Networking HQ BLOG with Larry James

Monday, June 27, 2011

Networks that Fit

Filed under: Choosing a Group,Guest Author Articles — Larry James @ 7:00 am
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Andy Lopata, Guest Author

Networks, and networking, are thriving in these tough times. More than ever people recognise that they need to look to others for support if they are to achieve their career and business goals.

The ‘dog-eat-dog’ world of business painted by TV programs such as The Apprentice is not necessarily the way forward in business today. Instead businesses are more likely to achieve positive results through collaboration. Sharing experiences, expertise, ideas and contacts is essential to business success.

It’s great to see this growth in the popularity of networking. There is a danger as well, however. Many people still network because others suggest it and join those groups and online networks recommended by their friends. Such an approach can often lead to disappointment, as one person’s needs are different from another’s and not all networks cater for all requirements effectively.

Besides, if you don’t know what you want to achieve from your networks, you will struggle to achieve anywhere near the potential they offer.

In general people network for one, or a combination, of three reasons. We network to become:

• Better known (profile building)

• Better equipped (brain building)

• Better connected. (referral building)

If you understand how each of these areas are relevant to your business you can look to networking events and networks and ask how they can then help you overcome your challenges. Your networking strategy can then be built around your individual challenges and how each network might help you overcome them.

why_network_diagramDifferent people will join networks for different reasons. For example, for me LinkedIn is a referral-building network (helping me become better connected). Through the viral nature of retweets and the ability to educate my network about my business, Twitter helps me build my profile (becoming better known in the process); while Mastermind groups I join help me overcome my challenges (better equipped).

Someone else may use LinkedIn to raise their profile by contributing to discussions in groups, connecting more broadly and responding to questions, Twitter to learn more about their customers and marketplace by monitoring conversations around their brand or area of interest and join a network like BNI or BRX to generate referrals.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t get other benefits from each of the networks I join, but I do understand my primary reason for being there. Before joining any network, each of us needs to have a clear idea of what we want to achieve from membership, how that network can help to deliver that outcome and the commitment we need to make to the network to achieve the end result.

Better Known

If you join a network to become better known, understand where you want your profile to be strong and pick your networks accordingly. Are your potential clients based in a geographic area, within one or more industries? Do the people who decide to use your services tend to be from one or two key roles within organisations, such as Sales Directors or Heads of HR?

Wherever you need the word spread, understand who those people will be talking to, who influences them, where they are most likely to hear about you and network accordingly.

The growth of online networks has made it even easier to raise your profile and spread the word. Clearly, online networks are a much easier way to reach a wider audience and grow a global reputation, but there are also a large number of niche networks on the internet, serving different industries, interest groups and locations.

A word of warning here, it is one thing to spread the word about your business, online or off. It is quite another to manage what is being said about you. It is important that you have a clearly defined view of what your message is and what you want people to say about you before joining a network.

Managing the message that others communicate on your behalf is the key to developing a strong reputation networking strategy. Ask yourself the question before you connect with anyone else as part of your business strategy, ‘After someone has met me, how would I want them to describe me to someone else?’

Better Equipped

As John Donne said, ‘No Man is an Island’ and this is particularly true now. We need to learn from others, benefit from their experiences and expertise and open ourselves out to new ideas if we are to achieve as much as is possible.

Over the years I have learnt a lot and developed many skills through my networking activity. I have a network of people around me who I feel confident turning to and asking for advice. As a result I rarely have to face a challenge for the first time without any help from people who have been there before.

I’m not alone in experiencing such benefits from my networks. However, many of us tend to get such support almost by accident rather than design. What difference would it make to your business if you were surrounded by people who possessed the skills, expertise and experience you lack and who are willing to share those with you?

Professional associations, mastermind groups, industry networks and many small business networks all offer us access to peer groups, subject-matter experts and support that can make all the difference to our business. Build strong relationships with the people with whom you network and will be able to turn to them for help and advice as well as referrals.

If you don’t have the relevant experience in your immediate network, or if you don’t feel comfortable asking the question, there are many networks set up specifically to provide those resources. From the blogs and clubs on social networks to events with speakers, the support is there, you simply have to seek it out.

Better Connected

Many businesses think primarily of networking as a route to more sales. There is nothing wrong with that, almost all of the business that we generate comes through my networking activities. However, I don’t look to sell to my network.

This is an important distinction. Networking isn’t selling. Picture a typical networking event. How many people do you think have come there primarily to buy? And how many are there to sell?

Most people attend networking events (excluding those with a clearly stated alternative purpose) primarily to sell. But is there a worse place to sell than a room full of salesmen? A different approach will pay huge dividends.

