How Are Your Networking Skills?
By: Dave Baney
Networking can be one of the most influential strategies for growing your business over the long term.
However, itâ€™s not about selling. Itâ€™s about constructing an expanding set of contacts while gradually building genuine, mutually beneficial relationships with peopleâ€¦ with the goal being to expand your business while simultaneously helping others to advance theirs.
In these times of economic uncertainty and generation changes in business leadership, business networking is more important than ever. Consumers are much more selective in what they buy and how they prioritize their spending.
Every business owner needs to develop strong relationships with experienced people in their position who can guide them on necessary decisions in their business.
- Make an effort: Show interest and accept invitations to appropriate events. Arrive on time and connect with people while the event is in full swing. It is not about the food and beverages, it is about the people, so eat and drink either before the event or after, not during.
- Have a plan: Have a goal as to how many people you will meet and make new connections with. Try and focus on 3 or 4 solid connections rather than collecting hundreds of business cards.
- Listen first: Show respect by allowing others to make their point, express their views and opinions. Donâ€™t be too quick to respond and think through your answers carefully.
- Always ask questions: Constantly ask open ended questions to encourage conversation. Ask them â€œHow can I help you?â€ If there is an idea that you have been thinking about or a problem with your business feel free to ask, you will benefit from other peopleâ€™s expertise.
Once you have a proper business networking strategy in place you will make more valuable connections and have better results from the events you attend. The key is to search out the relevant events, target the people you need to build connections with and then aim to start a business relationship with them, not sell them something.
If you talk to any successful business owner, youâ€™ll find they have a nice network of people around them helping their business thrive.
No, those people arenâ€™t necessarily customers or clients. They might not ever use or need your services or products. However, they are in the range of guidance and influence.
What you also need to realize is that networking isnâ€™t about immediate gratificationâ€¦ it is all about building relationships. People do business with people they know, like, and trust.
Remember, itâ€™s always who you know (like and trust)!
Dave Baney is the CEO of 55 Questions, LLC, a certified Gazelles coaching firm. Hebrings over 30 years of Fortune 500 management and leadership experience to growing businesses nationwide through 55 Questions’ tools and processes. Known for crisp execution, marketing insight and thoughtful direction, he is now a trusted advisor for CEOs. Contact Dave directly: email@example.com.