The “nuances of networking” still elude many people who are unaware of the unwritten rules. The only thing that has changed in the past two decades is the exponential growth of technology and social media. But old rules still apply to the new mediums as well as face-to-face contacts.
What remains true to this day is that we must acknowledge when we are the recipients of support, referrals, information, and ideas that benefit us. The basics of business networking remain the same: make connections, listen well and follow up.
1. “No Selling” at Networking Meetings or Events ~ To me, this is the number one reason why many people who network fail. The truly successful networkers know this. Networking is about meeting people and cultivating close business relationships with them. Networking is not for people who want instant gratification. Networking will teach you patience. Networks are like any good investment. The great ones can have an extremely high ROI (return on investment), but not right away, and often not from the sources that one might expect. To build the kind of relationship that allows both parties to like and trust each other takes time. Attempting to sell at a networking meeting is a definite no-no!
2. Focus on Others ~ Make sure that when you meet someone it’s not all me, me, me! Ask questions about them instead of spilling all the beans about you and your business. Listening to the answers will lead you to the next questions. Questions that do not require a yes or no answer are best. That means you must quiz yourself – prior to meeting someone – about the type of questions you need to ask. Their answers will help you determine if they are someone you would like to include in your network. Before you ask anything of anyone, make it a point to help that person first.
3. Always Acknowledge Receipt of Referrals ~ Thank you, works well. Dropping a hand-written note of thanks works too. Perhaps the best thank you is to acknowledge the one who gave you a referral in front of your networking friends at a networking meeting.
4. Be Transparent ~ It means you have nothing to hide. Let them see what makes you special – what makes you authentic. It allows others to see who you really are. Reveal, in a nice and acceptable way, important things about yourself and your business. Show them – don’t just tell them. Let your personality shine. It means you share what is appropriate and engaging, share often, and always keep it professional. Be a great example. They need to get to know you – your likes and dislikes. The goal becomes how to be transparent while not being excessively personal. Be seen helping others. Have an open door policy to learn and teach. Always present yourself in an appealing and professional way. Transparency is a fundamental necessity of the most successful networkers.
5. Know when to Shut Up! ~ Give the person you are with your full attention. This ties in with #2 above… “Focus on others.” We have two ears and one mouth for a reason! Resist the urge to be compelled to constantly be talking. Approach your next conversations with others purposely. Exercise some self-awareness. Hear yourself when you talk. Are you pausing to take a breathe so others can say something? The person who talks the most learns the least. In short… when you see them losing interest… zip your lip!
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Networking Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. 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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