Instead of looking at the people you meet as potential clients, look to develop a relationship with them. Yes, you can let people buy from you if they are interested, but wouldn’t you prefer them to refer you five times than buy from you once? After all, if they trust you and understand enough about your business to refer you, if they need your services personally where else will they turn?

You need to be patient if you are to build a referral network. People refer others who they know, like and trust and that doesn’t happen overnight. During tough times though, those referrals are invaluable, opening doors that have been slammed shut on other vendors and bringing your business to the top of the pile.

If you surround yourself with people who trust you and understanding how you help your clients, you can ask for the connections you need to drive your business forward in good times and bad.

To achieve such referrals, join networks where you can build strong relationships, develop trust and educate your connections about what you do and who you do it for. Look to see how the network will help you do just that and, again, what you have to commit to develop that trust and understanding.

It is great to see networking being embraced by so many businesses of varying sizes and in a wide range of industries, as well as by individuals looking to further their careers. A strategic approach to which networks they join and how they participate within those networks will have a huge impact on how sustainable the growth of network is, and just how successful those new networkers can be.

andynetHQ

Copyright © 2011 – Andy Lopata. Reprinted with permission. Labeled “Mr Network” by The Sun, Andy Lopata was called “one of Europe’s leading business networking strategists” by the Financial Times. The co-author of two books on networking, Andy is a featured columnist the US magazine “The National Networker,” as well as being regularly quoted in the national press. Previously, Andy was Managing Director of UK network Business Referral Exchange. Andy has since worked with companies from one-man bands to organisations such as NatWest Bank, Merrill Lynch and Mastercard to help them realise the full potential from their networking. He is a former vice-president of the Professional Speakers Association. Visit Andy’s Website and BLOG.

Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! Invite Larry James to speak to your group! 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/

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Straight to the Point!

Filed under: Networking — Larry James @ 7:00 am

What’s the point of networking?

In a word. . . “Relationships!”

Networking is your access to opportunity. Access comes through developing close, personal relationships with others. It’s constructing a network of support. Building alliances is important. If you neglect nurturing relationships you put your career plans in jeopardy.

“We can be walking encyclopedias of knowledge, and yet go to the grave with the music still within ourselves unless we ,aster the art of networking. With our changing values, shifting methods and increasing competition, we find networking far more important than ever before. We must circulate if we want to percolate and we must make contacts if we expect to make contracts.” ~ Cavett Robert

Now that you know the point of networking. . . What is networking?

netpuzzle• Networking is giving without expectation.
• Networking is helping you to fit the pieces of the relationship puzzle together in a healthy way!
• Networking is the ability to express appreciation by saying “Thank you!” for business leads from others.
• Networking is nurturing career and personal clarity.
• Networking is an ongoing relationship building process.
• Networking is being willing to set realistic, achievable networking goals.
• Networking is being committed to do whatever it takes to improving your business by achieving your goals.
• Networking is caring enough to do and be your very best.
• Networking is loving yourself enough to love and share with others.
• Networking is the ability to continually learn networking technique to make all your business dreams come true.
• Networking is connecting with others to help you get the job done in the most efficient and effective manner possible.
• Networking is developing the resources for future business leads by developing good business partnerships.
• Networking is connectivity in action.
• Networking is the art of developing business contacts and career visibility.
• Networking is getting together to get ahead.
• Networking helps forge relationships between businesses and creates a referral process in which both businesses and prospective clients can benefit and use with confidence.
• Networking is finding that friendly voice that will talk you through business concerns you may have.
• Networking is an organized method of designing links “from” people you know, connecting with the people they know, gaining and using an ever-expanding base of contacts to exchange information, advice, business contacts and support.

Networking is like fishing – How far are you willing to cast your net? Casting your net is a learned skill.

Network unto others as you would have them network unto you!

And. . . this is Networking in a nutshell:

Networking is. . . using your creative talents to help others achieve their goals as you cultivate a network of people strategically positioned to support you in your goals. . . expecting nothing in return! – Larry James

Networking can propel you far beyond “business as usual.”

netHQCopyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! Invite Larry James to speak to your group! 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, June 19, 2011

