Networking HQ BLOG with Larry James

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sell Yourself. . . NOT Your Services!

Filed under: Networking Tip,Self-Promotion — Larry James @ 7:00 am

Networking and selling do not mix. . . especially at the same networking event!

Someone once said, “Networking and selling are like oil and water. They both belong in your financial engine, but you must put them in separate containers.” Don’t know who said that, but they were very wise! You come across as self-serving and that’s not the way to network.

Tooting your own horn is the worst thing you can do in a social situation. Nobody but nobody likes to have services crammed down their throats.

The end game: While it’s true that most would agree that the end result of networking is to develop a relationship with someone you met and eventually someone makes a sale or gives you a lead or recommend you to their friends. The sale, leads and referrals almost always comes after the follow up and much after your first meeting.

“Selling to people who actually want to hear from you is more effective than interrupting strangers who don’t.” ~ Seth Godin

archlustbergThe only selling you should do at a networking event is to sell yourself. If you haven’t learn the skill of selling yourself well, then you are probably wasting your time at networking events. The idea of “selling yourself” essentially means “to convince others of your value and worth.” Knowing this should take some of the pressure off of those who act desperate and go on a rampage handing out business cards and collecting cards at networking events.

“There are 3 things that we all need to sell ourselves: 1. Competence, 2. Likability and 3. Luck. The first two almost always deliver the third. Having competence and likability isn’t enough. It’s your customers and clients perception that you’re competent and likeable that counts.” ~ Arch Lustberg, author of “How to Sell Yourself

Some define competence as: “the ability of people to perform work to a set standard.” To me competence means that if you judge yourself to be competent, you are probably already sold on yourself. You must be the number one person in your life. If you are not competent and lack confidence in yourself you better start there. Confidence is that one quality, that when embedded deep within, shines through for everyone to see.

Being sold on yourself is perhaps the first, and probably most important qualilty to successfully selling yourself to others. You better first believe in you before you can sell the idea to others.

There are endless opportunities in life where the key to success is the ability to sell yourself to others. Networking events should be at the tippy top of the list if you are a serious networker.

Another quality of selling yourself is authenticty. Networkers who shove business cards at strangers before they know whether they are even interested in them are not being authentic networkers. To the other person it comes across as being pushy. Pushy people often come across as dishonest or hustlers. STOP! What do you think about when I say hustlers?

lovemyselfTo be authentic or genuine is conforming to fact and therefore worthy of trust. You must first build the relationship before trust is possible.

Be creative and think of new ways to present your key qualities to others. Always be honest. Bragging about yourself will not help you sell yourself. In fact, it will hurt you. Overdoing it, and you’re a grandstander. That’s another “no-no” in networking. Instead, analyze your strengths and offer helpful information about your accomplishments by weaving anecdotes – that include others besides yourself – into the conversation. Be conversational. Resist the urge to sell. Put your best foot forward but make sure it’s connected to the “real” you!

You must have confidence in your abilities as a networker. Maintaining a high level of integrity and a high quality of networking skills will help keep you self-assured. Don’t know where to begin? Either pray for guidance or do yourself a favor and hire a networking coach!

“There is a big difference between promoting and networking. Going to an event to hand out business cards and talk about your business is called promoting. Going to an event to meet interesting individuals that you can form an alliance with, is called networking. The easiest way to know that you found someone you can work with is to ask yourself if you like this person. You are only going to do business with someone you know, like and trust… so if you are not clicking with someone… it’s OK. Just move on. There are plenty of people out there that you’ll be able to click with and build a successful relationship.” ~ Gelie Akhenblit, Founder of Networking Phoenix

Upon meeting someone new, and after finding out what they do, I will ask them, “How can I help you?” That often throws them for a loop because it is so unexpected and unlike the others they have just met. It’s an important question. If asked with sincerity, it can fast forward nearly any relationship.

We are all selling something. Some sell their partner on being in a relationship with them. Parents sell the idea of behavior and consequences to their children. Your teen will sell you on the idea of using the family car for their first date. Others sell themselves on whether to buy this or that. When interviewing for a job, you better be real good at selling yourself if you want the position. It’s important to focus on selling yourself by demonstrating your self worth. It’s the best way to build trust and respect which will help you build a great reputation.

netHQ

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!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

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.

