If you‟re asking yourself “Should I network?” the most fitting answer to this question is “Can you afford not to?” The business world is driven by relationships and the power of personal relationships is so great that it can mean the difference between winning over a new client, being chosen as the successful job candidate, or being introduced to people that can make a difference to your business. Think about the saying “It‟s not what you know, it‟s who you know”. Now think about your circle of friends. Why is it that you are friends with them? Why are you willing to help them at the drop of a hat? Who listens to their problems? Provides advice? Lends a sympathetic ear? You. Why? Because you know, like and trust your friend. And it‟s exactly the same in the business world where personal relationships are usually formed with people who know, like and trust one another – an essential component of sales and a main reason why business deals are successfully closed. And it‟s for this reason why so many business professionals rely on networking efforts to increase their personal relationships and ultimately boost their business. With the world getting tougher and business competition increasing you almost feel the need to reinvent yourself just to get noticed, not just once but continually. How do successful businesses remain successful? They make it their business to widen their spheres of influence for new contacts and relationships. Not just once, but time and time again.
Below are some ways to Network to achieve maximum success
Below are some ways to Network achieve maximum success
1.Asking the right questions: In speed networking you‟ll have a series of one-to-one mini meetings with the other attendees, which typically lasts between 3-4 minutes each. When you have found out what people do, make sure you ask interesting questions – not where they live or how they got to the event, but questions that will leave a lasting impression. Find out as much as you can about their business. Questions such as Who is your best client?” “What are your future goals for your business?” and possibly the most important question of all “How can I know if someone I meet or speak with would be a good prospect for you?” (i.e. What type of people are they looking to meet?) Nothing builds trust and credibility more with someone than referring business to them whenever possible. Plus the answers to your questions will ensure that you get all you need to determine how you can help this person (and will also mean you‟ll be remembered as someone that looks for opportunities to help others).
2.Learning to listen: When you‟ve asked your questions – listen. The key to successful networking is to listen, or better described by H Jackson Brown Jr: “Learn to listen; opportunity sometimes knocks very softly.” Good listening involves not just hearing what is being said, but understanding it and then translating this information into how you can relate to it. For example, someone may briefly mention they‟re thinking about exporting their product overseas and guess what? You are on good terms with a drop-shipping company. It‟s about spotting an opportunity for you to help someone (either via your contacts or what you know) and to look for ways in which you can work together. So rather than wonder how you can turn the conversation back to you, show an interest in what is being said by asking open-ended questions – the „whats‟ „whys‟ and „hows‟. Ask questions that will boost their confidence such as “What do you enjoy most about what you do?” You‟re giving them something very positive to associate with you and your conversation, making them feel special and important – a great start to building that all important rapport.
3.Unique Ways of Thinking: Have a long hard think about what you offer. Who are your customers? What do they like? Why would they need your service or product? Now think about how your business might be linked to other services or products. For example if you‟re a photographer specialising in weddings your customers will almost certainly be purchasing flowers for their big day, along with a cake, wedding attire, transport etc…So if you happen to meet a toastmaster at a networking event (or meet someone who offers any of these related or linked services, or indeed knows someone that offers them) you need to be liaising with them quite closely to determine if there is an opportunity to be mutual preferred partners. The idea being that you can refer your customers to your new contacts and vice versa.
4.Who Do You Know?: Networking is not about selling what you offer, but rather meeting new people and turning them into long term credible relationships in which to do business. It‟s not what you know – it‟s who you know, so before an event make a list of the types of affiliate relationships you would like to build. You may not meet that person directly but you may meet someone who can make an introduction to someone you‟d like to meet and do business with.
Start thinking about your wider network of contacts. Who do you know? What skills do they have? Who are they looking to meet? If you‟re not sure – ask them. If you need to, make a note of your close contacts, their skill- set and how they are looking to grow. You may be able to offer help to someone you meet at an event, by making an introduction to someone you know. Do this and both parties will have no qualms about recommending you to the people you want to meet. How you approach business networking can make all the difference to how successful you are at it. You‟ll find that before long opportunities seem to appear out of nowhere.
5.Come Equipped: Make sure you are well-equipped with plenty of business cards. The last think you want to happen is to run out of cards during an event and start fumbling about for scraps of paper to note down your details. Some people make a habit out of handing out two business cards to the people they meet – one for them and one to give away to someone they think would like it. This is a good idea in theory but it‟s wise to be selective about who you do this with – you don‟t want them thinking you‟re looking for a quick fix way of spreading the word about your business – through them.
6.Personal Presentation: The way you present yourself to others is deserving of some special attention to detail. So many people get this wrong and like body language, can send out the wrong signals – without you even realizing.