The 3 Tenets of Savvy Networking

Filed under: Networking Tip,Video — Larry James @ 7:00 am
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Susan RoAne, Guest Author

roane

Copyright 2010 – Susan RoAne – Reprinted with permission. Susan RoAne is a speaker and author who has worked trade shows, conventions, planes, and the bleachers at Wrigley Field, and taught others to do the same. Her latest book, How to Create Your Own Luck: The You Never Know Approach to Networking, Taking Chances, and Opening Yourself to Opportunity, is out and her other books include How to Work a Room and The Secrets of Savvy Networking. To learn more call 415-239-2224. For further information: www.SusanRoAne.com, or e-mail @: Susan@SusanRoAne.com

netHQLarry 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/

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bob Burg – Short Interview on Becoming a Better Receiver

Filed under: Networking Video,Video — Larry James @ 7:00 am
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bobburg

Copyright © 2011 – Bob Burg. Bob Burg is author of “Endless Referrals: Network Your Everyday Contacts Into Sales” and “Winning Without Intimidation: How to Master the Art of Positive Persuasion,” both with over 100,000 copies sold. His newest booklet is “The Successs Formula.” He also publishes a free weekly eZINE newsletter. Visit Bob’s BLOG.

netHQLarry 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

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Creative Ways to Self-Promote!

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

It’s no secret: to get ahead, (Get it? A head!) you have to self-promote. Everyone seems to have a different idea of what works when you are self-promoting. You sing the praises of your products to the consumer and boast of the superiority of your services to potential clients in order to stand out from the competition. . . and to self-promote!

The first rule of self-promotion is to be the best version of yourself and your business. Self-promotion that doesn’t follow this rule comes off as false, forced, and ultimately very forgettable. The key is to inform, not brag.

Self- promotion is the art of spreading creative ideas, new concepts, visions and getting people involved without boasting. It’s important to think about self-promoting as sharing – sharing ideas and information that your audience is interested in and that may help them to remember you when they are ready to utilize your product or services. Creating buzz around your ideas is essential.

Be sure to “weigh your words.” Zip your lip and think before you speak. You can’t unring a bell. Once your words or printed promotional pieces are out there – just one slip of the tongue – and it’s too late to take them back. Insincerity and inauthenticity casts a wide shadow. Bad marketing wastes a lot of time. Focus your message towards people who most need or want to hear it.

“It’s a commonly known phenomenon – when your name/company name appears in print and is being promoted by the press, its level of visibility and credibility rises exponentially.” ~ Sandy Spadaro

self-promotionI bought a video name tag to wear at networking events. It has 2 gigs of memory and has a slide show of some of the brides and grooms I have performed wedding ceremonies for, plus two short videos of me in action at a wedding. It gets a lot of attention and gives me the opportunity to give a few brief details of what I do.

“Create an ‘As Seen In’ section on your Website. Anytime you’re quoted or your business is mentioned in a semi-reputable news outlet, plaster their logo on your site. Anytime you receive an industry award, toss the group’s name or logo in that section, too.” ~ Chris Birk

selfpromotecartoonStart a BLOG. Churn out valuable content and network until your eyes bleed. Don’t make it a commercial about YOU. Have a clear vision about what your visitors want. Post valuable content of interest to those who may choose to eventually do business with you. Next, promote the heck out of your blog. Put the URL on everything you send out of your office, e.g., business cards, letterhead, flyers, etc. Let keywords link to other article as I have done in this article. Be a “Guest Author” on other people’s blogs.

One of the most effective ways to get the word out about you, your products, and your websites is through article marketing. It’s a simple concept. You write an interesting, useful article and get it published with a brief 2 or 3 line bio and a link back to your Website. Article marketing is a type of advertising in which businesses write short articles related to their respective industry. These articles are made available for distribution and publication and to Websites as great content. I’ve written more than 700 articles on topics that are relevant to what I do. They have been quoted in Cosmopolitan, Red Book, Modern Bride, Arizona Weddings and numerous other magazines and Websites. I don’t charge for a reprint of one of my articles. The publicity I receive is my payment.

raleighpinskey

Click the book cover for more info about my friend, Raleigh Pinskey’s, terrific book!

With the advent of Twitter and Facebook, self-promotion and “personal branding” has reached near obnoxious proportions. Since I’ve written 3 books about relationships, I Tweet only one relationship tip everyday like clockwork. These Tweets automatically are published to my more than 3,500 Facebook followers who then post them for their friends. I have 4 Blogs (see links below). All Blog articles are automatically posted on Facebook. Because of this my wedding Blog now receives over 200 hits “per day” – that’s about 6,000 new visitors each month.

NEVER send mass e-mail from a list you purchased from someone else. Start your own list. It must be permission based. If other words, they must sign up to receive your eZINE or online newsletter. People who subscribe to my “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE know that they will only receive one e-mail each month. My list now serves more than 8,700 people who are interested in relationships. You have every right to toot your own horn in your e-ZINE, as long as you don’t drown out the useful content your readers are looking for. Next, promote your eZINE.