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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
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Friday, September 24, 2010

Confused? What’s the Most Important Thing to Do?

Filed under: Networking Article,Networking Tip — Larry James @ 7:00 am

Ever felt unsure of what to say or do at a networking event? Confused about what the most important thing to do? Not really sure why you’re there or whether you should just watch and see what others do? Unsure if the people you meet will like you and remember you? Feel out of place in public?

businessquestionsIs social networking on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others more or less important than face-to-face networking at an event? Should you BLOG or write articles about the type of business you have for other Websites?

Something important to remember about Social Networking: “When you land on social media pretending to be God’s gift to the Internet you turn everyone off and assure they’re not listening to you.”

There is probably more confusion about social networking and how to use it rather than attending networking groups and events. The interesting thing is that it all works. Some better than others.

confusedWhat to do? There are so many choices and so little time.

Here is what works for me. I have found that Blogging about several topics has been useful to me. You will see a list of 3 other BLOGS that I write for at the end of this article. Something new is posted on each BLOG every 4th day. Each BLOG post is automatically posted on Facebook and Twitter.

I also use Facebook (as of today – nearly 3,000 friends) and Twitter. I post one “relationship” Tweet each day. It doesn’t take long to write 140 characters. I have 5 Websites and add new content at least once each week.

I attend business networking groups (the small groups work better for me) and also an ocassional large networking event. I belong to and attend regularly several associations that are related to my work. I am invited to speak on personal relationships and business networking. I’ve written 5 books and am working on another one. I stay busy and I LOVE what I do. Loving your life’s work is key. There is a sign in my office that says, “If it feels like work, you must be doing something wrong!”

Sometimes you have to test the water to see what works best for you.

Here is a clue. . . do what brings you the highest return on your investment of time. No excuses!

“I just don’t have time!” Oh, really? People who say things like that most likely have not learned how to set priorities.

netHQ

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!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

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.

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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/

Monday, September 20, 2010

Referrals vs. Recommendations

Filed under: Networking Article,Networking Tip — Larry James @ 7:00 am

There is a big difference between giving someone a referral (lead) and offering a recommendation. It’s important to understand the difference in the quality of each action. It has been my experience that most referrals and recommendations take place in smaller networking groups with 20 to 40 members. These members have taken the time to get to know each other on a personal level. They ultimately learn to like and trust each other and do business together. No relationship. . . no referrals OR recommendations.

referralsThey focus on making sure that instead of just handing out a dozen cold referrals (non-qualified leads) that anyone could find for themselves, they qualifiy the referral to be sure that when the person they give it to calls the party referred they will expect the call and be receptive to talking further. I will often give the referral to someone then call the person I referred and let them know who will or may call. That’s a qualified referral. They can save everyone a lot of wasted time when you pre-qualifiy each lead you give, then follow up.

A non-qualified referral is just a cold call with a name attached to it. Most go nowhere. Many networkers will give you a name and number but the they never tell the referral that you will be calling or ever check to see if they are even interested in what your business does. Those kind of referrals give you a bad reputation.

My hope is to develop a network of business owners and professionals that not only use my business but also recommend me to their inner circle. Giving qualified referrals is the key. Your networking pals will like you and trust you more and are more likely to reciprocate.

When you network, you need to be looking for two things:

1. Qualified referrals for others. (It’s the difference between hot leads and cold leads.)
2. Ways to connect the people you trust and do business with to others (people to recommend to others). This would be a personal contact from my group of networkers. Some call this “human-equity” or “social capital” that you share with others.

recommendationYour personal goal should be to help increase the level of networking where networkers actually gain business connections (recommendations) and pre-qualified referrals, not cold call referrals. Spend time learning about each other’s businesses. That’s the professional way. It’s also a faster way to build quality relationships as you build your business.

“Follow up must be timely, relevant and real. There’s a person of my acquaintance who shares leads and referrals that are what we call ‘dead leads/rusted referrals’ who inspired that “secret” in all my books. Perhaps I was too subtle. So, I will gladly repeat, reframe and reiterate: Timely referrals are gold. If you’re going to tell someone about a job lead, be sure it exists. If you’re going to share the name of an agent, be sure that person is still in business and taking on new clients. If you’re referring someone for a media interview, be sure that there’s a “fit”. You get the drift?” ~ Susan Roane, The Mingling Maven

Take caution that you like and trust those that you offer as recommendations as they become a directly reflection of who you are and how you do business. When you make a recommendation you are giving that person or business a “thumbs up!”

