Networking is most useful when employed as a lifelong approach to your business, rather than a quick fix for it. Networking may not be the answer to your problem.
Successful networking is not easy for everyone. It’s a critical skill that must be learned one step at a time. In today’s economy, networking is an even more important marketing tool than it has ever been before.
“Business people often turn to networking at different times. Start ups will often network like crazy early on and established businesses will often start when traditional routes to market dry up. The thing they very often have in common is the idea that networking is the answer to their problem. The first and BIG mistake that many people make is they dive headlong into the activity of networking with a complete misunderstanding of what networking really is.” ~ Dave Clark, NRG-Networks.com
Seeing other people purely in terms of what they can do for you is the essence of shallow. It is not about you. You must recognize that networking is not a one-way street. Manipulating others for personal gain is the province of gold diggers and social climbers all over the world. Is that really how you want to be remembered? It will not always be clear how you and your contacts will mutually benefit each other.
Some business people attend group meetings (once) swapping business cards with everyone they can, broadcasting their message, chasing immediate transactions and moving on. They join online networks, put together a profile and broadcast some more. After a while this doesn’t work and many conclude that networking doesn’t work.
There are plenty of networking groups out there with experienced business people that will help you avoid the most common mistakes and make sure networking does work for you and your business.
Like anything worthwhile, networking takes time and application. You need to be committed to investing the time to develop relationships and create a network of advocates. You may not want to admit it, but you are probably getting lazy: showing up late, sitting and talking solely with friends, and not strategically making new contacts or setting meetings with potential clients and customers. However, using too much of your time in networking could take valuable time away from your business. Balance is the key.
In developing your network, it is vital to reach out to a wide variety of people. It is not always imperative to have a common interest. Many people limit their contacts to people working in the same field. That could be a mistake. They think that those outside the circle might not be able to offer any help anyway. Wrong! It is better to establish a network with people from different fields, different socio-economic background and even different countries. You never can tell what ideas you can exchange with people who are not familiar with your business but whose ideas you might adapt to your own business.
When asked “what do you do?” present your proposition confidently & consistently – your target market, the problems you solve and your stories. People do not buy what you do, they buy into why you do it. It’s your passion and enthusiasm that engages and not a clever 30-second connection.
Take the time to get to know the members and the ways you can help – support, information and introductions. Become an active listener and see how you can help the people you meet. Pay attention to what people are telling you or are talking about, and search for problems that you can help solve.
The purpose of networking is to spend time with other people, to get to know them, and to find out some information that can be followed up later on. Save the sales pitch for another time.
Just exchanging business cards is never enough.
Read: “What About Business Cards!”
Become an advocate for others first. Help others in whatever way you can with a valuable contact, a key networking event, or a worthwhile association. Often information we take for granted can be valuable to someone else.
Always pay it forward. In every encounter you have with another person at a networking event, always give more than you take!
Copyright © 2010 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.
Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationship BLOG” at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com/
Follow Larry’s “Wedding BLOG” at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Authors & Speakers” BLOG at: http://www.AuthorsandSpeakerNetwork.wordpress.com/