Many people understand business networking as ‘selling’ yourself, your business or product on a one to one basis to the people in the room with you, but that’s not the case.
Business networking is a lot more about relationship building. As you ‘work a room’, you may find people who are in a competitive or similar business niche to you and your company and, in normal circumstances, you may well avoid them. I’d like you to think about them another way. Consider what you can learn from a competitor, what you can share with a business in a related niche? It’s thinking like this that enables people to become successful business networkers. Sharing is a vital element of business networking.
Make yourself Attractive
Business networking is more about making yourself and your company/product/service attractive to others than just selling to them. How many ways can you think of to ‘share’ with another business? What can you give as ‘added value’ to a prospect? What social platform can you use to attract prospects? What information are you willing to share freely? What is it about yourself that will encourage other business owners to refer someone to you? These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself before embarking on some serious business networking.
Learn Networking Skills
You don’t have to be a natural socialiser to make the most of business networking. Networking skills can be learnt quite easily through the right courses. Most business networking courses will build on the skills you already have and teach you simple techniques that you are comfortable using.
People Buy from People they Like
There is one true fact about business networking that we tend to forget. People buy from you because they like you. No matter what you do or say, not everyone will like you all of the time. What you need to do is identify those that do like you. More importantly identify those that like you and also have a need for your type of business – whether it be a direct need or an indirect one.
What Qualities do you Possess?
Consider those that you currently do business with. Who are the people you deal with directly? Why do you deal with them? Sure, they provide the service or product you need but it goes deeper than that doesn’t it? You deal with your printer because he not only provides what you need but he’s a good listener and always friendly. Stop and think about what qualities you possess that other people appreciate in you when they work with you. Write them down.
Let your Qualities Shine
Before you attend your next networking meeting – social or business – read through the lists you’ve written and hold those qualities in your mind as you meet and greet and stand up to give your 60 seconds. Let those qualities shine out during your introduction. These are the qualities that will spark those initial introductions and allow you to begin the relationship development that is crucial to successful business networking.