Also follow up with the person you gave the referral or recommendation to to see if it worked out. I once gave a hot lead to someone and after following up I discovered that they had not bothered to call and after another week began to offer excuses that they had left messages, etc., with no return calls. After checking with the person I recommended, I found out that their phone is answered by a live person 24/7. Needless to say that person never received any referrals or recommendations from me to others.

Yes, it takes a little more time and effort to pre-qualify your leads but the results are worth it. Your business will certainly grow exponentially. The power of resourcing must be a model in your networking group, because together everyone achieves more.

Read:Be a Networking Power Connector!”

netHQ

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!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

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.

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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/

Thursday, September 16, 2010

If the Truth Hurts. . . Be Grateful

Filed under: Guest Author Articles,Networking Video — Larry James @ 7:00 am

My friend, Larry Winget, tells it like it is! Sometimes those of us who network regularly need a whack up side the head! Listen and learn.

He that won’t be counseled can’t be helped ~ Benjamin Franklin

netHQ

Copyright © 2010 – Larry Winget.

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!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

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.

letsbefriends2

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/

Sunday, September 12, 2010

How Fast Can You Get to the Phone?

Filed under: Networking,Networking Article,Networking Tip — Larry James @ 7:00 am

A lack of follow-up has been the doom of many salespeople. It is one of the biggest mistakes they can make. Follow up can be awkward if you don’t have a plan.

howfast“Follow up must be timely, relevant and real. There’s a person of my acquaintance who shares leads and referrals that are what we call ‘dead leads/rusted referrals’ who inspired that “secret” in my book. Perhaps I was too subtle. So, I will gladly repeat, reframe and reiterate: Timely referrals are gold. If you’re going to tell someone about a job lead, be sure it exists. If you’re going to share the name of an agent, be sure that person is still in business and taking on new clients. If you’re referring someone for a media interview, be sure that there’s a “fit”. You get the drift?” ~ Susan Roane, The Mingling Maven

Make business networking follow up a habit that you do quickly. Timely and consistent follow-up is the key to successful marketing provided you have truly connected with that person and not merely collected their business card. If a business card you have collected doesn’t belong to a prospective customer, referral source, or someone you can collaborate with. . . toss it. No need keeping the card of someone you don’t plan to follow up with.

Your assignment, if you decide to take it on, is to be in the process of building relationships with complementary businesses – businesses that you feel can mutually benefit each other when they work together – to increase your influence and position within a specific market or industry. Remember, the “secret sauce” of networking is building relationships. Relationships will naturally increase your influence, and influence creates opportunity and improved market position.

If someone is a potential referral source rather than a prospect for potential business, your best approach is to establish a reciprocal relationship. Always phone first to stimulate interest in working together. If they are not receptive, hang up, shout, “NEXT!” and move on.

Once you have engaged in conversation with a good potential contact – once you have created a positive first impression begin an interesting dialogue about various areas of common interest. Listen carefully for hints of ways you can work together. One objective of networking should be to plant seeds for future relationships and get togethers. Find a reason during the conversation to follow up. It’s always easier to make the follow up call if you know the other person is expecting it.

kidoncellWhen you find a way to connect them to a resource or contact in your network, speak up. Say something like, “I have a contact who may be able to help you with that. I’d be happy to call you with his information,” or “I can think of several reasons how we might be about to work together, I’ll give you a call to arrange a time to get together.”

The follow-up is where most individuals drop the ball. For many, follow up is the hardest part, since it involves real-world interaction with others. When the ball is dropped two things can happen:

1. You lose out on a opportunity to get connected to a whole different network of contacts, and

2. You can loose credibility by not following up when you have expressed an interest to be in touch.

Always remember, networking is about giving first and receiving second. Developing a long-term business relationship has a much better chance of happening when you reach out to collaborate rather than be in a rush to sell them your product or service, especially on your first meeting. That’s what networking jerks do. Continue to follow up with an occasional phone call to them and remain in contact as long as there is interest and commitment to do so. Continued interactions are necessary.

