Networking is the art of making and using contacts. It can be as simple of starting a conversation with someone you just met.
The major aim of networking is to create a group of people that provide information that can positively impact on the growth of your company, making your competitors wonder how you sealed a deal they did not know was available.
Many business owners find it very uncomfortable to network because they think all that is involved is to give someone your business card and tell them about what your company does. They are also very fearful of rejection as a lot of people do not really want to be bothered.
See networking as a way of helping someone by giving them information they never knew existed and they helping you in return by making use of the information you have given to them.
As a sales person, I am sure that you must have noticed the importance of having and maintaining a pool of contacts which brings about referrals and exposure to vital information.
Also, for people that are not into sales, networking is still important. It can get you that career move you have always desired, invited to social gatherings you could never have been invited to, approvals and referrals.
There are two major goals you should have in mind when you network:
• Get to know as many people as possible, and
• Get them to know you.
Follow these four steps to make your networking work:
Networking is like a two-way traffic. When you meet someone, tell them about your business and let them tell you about theirs. Start with the basics:
– Nature of business, etc.
The next step is to find out how you can benefit each other. Exchange these pieces of information with your contact:
• What your company does?
• Which kind of clients do you serve?
• Who are the decision makers within your firms?
• What differentiates you from your competitors?
Get the value of the contact
It is impossible to network with every single person you meet so, it is essential that you are able to select who is worth your time.
To know who is worth your time, ask yourself these questions; can they help me? And can I help them? Your answer to both questions should be YES.
Form a strategic coalition
That you have a stack of business cards is not the same thing as networking but having a collection of people that you have quality relationship with.
Once you have successfully built your group, you will give each other advice, information and become each other’s sales agent, contributing to each other’s progress.
Generate business not only from your contacts, but everyone your contact knows.
As you continually grow your contact base, you have to re-evaluate your group. Classify your contacts and make sure to be constantly in touch with the ones most valuable to you and make them your inner circle.
Be careful never to end any relationship permanently because you never know when that person can be of help. For contacts that you feel are not useful right now, still maintain a cordial relationship with them.
Be nice to every one!!!