You have to show up! Some people think that they can be successful in networking by merely using social media and going to networking meetings and social events periodically. In reality, in order to be a truly effective networker, you have to SHOW UP, and show up consistently. Using social media to augment face to face networking is fine, but there is no substitute for showing up consistently. People tend to have short memories, and you will not be front of mind if your attendance at networking meetings is sporadic. There is a concept in psychology called Primacy and Recency. Simply stated, we often remember the first person we meet who does a particular thing like family law. If over time we meet a number of family law attorneys, and the first one we met no longer shows up, we tend to remember the one who we met most recently.
Therefore, it really helps to not only be the first person of a particular category, but also to be front of mind by continuing to show up. Social media and newsletters allow us to remain memorable in the absence of face to face encounters. So if we go on an extended vacation, we can remain front of mind through the use of social media and newsletters. It is the combination of face to face meetings and social media that enhance our visibility and memorability.
I have repeatedly observed people who join a networking group with good intentions, show up for awhile, and then their attendance lags. The people who become regular attendees are the ones who are remembered and who end up with the referrals and strategic introductions. Years ago someone said to me, “Everyone knows you and what you do. You don’t need to keep showing up.” The reality is that if you stop showing up, their memory will fade.
In order to be maximally effective in business networking, it is best to use a combination of in person networking and social media. Meeting in person allows you to make a live connection, and social media gives you the opportunity to widen your network geographically. Though social media has a number of very specific usages and benefits, in person networking (SHOWING UP) is the true constant in networking.
Beyond merely showing up, it is vital to get involved and volunteer to assume leadership positions if at all possible. People who volunteer raise their profile and get noticed. Additionally, by getting involved you provide a work sample and motivation to others to make referrals and introductions. There is no doubt that people who volunteer to join committees and boards of directors get more benefit than those who sit on the sidelines. Getting involved usually means that you are GIVING, and not merely sitting back and expecting to receive. People who not only get involved but give referrals, make introductions and provided trusted advice are the ones who receive benefits from the groups. Find ways to give, and you will most certainly receive.
In sum, networking is a long term process that involves building relationships over time. You have to show up, and show up consistently. The “in person” aspect should be augmented by a judicious use of social media. If you find ways to get involved and do what you say you are going to do, that is clearly one of the best ways to build a stellar reputation and derive maximum benefit from networking groups and professional associations. Don’t sit on the sidelines and let others do the heavy lifting. If you follow these words of advice, you will not only get huge benefits from networking, but also have a great time doing so.