For as long as people have been engaged in commerce, there have been business relationships. Networking for many is a direct line to their success. Connecting with people brings with it many advantages, and it is still true that people do business with those they know, like, and trust. But the last year of social distancing has brought with it good and bad side effects to how people communicate and establish connections. Networking after the pandemic will be very important, and those who engage and can create win/win relationships will see the benefits for years to come.
Networking After the Pandemic
Below are 26 tips on how to be more successful with your networking. While these were true before the 2020 reset from COVID, they are even more true today.
A is for Attitude
Nothing can replace a positive attitude. When you enter into a new business relationship, have an upbeat outlook about that person and the possibilities how you can both benefit from the mutually beneficial connection. When you see the best in others, they tend to put more of that forward, and your attitude about seeing the other person and helping them will often be repaid.
B is for Brand
Coca-Cola has a brand. Nike has a brand. And YOU have a brand. Similar to your attitude, you brand in the business community is very important to the opportunities that will come your way. Cultivating your brand is about consistency. Your brand is a promise of what you will say and do in future situations. The actions you take daily will impact how others see you and what they expect.
C is for Creativity
Best-selling author Tom Peters said it best? “You are either distinct or you are extinct. If you want to stand out from your competition your creativity is the key. Stop doing everything the same way as others and create your own style of relating to people. When it comes to networking after the pandemic, sameness is invisible in a would where everyone is trying to be seen.
D is for Determination
Determination is an important part of the equation in creating a strong network. Real friendships and business connections that lead to success take time and effort. If you are easily annoyed or judgmental of others you will often not stick around long enough to get to know people well. You have to be focused on knowing that relationships are valuable, and don’t come easy.
E is for Evangelizing
If you want to stand out to others, sing their praises. Too often we go into “networking” hoping to make connections with others who will talk us up and help us expand our brand. We want several evangelists, but we do not lead by example and do the same for others. A great way to get noticed is to be the one who is sharing the good about others. Eventually those people (and others) will want to be in your world, so they will become your evangelists.
F is for Follow Up
Meeting someone once does not make them part of your network. Meeting someone once makes them someone you have met once. There is a big difference between a single meeting and a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship. To forge strong relationships you must own the follow up with the people you meet and cultivate the communication.
G is for Game Plan
If you want to achieve results, you need to know what success looks like. Many professionals go into “networking” activities without any plan of whom they should meet, why they are networking, and what results they expect. Creating a clear plan for success in building relationships makes a difference. Knowing the work you need to put into helping others, and defining what you expect from others is paramount to your networking success.
H is for Help
If you like the idea of other people referring your business and helping you find more success, you have to realize that “HELPING” is a two way street. Before you can expect others to refer you to clients, you need to lead by example. To often people want help, but are too busy to assist others. Why would anyone assist you if you are not serving others?
I is for Intensity
Regardless of your goals, success does not happen by accident. The people who are intensely committed to seem to win. Take charge. Focus. Plan. Network. Create value. Be driven.
J is for Journey
Your career is not about getting to a single end point. Your career is a journey and much of the best parts come along the way. Do not get lost in the “someday” dreams. Be in the present and enjoy the journey. While networking, be clear that some people you meet are just passing through your life, while others are the ones you will click with and create the long-term connections. Both are fine. Enjoy every part of the networking journey.
K is for Knowledge
Knowledge is not power, knowledge is potential. When you learn and gather knowledge it sets you up for new opportunities. You should always be learning. Leaders are readers. Most of the most successful executives I had met have a serious curiosity about a lot of things, and that allows them to participate in many different types of conversations when they meet people.
L is for Leading Edge
Are you on the front side of a trend or movement? When you are on the leading edge you will build a strong reputation. Following or being the same is not the way to stand out. When networking after the pandemic you will get more attention if you are out front and showing the way to others. People will follow when you are out front.
M is for Mega (NOT MAGA…lol)
Go big or go home. If you want to succeed with networking (or anything) you have to be all in for the whole thing. Go big. Being average will get you results, but not the giant results you may desire. Try to committed in the mega ways that will get you noticed.
N is for Name Recognition
If you are the best kept secret in your industry, you will lose. Cultivating a great reputation in your field will bring to you many more opportunities. Having name recognition in your business community means others will seek you out. People are your best asset, but they need to know you exist before they can help you.