If it’s someone I want to follow up with, I make notes on the back of their business card to help me remember them. Note anything unusual about them or the work they do, any details or specifics that you might forget. Note also, right then and there, any ideas you have about follow up: the link you promised to send or the resource you want to pass along. When you call refer to something they said or to a common interest you discussed at your first meeting. Suggest ways you can work together.

I prefer calling first, never just dropping by because “you were in the neighborhood.” The truth is, almost any follow-up method will work if you use it well and consistently. The best method for you is whichever one you are most comfortable with and can do every time the need arises. Consistency is the key.

Follow up is not a numbers game. It is not necessary to spend time meeting scores of new people every year hoping that a handful of them will convert into good contacts. Be picky. Only follow up with those that you really connected with. Make sure the feeling is mutual.

netHQ

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!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

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.

letsbefriends2

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/

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Don’t Be a Networking Jerk!

Filed under: Networking,Networking Article,Networking Tip — Larry James @ 7:00 am

Here are a few DO NOT’s that may help keep you from being a networking jerk:

1. Observe yourself; don’t be pushy, demanding, or aggressive in any conversation. Don’t be emotional if there is a discussion about something that you are not particularly like. If you feel that you are getting emotional with the subject, leave the conversation politely.

networkjerk2. Do not lie or exaggerate ever.

3. Never interrupt other people at all if possible. Give people space.

4. Do not look away when speaking to someone.

5. Don’t sound like an Interrogator when asking questions

6. Don’t talk bad about others.

7. Don’t give a sales pitch as soon as you meet someone.

8. Don’t be the main talker -give every one time to them.

9. Don’t talk just to talk. If there is no connection politely excuse yourself and use that time to meet other people who you may connect with you better.

10. Don’t get intoxicated with alcohol or anything else.

11. Don’t go to an event tired or lethargic. Don’t have heavy meals that drains your energy and keep you lethargic, preferably eat high energy foods.

12. Don’t keep score. If your interactions are ruled by generosity, your rewards will follow suit.

To build a powerful web of genuine, mutually beneficial relationships, you must truly care about making others successful. You have to give your talents, give your contacts, and give your hard work to help others get what they want — without keeping score. ~ Keith Ferrazzi, (From Networking Secret #9: Be a Conference Commando)

13. Don’t sell! Don’t sell! Don’t sell! Got it! First of all it’s annoying! NEVER try to sell someone on your services or push your own agenda the first time you meet them. Relationships first, selling is a distant second.

“Selling to people who actually want to hear from you is more effective than interrupting strangers who don’t.” ~ Seth Godin

14. Don’t gossip! It won’t do you any good in the long run.

15. Don’t talk about your competition except in positive ways.

16. Don’t come to a networking empty-handed. Be prepared to be generous with your time, ideas, and spirit.

17. Don’t name drop. It’s a quick way for others to lose respect for you.

18. Don’t brag. If you want to share good news with your close friends and family, this is one thing. To share this same news with those you network with has the potential to be misinterpreted to have a negative impression. Just because you think you’re awesome doesn’t mean everyone else will.

19. Don’t shower the room with your business cards. It come across as pushy. Not everyone connects with what you do. Only give them to people who ask for them. Be present to the conversation before reaching into your pocket or purse to shove your card at someone.

20. Don’t say stupid things. Think before you speak. You cannot un-ring a bell.

Networking jerks are known to have bad breath, chew gum or have their mouth full of food while talking to you.

Jerks get noticed, however the kind of attention they get is never good for business. Be heard, but don’t be a networking jerk. Jerks are lousy networkers. They suck! You can achieve more by sucking less.

NOTE: Thank you to Damayanthi Jayasinghe for sharing the 1st 11 don’ts!

netHQ

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!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

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.

letsbefriends2

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/

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Networking’s Secret Sauce

Filed under: Networking,Networking Article,Networking Tip — Larry James @ 7:00 am

An effective and inexpensive marketing tool that has been around for decades is networking. Do we have the skills to network effectively? Not everyone knows the “right” way to network which is the purpose of this BLOG. Networking events rarely ever get boring when you mix together all the ingredients of the secret sauce.

thesecretsauceSo what’s the secret sauce for social networking success by businesses? There are lots of ingredients to throw into the mix. Here are a few to consider that truly make networking work.

