Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Business Networking - The rules of the game

You’ve just realised that business networking might be right for you. But before you go to networking events it pays dividends to prepare yourself. Here are 7 hints and tips to get you in the right frame of mind so that you can really get the benefits from networking!

1. Be yourself

You need commitment, belief and the right attitude. So, be smart, be prepared and be confident, but above all be yourself and let your passion shine through!

You will naturally be enthused by your product or service. Enthusiasm comes from the Greek meaning 'God within', which sums up just how powerful it can be.

2. Know what you do - and who for

Focus on the solution you provide to your target market.

The temptation to try and appeal to the widest audience you can is counter-productive. It means that no-one understands what you are looking for.

For instance a marketing consultant shows no knowledge of their subject (or what they are looking for) when they say:

“I work with small companies as their outsourced marketing manager, but I also work alongside existing marketing departments in larger companies when they need extra resource”.

The marketing consultant who says:

“I help solicitors win profitable new clients”

immediately focuses the audience on their expertise and market.

3. Communicate effectively

When you are natural you are believable. If there is any conflict between your belief and your communication it will show.

In a UCLA study Dr Mehrabian found that getting the words right is vital, but you must also look and sound credible because when assessing that we depend

  • 7% on what you say (verbal)
  • 38% on how you communicate - pitch, attitude, tone and emphasis (vocal)
  • 55% on the way you look - facial expressions and body movements (visual)

Learn to ask open questions (ie those that require the other person to say more than a yes or no), listen attentively and make links to other people that you know.

Show a genuine interest in other people, so ask questions about them!

4. Manage your reputation

Be reliable, trustworthy and do what you say you would.

Present a professional image with your business cards, badge, e-mail address, website and profiles online.

Demonstrate your competence with:


5. Commit your time

Don’t be in a hurry. Getting business through networking takes time.

Don’t be seen as someone who only networks when they need something.

6. Collect people

Look for networking opportunities where you can find people relevant to your profession i.e. other professionals. But remember the larger and more diverse your network the more help you can be to others.

7. Build relationships

People are more likely to open their contacts for you when they like, know and trust you. So, focus on relationships first and business second.

Develop a giving mentality and become an advocate for others. Remember, what goes round comes round.