CLoveLOGOI had several quality t-shirts printed (on the front and back) that promote my relationship Website. I wear them to jazz concerts and other events around Scottsdale. It says, “I (heart) CelebrateLove.com!” and features the CelebrateLove.com logo.

Self-promotion works and you have to work it – consistently!

netHQBONUS Articles: The Buzz on Being a Shameless NetShaker!
Networking: An Opportunity for Shameless Self-Promotion
It’s Really Okay to “Toot” Your Own Horn. . .
A Great Marketing Strategy – Article Submission
How to Promote Yourself Without Talking About Yourself

Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! Invite Larry James to speak to your group! 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/

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Attention Doesn’t Create Results – You Need Engagement Too!

Filed under: Follow Up,Guest Author Articles — Larry James @ 7:00 am
Tags:

Daniel Decker, Guest Author

Regardless of what type of business or organization you are in, you likely seek attention. You want people to take notice and to become aware of what it is you have to offer. That’s why you spend money on ads, Facebook promotions, mailers, postcards, or whatever it is that you do to try and raise your visibility.

It doesn’t matter if you are trying to generate traffic to a website or blog, get people to come for Sunday services or eat dinner at your restaurant… it’s all basically the same.

You’re doing what you can to be seen and heard in hopes they will respond (“they” being your potential customers or visitors).

But here’s where many fall short.

It’s one thing to generate traffic or to get seen, it’s something entirely different to get someone to take action.

Attention alone doesn’t create results (the kind of response you’re looking for). You need engagement too.

Let’s take the web as an example. It’s one thing to drive 1000 visitors to your site but it’s something totally different to get a large % of them to take action, once they are there, on what it is that you are trying to get them to do.

The golden nugget there is “take action.” Without action, visibility is relatively useless (unless you’re simply trying to pepper your potential audience with name recognition).

I see a lot of people focused on the front side of the equation, the visibility side, but I think we need to spend just as much… if not more time… on the engagement side. The, “What happens when we get their attention?” side.

questionsIt starts by asking questions. Are we offering them something compelling enough that makes them want to engage or are we simply tossing up more clutter into the world of 1000 messages screaming for attention each day? Is what we want them to do clearly understood? Are we providing them with a path (steps to take) or are we “assuming” they will understand? Are we trying to engage them or are we simply trying to push information on them? Are we being intentional and do we have a plan?

The questions go on but the point is this… if you want results, don’t just focus on getting someone to your front door. Balance that out with how you’re going to get them off the porch and to step inside… and then how will you get them to stay a while and/or come back again? Those things won’t happen unless you engage.

Why Engagement Matters More Than Numbers Online:

Does it matter that you have 200 or 20,000 followers/fans on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook?

Does it matter that 5 or 15,000 people subscribe to your blog RSS feed?

Does it matter that you have 18 or 50,000 subscribers to your email newsletter?

It only matters if those followers / subscribers are engaged.

Numbers alone don’t create response. Active, engaged participants do.

Don’t get fooled into the dangling carrot of simply chasing numbers for the perception of how numbers appear.

Numbers are indicators but only matter if you don’t forsake quality for quantity.

Be faithful with what you have. Focus on adding value. Pour into others. Nurture relationships. Look for ways to draw people into the conversation so they become a part of it.

Don’t shout through a megaphone, step into the crowd and engage others so that they will engage you in return.

danieldecker

Daniel Decker

Copyright © 2011 – Daniel Decker. Reprinted with permission. Daniel Decker is President of Higher Level Group, Inc., a strategic marketing and development firm that helps authors, professional speakers, and organizations who are doing good (making a positive difference in the world) to expand their influence. Visit Daniel’s Website.

netHQLarry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! Invite Larry James to speak to your group! 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/

Friday, June 3, 2011

Are You a Victim of Network Drive-bys?

Filed under: Choosing a Group,Networking,Networking Events — Larry James @ 7:00 am

Have you been assaulted by a business card bombardier who only wanted to sell you something? Attended one of those “grab and gab” and “tell and sell” rubber chicken so-called networking events where you left feeling violated?

Have you ever been violated by people claiming to be networking but are just out for themselves and what you can do for them? Networking sometimes gets a bad rap because of people like this. If you’ve been left with a bad taste in your mouth for networking and think it’s just for blood sucking shameless self-promoters perhaps we can share a few ideas that can put all that incorrect thinking in the garbage can where it belongs.