Be Empathic. Empathy which literally translates as in feeling, is the capability to share another being’s emotions and feelings. It is the ability to put oneself into the mental shoes of another person to understand their emotions and feelings. Empathy is about spontaneously and naturally tuning into the other person’s thoughts and feelings, whatever they might be.

Take baby steps at first. Connect to people you already know well. Be patient and persistent. Take the time to look up old contacts. When you add one contact to your network you have the possibility of networking with the important people that they know. The best meetings for networking are the ones your clients and referral sources go to. Develop an inexhaustible determination to learn as much as you can about business networking and do it consistently! if you need to. . . call a coach.

Develop your network before you need it. Harvey Mackay once said, “Dig a well before you’re thirsty.” Be willing to share and connect, but only once you know someone’s intentions. Once you have an established, genuine relationship with someone, help them to dig their own well too.

Be who you really are! Be real. Be yourself. People will respect that and it will allow you to grow your network more quickly because you’ll be more comfortable. People buy people. They will be the ones who will do business with you (in the future) when they know your best foot forward is connected to the real you.

Gratitude. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Be grateful when someone offers to help you connect with someone else or gives you a business lead.

Resist the urge to sell at a network event. Just network. No squeeze plays! Sales are made on the back end. Rarely ever on the first meeting, especially at a large networking event. The majority of people who don’t know any better than to try to sell have failed miserably in closing and seem to wonder why. Those who continue to try and make this happen come to the conclusion that networking simply doesn’t work.

Stay Focused. Why are you networking and who do you want to meet? You better know this before you attend a networking event otherwise your results will be scattered and disappointing.

Ask lots of questions and “really” listen to the answers. It’s true that the person asking the questions is in control of the conversation. I’m not talking about manipulation. I’m talking about digging for the information you need to determine if the person you are talking with is someone you want to continue to build a relationship with. It is the conversation that helps you understand the other person, their interests, and challenges. Often information we take for granted can be valuable to someone else in our network. Master the art of “small talk” and talk and listen in equal measure! One of the best questions to ask is, “How can I help you?” Make sure you focus on the other person.

Give up being shy. You are only shy because you THINK you are. Break out of you box. There is no room for shyness in networking. Put yourself out there. It’ll give your networking some teeth. Networking does not have to be something you dread. If you shudder just thinking about it, I challenge you to start networking as soon as possible. Pick a small event where you know most of the people and feel relatively comfortable. Make a firm commitment to yourself that you are going to overcome shyness no matter what it takes.

Face-to-face networking. Is a Social Media friend really a friend? Can you really develop the kind of relationship that you can when you meet someone at a networking event? I think not. Face to face networking is an inexpensive way to meet new people. It’s also the best way. Social networking via the internet, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace, seem to be the latest craze. I use them too, but each for different reasons. Time and time again, face to face networking has been more successful in bringing together many new contacts and business opportunities for professionals in all kinds of businesses. You need a real-time face-to-face presence which makes it more likely to receive tangible results from your connections.

Make time to meet new people each week. When you meet a new contact, take your time getting to know them. Building relationships take time. Fast friendships usually fizzle out.

Give more than you take! Help others in whatever way you can with a valuable contact, a key networking event, or a worthwhile association. Give without any expectation. Offer to help others. It proves you’re a team member and you are in it for the long-term. Networking is not just about getting “leads,” it’s also about helping others.

nettoolsPlace quality over quantity. Put your emphasis on the quality of the referral and not the quantity. Ultimately, you want to give high quality referrals. You’ll know when lead/referrals are quality ones because everyone involved will be sharing resources, good information, and adding ideas.

Overcome reluctance to “ask a stranger” for help. When I attend a networking event, I always ask the leader of the group for introductions to people who they know that might be someone I need to know. After the introduction, if we both feel comfortable with each other, I may ask for help. Or, I may choose to meet with them again outside of the meeting to become more familiar with their work to see if we can mutually help each other.

Volunteer. If possible, volunteer to work the sign-in or registration table. Everyone attending the event will probably sign-in, collect a name tag, etc., so you will get a chance to see who’s attending and speak with them for a moment or two.

Reciprocity is important. Not always possible, but important to at least do your best to reciprocate if someone offers a business lead, suggestion or tip.