O is for Others
Do unto others as you would have them do for you. Then do more. When you live in service, you will get more. Givers get. Zig Ziglar said it best; “You can have anything you want in this world, if you help others get what they want”. Do not keep score or have expectations. Just be there person who promotes others and you will find over the long run that it comes back to you.
P is for Persistence
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipresent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve problems for the human race” – Calvin Coolidge
Q is for Questions
Asking questions is an important part of networking and business development. And it is more important in networking after the pandemic. If you want to build real relationships you need to focus on the other people and learn as much about them as possible. Many of us like to talk, but asking questions and listening will take you farther than you can ever imagine.
R is for Respect
Saying “you need to treat others with respect” should go without saying. But too often we are all so busy with our own agendas that we forget that other people have their own “stuff” going one. Make an effort to let people know they matter and that you respect their point of view in the world.
S is for Sincerity
When building a professional network that will assist you in growing your career, you must have a true motivation. Too many we encounter are acting nice, but they have an agenda that is all about their own needs. When you look to build relationships you must be sincere in wanting a long-term and mutually-beneficial relationship. Too many people are “takers” and we are all sick of insincerity.
T is for Tenacity
If you want to succeed in business, you can never give up. There are countless examples of successful people who routinely faced hardship and other obstacles in their path to success. They did not roll over and quit. Tenacity when it comes to networking is realizing you wont create “uncommon connections” with everyone. Not all you encounter will like you. But you start over with new people. Eventually you will find your crew and more success will come your way because of those connections.
U is for Urgency
The best time to build your network is now. As we go toward networking after the pandemic people are hungry to make meaningful connections. Many are seeking new contacts with the hopes of rebooting their careers and other aspects of life. Since all opportunities come from people, now is the time to make, grow, and keep your business relationships.
V is for Vision
Whom do you want in your professional network? What type of people are you wishing you could associate with in your career? If you do not know the answers, you need to visualize the people who can help you (and whom you can help). Like a “vision board”, have a clear idea of who these people are, what they do for a living, and what you can do for each other. If you see a powerful network in your future, you will create it.
W is for Wisdom
“It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things” – Henry David Thoreau
Wisdom is more than knowledge, it is to objectively understand hat you have learned and let your actions be in line. When we are young, our enthusiasm and passion sometimes take control of our actions. This can lead to regrets. Youthful indiscretions are when we move in the heat of the moment. But with wisdom we think first. This matters when meeting new people and building the relationships.
X is for eXtra
When looking to build a professional network, go beyond what others expect from you. To create “uncommon connections” your actions need to be uncommon. Help others whenever you can. Ask questions so you understand what people need, and then be a conduit to help them achieve their goals.
Y is for Yearning
If you are not yearning to build a network after the pandemic, you will not really take the actions needed. People can be a big pain in the ass. Thus it takes effort to cultivate relationships and weed through the jerks and those whom you do not share similar values. If connecting with people is not a calling from inside you, you will probably not do what it takes to be one who gets the rewards from networking.
Z is the End
What? There is no end to networking. Get back out there. After a year of social distancing, now is the time to get active with networking after the pandemic. Your chance to shine with people has never been greater than it is right now. People need you. Go be part of their orbit.
About Thom Singer
After a successful career in sales and marketing, Thom Singer became a growth leadership speaker in 2009. A decade later he has brought his high energy presentations and action-oriented content to over 900 audiences. Thom knows that as the speaker or master of ceremonies he has a responsibility to set the tone for a strong conference attendee experience. Known as “The Conference Catalyst” he creates an atmosphere of fun and interaction that lasts beyond his presentation.
Thom earned his Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) in 2014 and is committed to the business of meetings. He is the author of 12 books and is the host of the popular “Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do” podcast. On his show he has interviewed over 400 entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, business leaders and others with a focus on discovering how the most successful people get farther across the gap between potential and results.
At 50 years old Thom decided to reinvent his life and make age 50 to 75 the best years of his life. This meant saying yes to things that scared him, and trying new things. Since that time Thom has jumped off buildings, took up running (and lost 30 lbs) and began performing stand up comedy.