Networking is a key skill, especially when you work in sales. Whether you’re meeting over coffee with another promo pro or building relationships with prospects, when you prioritize regular networking, you can stay in the loop and maintain a competitive edge.

Katie Gabriel, a senior business development director for Salo, says all the tried-and-true networking advice is still effective. You should still listen and be curious, give a strong handshake and always be ready with a business card or promo. But to be a super connector, you have to be strategic about what you do before and after a networking event.

In this issue of PromoPro Daily, we share Gabriel’s tips on how anyone can strengthen their networking muscles and become a super connector.

  1. Block off time for networking. When your week gets busy, it’s easy for networking activities to drop off. Don’t let this happen. Instead, make time for it in your calendar. Gabriel recommends auditing your time and reviewing how much time you invest in developing your professional network each month. Don’t just focus solely on the work in front of you – look for opportunities to connect with other promo professionals and people outside the industry.
  2. Think more holistically. Networking isn’t just about finding new clients, so don’t think about it only from this perspective. Gabriel suggests thinking about networking as an always-on campaign. This will ensure you’ll have a network to tap into when your company is hiring or when you need a fresh viewpoint on a work challenge.
  3. Set yourself apart by following up. Once you’ve made a connection at a networking event, Gabriel says, follow-up is key to building that relationship. Meeting someone once typically isn’t enough to create a meaningful, lasting connection. By following up, you will be on the road to creating a partnership with your new contact. She suggests reaching out on LinkedIn within 48 hours after meeting a new professional.
  4. Nurture your connections. Remember that networking isn’t a one-and-done activity. It’s a future-forward mindset fueled by your intention to sustain a long-term relationship, Gabriel says. Look for ways to stay in touch with your connections. Try inviting them to a promo event or send them a link to a helpful PPAI Media article.

Even when your calendar feels totally booked, you should make time for networking. Remember to intentionally plan for it, always follow up and work on nurturing the connections you make. Taking these steps can make you a super connector with a robust professional network. 

Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Katie Gabriel is a senior business development director for Salo, a Korn Ferry company.