Networking for contacts has been in vogue for many years, and that is how many organizations are able to grow exponentially to an even greater size and sales volume.
Usually, someone invites you to a meeting or event where you learn more about a particular company or product. In many cases, you use current relationships to expand your circle of influence. That’s true for business, social reasons, church or synagogue, and many other types of groups.
One way to network is to attend conferences in various industries related to your business or sales efforts. It’s obvious as to why this can be beneficial: You get educated, network with your peers, and gain new perspectives and new ideas.
Of course, social network has exploded over the past couple of years with the advent of LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and several other websites that drive a huge amount of media in cyber space. Often, perception becomes reality when self-proclaimed bloggers promote ideas and concepts online, and that type of networking has the potential to explode your exposure to others who may have common interests. The numbers of users are in the hundreds of millions, and the messaging is in the billions—thoughts, coupons, invitations, photos and videos, deals of the day, and a countless myriad of other ideas.
According to Business Know-How magazine online, effective business networking is the linking together of individuals who, through trust and relationship building, become walking, talking advertisements for one another. Stephanie Speisman is a Success Coach who coaches groups and individuals in business networking skills based on her booklet “99 Tips for Successful Business Networking.”
Here are 10 ways she recommends to increase your opportunities:
“Ask yourself what your goals are in participating in networking meetings so that you will pick groups that will help you get what you are looking for. Some meetings are based more on learning, making contacts, and/or volunteering rather than on strictly making business connections.
Visit as many groups as possible that spark your interest. Notice the tone and attitude of the group. Do the people sound supportive of one another? Does the leadership appear competent? Many groups will allow you to visit two times before joining.
Hold volunteer positions in organizations. This is a great way to stay visible and give back to groups that have helped you.
Ask open-ended questions in networking conversations. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. This form of questioning opens up the discussion and shows listeners that you are interested in them.
Become known as a powerful resource for others. When you are known as a strong resource, people remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. This keeps you visible to them.
Have a clear understanding of what you do and why, for whom, and what makes your doing it special or different from others doing the same thing. In order to get referrals, you must first have a clear understanding of what you do that you can easily articulate to others.
Be able to articulate what you are looking for and how others may help you. Too often people in conversations ask, "How may I help you?" and no immediate answer comes to mind.
Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honor that and your referrals will grow.
Call those you meet who may benefit from what you do and vice versa. Express that you enjoyed meeting them, and ask if you could get together and share ideas.”
Casting your net for fish has been done for thousands of years. Using different techniques and methods to find them is constantly changing and improving. Some old school tricks still work, and new innovative ideas can also help in hauling in a fine catch.
In business, as in other circles, there are many minnows, and a few whales. Use what and whom you know, and learn new ways to make your net work. Don’t be afraid to sail out into uncharted waters. Who knows; you might catch the big one.