The business networking tips and tools in the article below, written in January 2015, are as relevant today as they were then. The takeaway? That while some networking ‘tools’ have changed along with technological advancements, the basic concepts behind successful networking do not!
How To: Business networking done right!
It’s 2015 and as a New Year’s resolution you may have pledged to make networking a larger slice of your firm’s business development strategy pie!
The truth is that whether your business is the law, flower shop, limo company, IT recruiting or basically anything else (title insurance maybe), networking should have a prominent place in your strategic plan to drive revenue and forge new client relationships.
And as is the case in many endeavors, while there may not necessarily be any hard and fast rules on where and when to network, there are some basic guidelines for what to do and what not to do once you are there!
It needs to be remembered that in any relationship there has to be a degree of win-win for both parties involved or more likely than not it is not going to work!
After all a pure taker will of course always be at the ready to take but, at some point, the giver will tire of the fact that no thought is ever given towards reciprocation.
And from our perspective a ‘win’ for a new networking partner does not necessarily have to be immediate transactional business, but can be a warm introduction to businesses who need whatever it is that they do.
So here is my partial list of networking Do’s and, if there are any others you think should have made the list or disagree with those in the list, please let us know.
Also, if you have any networking success stories you would like to relate, please share those as well.
- Spend some time speaking with and learning about a new contact before you give them your business card,
- Actually engage with the people you meet without looking past them to find the next person to talk to,
- Use a firm handshake and make eye contact during an introduction,
- Actually listen to what a new contact has to say without focusing only on what you want to say next. You have two ears and one mouth so listen twice as much as you speak,
- If attending a trade show or an existing groups meeting do some research before getting there regarding people you may want to meet,
- Networking events are not the time for engaging in the hard sell,
- Although the person you are speaking with may not have synergies with your business, one of the keys to networking are the people who new contacts know that may be,
- By the same token while you may not be in a position to conduct business with a new networking contact, actually give some thought to contacts of yours who may be a good fit for them,
- Finally, networking and referrals do not always have to be business related.
As an example of the last bullet point, I received a call on December 30th from a local television station asking me if I was going to be participating again this year in the Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge New Year’s Day as I had done last year. My son and I had ‘plunged’ to help raise awareness for the Bone Marrow Registry.
While I was not, I have a business contact who was participating to help raise money for a local charity that houses and provides schooling for children who had to be removed from their homes. Was this going to generate new business for either of us?
No, but the more that we think about others the more that they will hopefully think about us as well.
The theory, as the BNI motto says, is that in the end givers gain!Google+