Networking for your business is about making friends. Networking is a great strategy for small business owners – people want to do business with other people (that they know, like and trust) not with some faceless company).
“Networking is a marketing strategy that facilitates developing relationships which can generate referrals or business.”
However, there are processes to this and basic steps to follow to ensure you have a successful networking.
5 basic steps to incorporate into your networking processes:
Free your mind and the rest will follow! There are plenty of techniques and tips to make you a better at networking, but the real key is approaching it in the right frame of mind.
- Understand that networking is really just a process of meeting people and having conversations. It’s not a sales call and it’s not a job interview.
- Identify Your Target: Have you ever seen a fly fisherman that pulls in fish after fish? He knows what he’s fishing for and he knows what those fish like. Do you know what you’re after?
- Identify where to network and prepare your meeting strategy: Sure you can network almost anywhere, but there are only 24 hours in the day so you should identify what will work best for you and reach out for those periods and moments. Also, one of the best ways to overcome fear is to be prepared – decide what you want to do.
- Ask Questions: People enjoy being listened to. The secret to being a great listener is to ask the right questions. Go with open-ended questions that will get people to talk. In the book, How to Win Friends and Influence; Dale Carnegie emphasized on talking about what interest the other person and not you. People get excited by you asking or talking about what they are interested in and give a little concern about what you do (the selfish nature of man). So, get to ask about the other person (likes, interest and all). And in no time, you build a strong rapport and relationship with them.
- Follow-up: If you were a farmer, you would have spent a lot of time determining the best thing to plant, preparing the field and going to pick out the seed. However there will be no crop if you don’t actually plant the seed and water it. There are a lot of ways to follow-up, including phone, email or even LinkedIn – the key is to make sure you do something with the contacts that you make to keep the ball rolling (when it makes sense).
“Nurture relationships and follow up on everyone of them.”
These are basic steps to have a successful networking experience. You can always include some other relevant and helpful steps into your own process.
As you go about your daily chores and businesses, you will be surprised, as a business person, what you do most of the time is actually networking. Practice the basic steps and see yourself improve in your networking with the people you require for growth in your business and life generally.
KSS BY: Bashir Buhari