Relationship building. It takes time to build trust and rapport and earn referrals. Lots of time. This may be the thing that finally teaches you patience. When you first start networking it feels like all your doing is planting seeds. Always remember to go back and water them. Remember the best networkers focus on building relationships. This means you have to make time to connect and engage in order to reap your rewards. Allow time for the membership in your networking group to get to know you.

Accountability. Be accountable for your actions. Study networking. Watch how others network. I’m convinced most people haven’t developed the right skills for networking. Be sure you have learned the collaborative etiquette of networking!

Be a connector! Connectors collect people. Not literally, but they enjoy meeting and learning about people. Connectors like to introduce people who they think will benefit from meeting each other.

Be selective about the networking groups you attend. For some people networking events are like fishing ponds. They go there to fling the proverbial business card in your face and collect business cards and try to hawk their wares. They are all about themselves. Not good. It pays to be very selective where you network. Attend the ones with a high probability of “face time” with individuals who should know about your potential value to them. Groups should fit your personality. My main networking is done through groups whose meetings are roughly 50% social and 50% business. They seem to be the groups where you get more return on your investment (ROI) of time spent networking. Your return on investment is a meaningful dialogue that creates measurable value. The tribe you select will have a profound impact on your work and life, so choose well. Don’t spread yourself too thin. A rookie mistake is to try and join too many groups.

Work the room and get to know the movers and shakers. What does that mean? Just what it says. Mingle efficiently and be politely inquisitive. Start and maintain meaningful conversations. Be sure your body language sends the signal that you are approachable.

Collaboration is an absolute must! None of us can succeed on our own. Collaboration is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together with common goals – for example, an intellectual endeavor that is creative in nature – by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus with one another.

Bring your business cards. I once ran out of business cards at an event and decided to leave. On the way out, I ran into someone who I thought might be a good contact. We had brief conversation and she gave me her business card. I reached for my money clip and gave her a $1 dollar bill with my Website stamped in red ink on the border. She still talks about this whenever I see her again. Never run out! I have my business cards everywhere; in my wallet, in my planner, in my car, in my computer bag, and my briefcase. SideNote: One year as I gave out candy to kids on Halloween, I tossed a business card in their sack. 😉

Follow-up. Get the business card of everyone you met who you feel will be a good contact for you and immediately write three things on the back: 1. The date, 2. The place, and 3. What you talked about. As you leave the meeting, send a text message to the people you met, saying how nice it was to see them. Follow-up with a “glad to meet you” email, and point them to a link of useful information. Make it worthwhile for the other person to stay in touch with you. The best time to be in contact is when you don’t need anything. Build rapport by sending a short e-mail or calling to say “hello” every so often. Let them know you have no agenda. This will keep your name at the top of their list should they have a business opportunity. The rewards may not be immediately apparent, but patience and persistence eventually pay off.

Smile. Wear a happy face. People like to associate with people who have a cheery attitude. If you’ve had a bad day. . . don’t tell your face! 😉

Become an expert at networking. Networking is a “learned” skill. It’s not something you get right the first time you do it. No one gets a free pass. Everyone has to put the “work” in networking in order to get positive results. Observe. Attend several networking events as an observer. Watch the pros at work. Read all of the networking articles on this BLOG.

YOU! What you bring to the table is an important ingredient to effective business networking. Think you know how to network? Your attitude plays an important role.

Be quietly compelling! Know your stuff. Speak it well. Plan your introduction to others so that it raises their curiosity about who you are and what you do and how you might be able to help them. Polish your “elevator speech” – your 30-second connection – a summary of what you do-in clear, compelling words that attract attention, pique curiosity, and create a strong and positive statement of who you are. Elevator speeches are NOT supposed to be sales pitches!

Another of the secret ingredients to long-term networking is not figuring out what works – it’s figuring out how to keep things working when conditions change. . . like the economy. If you are being hammered by your competition and you feel powerless to stop a change that’s working against you, perhaps it’s time to think “outside of the box” and organize a small group with others who can sit with you and be a resource of ideas and moral support.

The “Secret Sauce” of networking is that special “something ” that separates the casual networker from the networking pro. What is the secret sauce?

The secret sauce or the most important ingredient in business networking is building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships!

Now. . . put these ingredients into your networking pot and get ready for something EXTRAordinary!

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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!”

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