I have attended large networking events that the first two paragraphs of this article describe and walked away feeling like I had wasted my time. The losers are the ones who I do my best to ignore. It’s hard because most of them are in your face pitching their product or service. They have yet to learn that networking is not about “tell and sell.”

There’s also no such thing as a bad event. It is what you decide to make of it. Many times it’s not the networking event itself, but those people who have no clue on how to network. Your attitude is everything. You can always walk away feeling good that you attended if you put aside your expectations and go with the flow. Make the best of every meeting or event you attend.

Any event that has more that two life giving, cancer curing, weight losing, pyramid schemes pitching, morons complaining about the economy, time-wasters, multi-level marketing fruit juice true believers is probably going to be void of any meaningful intention to build business relationships. Plan to avoid these groups. Idiots attract other idiots, and winners attract other winners. You want to go to networking events hosted by winners. Never return to events where most attendees have what I call a seller’s mentality. These people couldn’t care less about what you do. They only care about making sales. Making sales is important, but taking the time to build mutually beneficial relationships is far better.

Look for a group the encourages people to mingle and share ideas; where members are encouraged to exchange business cards, exchange contact information and offer tips on potential business leads. In other words, sharing is the key word.

People make fantastic business contacts that advance their careers immeasurably at networking meetings and events. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s difficult to navigate around the losers that attend these events. Sadly many of these people have never been exposed to the intricacies of networking that pave the way to business success.

Here is the truth. You build business by building community. You build community by nurturing long-term business relationships and by surrounding yourself with the kind of people in your network that are of like mind; people who know the rules and who abide by them. Networking events require patience and perseverance and more patience. One of the most common mistakes people make is to go to a networking event and expect immediate results, that simply does not happen.

Networking is not an event. It is a process of building relationships. It is an exchange, not an exploitation you only use to YOUR advantage. Networking is at its most effective level when both the networkers benefit from the relationship. Once the relationship is solid, you gain the respect of others by exchanging quality business leads and offering your assistance to others in any way you can. After that, the referrals begin to flow – slow at first – but worth the wait.

exchangingbusinesscardsIt doesn’t matter how many business cards you pass out (or collect), if you do not focus on getting to know one another on a deeper level.

I share some of my most valuable secrets with others in my network once trust has been established. Many who know me will verify that. The better we know each other and trust one another, the easier it is to do business with each other, and a greater level of trust is but one of the goals. I have no secrets because I tend to be less concerned about competition than most people I know. There is enough business out there without living with the fear that someone else will get all the business if you share your assistance with others.

Networking, for most people, is not a natural skill. It can and must be learned.

Generating business through networking is only as good as the network you belong to. Look for a group that encourages you to attend periodic seminars where you can learn more about networking. Look for additional networking opportunities and educational training from other sources outside of your group that will assist you with cooking with Networking’s Secret Sauce. Scout around for networking events designed to connect savvy professionals seeking to build their networks and create opportunities.

A commitment to progress in learning networking skills is important. Most successful networkers are not born that way. They learn the skills of networking, because they know that the rewards will be increased business and connections that will help them build their business. The rewards for networking can be enormous.

If you continue to bounce around from group to group without at least learning the basics of networking. . . who’s the real loser in this situation?

If you have unrealistic expectations when attending a networking group or event, you will surely be disappointed. Unfulfilled expectations always cause problems.

It’s better to network with a clear head. Avoid alcohol. If you are going to drink – drink a soda and hold it in the hand that you don’t shake hands with. The condensation on the drink that you are holding causes your hands to be wet, cold and clammy when you are shaking people’s hands.

networkpuzzleI’ve actually heard people say, “I’m always nervous before I go to these things. I’m scared of approaching people, I’m scared of saying something dumb, I’m scared of sitting in the corner alone like a weirdo.” Here is another truth: You can’t act like a wallflower at a grade-school dance and expect to build relationships. You must get better acquainted with the people in your network.

So. . . who are the winners? They are the ones who fit the pieces of the networking puzzle together by getting up some courage, holding out their hand, saying “hello” and introducing themself to someone new. The winners for me are the ones who are still lingering for 20 to 30 minutes after the event ends. They are having meaningful conversations and some are expressing an intent to get together outside of the meeting to learn more about how they can help each other. They focus on being up-to-date with the latest networking strategies. They go out on a limb. They are willing to network out of their comfort zone.

BONUS Article: Think You Know HOW to Network?
How to Avoid Becoming a Networking Jerk
Don’t Be a Networking Jerk!

Larry’s note: A special “Thank you!” to Sarah Michell, CPS for sharing a few ideas for this article.

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Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! Invite Larry James to speak to your group! 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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