Posted on 01 December 2009 by Rodney
By Leslie Taylor
Social Networks like Linked In, Facebook, and MySpace are having explosive growth in the number of people who are starting to network “online”. Folks who have been laid off from a job are joining job finding networks (in person and online). More and more business people are participating in networking groups and attending networking events.
Networking can be a powerful and effective way to leverage your time and grow your business.
Here are a few ideas that can change time “spent” to time “invested” in your networking pursuits.
~ Be able to describe your business in one or two sentences. That way you do not monopolize the conversation talking about every detail of your business. A simple formula for this would be: We do AAA for BBB so that they can CCC (AAA being what you do, BBB being a description of those your business helps out, and CCC being what they were able to do – in their words – after doing business with you.) If you can give a brief example in a story form it may prompt them to think of someone that they know (or may talk with tomorrow or next week) that may be able to benefit from working with you. Use the words that THEY would use rather than your industry jargon. The KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) principle really applies here!
~ Networking does not equal selling. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines networking as “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business”. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary also defines selling as “to make or attempt to make sales.”
If you meet someone at a networking event that is a prospect, ask them if you can contact them later to discuss business. Remember, they too came to meet new people, not have their time monopolized by someone. Most people do not “get married on the first date.”
~ A good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses each proportionally. Ask questions and get to know the other person. Listening is a skill to be cultivated. We get so busy delivering our message we fail to hear the other person. Actually listen and not merely wait for your turn to talk. Once you know more about the other person, it’s much easier to solve one of their problems or ease one of their concerns. It will give you the opportunity to connect people at some point in the future.
~ Build trust into every relationship you are creating in your network. Follow up in a timely manner. Do what you say you’re going to do. Be mindful of other people’s time. Stephen M R Covey wrote an excellent book on this topic titled The Speed of Trust.
Each person you meet will inevitably come in contact with other people you will never meet. Even those who seem unlikely prospects may be able to introduce you to others if you get to know one another well enough (cultivate a relationship) that they know you will preserve their reputation by providing quality products and service to others they refer you to.
Leslie Taylor is the Executive Director of BNI in Las Vegas and a contributing author to Wall Street Journal and NY Times bestseller, Masters of Networking, Building Relationships for the Pocketbook and the Soul. For almost 20 years she has helped business people in Las Vegas increase their business through networking.