Where does networking fall on your priority list? For some busy professionals, networking can start to take a backseat. There’s no doubt that managing a full schedule can be challenging, but networking is one of those things we don’t want to let slip off our radar. Whether you’re just getting into the industry and working to build your business, or you’re an experienced professional striving to maintain and grow the business you’ve built, networking is a powerful tool to expand our relationships. Let’s take a look at some of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to networking:
Every interaction matters.
Connections are valuable. Don’t write off any opportunity to connect with someone. You might not be in a networking-focused situation, or perhaps you don’t see what this person has to offer you, but these are not reasons to walk away from the opportunity to connect. You never know how relationships will develop, who will introduce you to who, or what you can learn. Sure, you might not get out to multiple networking events every week, but that doesn’t have to mean you don’t invest in your networking at all. When you start approaching all connections as valuable, that value often becomes much more evident.
You can say more with listening than with talking.
You might have the perfect elevator pitch and walk away from a conversation feeling like you’ve left just the right impression. Unfortunately, our perception isn’t the only one that matters here. How did the other person feel in the interaction? This is the real networking power. Of course, it’s important that you’re able to express yourself and talk about what you do, but think deeper about the message you want to convey here. You want the other person to see that you’re trustworthy, authentic, and personable. You want to put them at ease and make them feel valued. To do so, ensure you create space to listen. It’s simple, but that action of standing back and truly giving someone your full attention sends a clear message about who you are.
It’s not a numbers game.
Yes, a large network can be valuable. But numbers don’t necessarily reflect value. We want to continue expanding and making new connections, but not just on a surface level. The basic message here? Quality over quantity. Monitoring your LinkedIn connections or Facebook likes aren’t the best ways to gauge the strength of your network. Don’t confuse online connections for real connections. To have a powerful network, loan officers need to develop and maintain real relationships.
Generosity is a powerful tool.
Giving is at the foundation of great networking. As we mentioned above, giving space in the conversation is an important strategy for professionals to keep in mind. But we can take generosity much further than this. Approach your interactions thinking about what you have to offer. Is there someone you can connect this person with? An article you could share? Something interesting you’ve just learned that you can delve into? When we focus on giving to the people we connect with, we set the tone for the dynamic of the relationship more generally. We create a situation in which both parties want to help one another to thrive.
Where do you stand with your current networking efforts? Are you striving to grow and strengthen your network? Are you seeing the results you want? Are you actively maintaining your connections? These are all great questions for loan officers to ask themselves. What are your thoughts on networking as a loan officer? Please share them with us!
VP – Retail Market Leader