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How to Make Networking Work

By Michael Zipursky

Networking is important. It helps you build business relationships. It helps you make sales. And it creates connections with people that can play a big role in your success.

I know, I know. Business networking isn’t ‘easy’…

  • Networking does take time.
  • You have to be proactive and talk to people.
  • You don’t get ‘paid’ for your time.

To be great at networking you need 3 things:

1. A Plan – decide which events you will attend, make a note of when they will be and be sure to register if registration is required.

2. Your Pitch – heard the term “elevator pitch” before? This is where you use it the most. You need to distil the essence of what you do, what makes you memorable and what you stand for into a 20 or 30 second pitch. When people ask you, “What do you do?” You must be prepared with a response.

3. Motivation – this one might seem out of place. However, the reality is, if you’re not motivated and determined to attend networking events and go up to meet new people, networking will never WORK for you.

Making sure your pitch is on point
Let’s talk about #2 for a minute. If you’ve told people what you do, how can you know whether or not your pitch is on point?

This is the beauty of networking. Every time you meet someone new you can try a different pitch. What their eyes, their reaction. is it confused? Positive or negative?

You will quickly find out which pitch and angle gets the best results. Which one gets people responding with “that’s really cool” or “wow, so interesting” or “oh, I could really use your services.” The last one being the ultimate compliment =)

Hold the hard sell
If you’re planning on attending a networking event, striding through the door and hitting up every person you see with aggressive sales talk – don’t. That approach doesn’t work. It turns people off and does nothing to help you build a relationship with people.

Build, focus, don’t attack
Instead of coming off too strong, the approach you want is to come across as friendly, more interested in the person you are meeting than yourself. You should look for ways that you can help the person you meet – and not expect them to help you back. This attitude shines through and makes you seem like the kind of humble and confident person that others want to be around. This is what helps you build long-lasting and valuable relationships.

Too many people at networking events run around like chickens sans head. When they talk with you their eyes are darting all over the room watching others. That’s not only rude it’s a disastrous way to start a relationship. Be genuine and focus on one person at a time.

Take your networking to the next level
If you can find a way to get involved in the event that you’re attending as opposed to just ‘attending’ you’ll meet more of the ‘big fish’ and the influencers. This is also how you start to be known as an insider and authority.

13 thoughts on “How to Make Networking Work

  1. Excellent advice. I especially agree with “Build, focus, don’t attack” and “Take your networking to the next level”. With the last point of advice, this is why I got on the Board of Directors of a local Chamber of Commerce.

    I would also add “Have a goal” to the list. What are you trying to accomplish during the networking session? For example, my usual networking goal is to meet and exchange business cards with 2-3 people who I would be useful to, and who would be useful to me in some way. Specific, and very achievable every time!

    • Emerald Taylor says:

      I agree…. There has to be some type of gain there ” good gain of course” for you as well as the people you are exchanging cards with….

  2. Ettenna says:

    Thanks, I had to share this right away. Would also caution persons not to be overconfident and over promise.

  3. I was surprised that this post didn’t mention how business networking is mainly a waste of time unless you’re following up with the people that you meet in a timely manner. I’ve heard between 2 and 72 hours is all you have to get back in touch with whoever you’d like to maintain a relationship with. Many times, we’ll leave a 2 hour networking event, pumped that we met a lot of people, but if we don’t sit down and pick up the phone or send some emails out, its likely that all of those connections will go absolutely nowhere. The power is in the followup. Networking without following up is a waste of time. 🙂

    • Jessica – I can’t get everything in there all the time! Haha. Great point on the follow up, like in all marketing, it is key.

      • That’s true. I love the specific and targeted nature of your posts, though. I’m just being my normal squeaky-wheel self. 🙂

  4. Anonymous says:

    Networking does work. It can help grow a business in a shorter time than most people think.

    The key is have a plan and strategy for networking. Most people use it as an extended opportunity to sell – wrong choice. To develop a relationship one must start by being willing to help others first. This is sowing seeds. The great news… there is a harvest on the horizon.

  5. Great reading, thanks for shaing.

    I have found that the best approach that works for me is to ask people I met, “how would you describe the person you would like to meet at this function?” It really gets them interested in me as I have expressed interest in helping them.

    Have a fabulous weekend Michael.



    • Marco – that’s a great approach. Asking questions like that, that most people don’t ask, leaves a strong impression and makes you stand out. Nice one!

  6. winston says:

    I always ask the person what do you do for a living. Many of them say I am in business and I ask them to visit my site for free articles and give my business card. I never use the word “I” but use words like “You”, “Yours” “Your Family, Your Business” they are magic words………..for building trust and rapport…………winston.

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