth, and happiness!

Sandy's Top 5 Tips on Networking & Connecting:

TIP 1: Successful Networking Starts with You

What do you think of when you hear the word: "Networking"? What has your experience been, if any, with a "networking" event? The first thought may be a chamber of commerce mixer, or a networking session following a conference, or now, since the Covid-19 pandemic, you may have heard of virtual "speed networking" events.

What would you consider a "successful" networking experience? Is it to exchange as many business cards as you can as fast as you can? or do you prefer exchanging less business cards and gain more conversations that will lead to a relationship, not just a card swap?

If you prefer the latter, here's what I suggest for longer lasting benefits. Begin with a little self-evaluation and appreciation for who you are: your unique personality, your strengths, your mission, your goals, what you really want to accomplish, and what you are honestly looking to achieve through new connections. Appreciate the talents God has gifted you with and consider how you want to help others or pay forward with your talent. Be generous and your generosity will come back to you - in mysterious and amazing ways!

In a public networking setting, such as a business mixer or network event, intentions are just as revealing, as well described in this Forbes Article by Andrew Vest (July 28, 2014):

" I've seen people walk out with a handful of business cards feeling happy, inspired and excited. The major difference between these two groups of people is this: the people who leave on a high note are those who attend with just one goal in mind -- to figure out how they can help others in the room.

True networking occurs when there’s an understanding that everyone in the room has equal value. In its purest form, it’s about people enjoying other people, communicating passions and connecting with others who share those passions. It’s about listening, figuring out what others need and connecting them with people you think can help. The most successful networkers build genuine relationships and give more than they receive. They go beyond thinking, “What’s in it for me?” to ask “How can I help?”

Tamara Lowe, known as The Success Strategist to Superstars, who has trained more than 4,000,000 people in 75 nations, and has worked with public figures and celebrities including George Foreman, Dr. Billy Graham, Margaret Thatcher, Mother Teresa, and Colin Powell among many many others stresses the importance of creating relationships with your customers.

"Relationship is all about communication and communication is all about contact."
"Contact, leads to communication, which leads to relationship."
~ Tamara Lowe

TIP 2: Make a List of Your Ideal Clients and Ideal Connections

Take a break and get out a clean blank sheet of paper and a pen. Consider where you are now with your business relationships and consider where you'd like to be in 5 to 10 years. Jot down your thoughts. Who may be an expert in the areas of where you are not? Who could benefit from your expertise? What are some ideal business friendships? (individuals, groups, organizations, corporations)

Take this time to dream a bit - allow yourself to think out of YOUR mind box, don't stop to overthink, give no time to question or judge. Now just let your pen go along with people and businesses that come to your mind. Don't dare stop - just keep going until your thoughts are exhausted, then put your pen down.

TIP 3: Learn About Your Ideal Client and Ideal Connections

Now it's your turn to seek to understand your ideal clients and ideal connections. You may learn more about them by visiting their website, find them in Linked In and/or Facebook, or learn what their interests are and which groups they belong to - you'll discover what you have in common and also what areas of specialty they have that you don't, which may be open up an opportunity to share knowledge and collaborate with one another.

Don't be creepy about it! Reach out to them! Introduce yourself and let them know why you would like to connect with them - and offer ways to connect with you.

TIP 4: Reach Out. Be Friendly. Be Authentic. Be Strategic.

Reach out to them, show interest in learning more about them, their business, how they started, their mission, their family if they'd like to share, and keep in mind this is about building a relationships - a mutually beneficial relationship - so explore ways that you may support one another.

TIP 5: Follow Up. Keep in Touch.

If it's a connection you really want to keep and grow with, add to your calendar a reminder to reach out to him/her in say a month or so.

Explore ways you can work together: collaborate, co-host events together, share referrals, do business with one another, support one another.