Successful Networking - Make your contacts work for you
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A recommendation or a referral is a strong marketing tool - never underestimate it - and the power of a network multiplies this effect. Making a network work for you, requires that you put in some selfless time and effort – you can’t just collect business cards and expect the sales leads to come rolling in, it’s far more subtle than that. Building a successful networker means working on relationships, creating friendships and securing a level of trust – that takes time. A powerful network can be a huge support mechanism, say when you decide to change jobs, launch a new venture or expand regionally, but where do you start?
According to ‘Girard’s Law of 250’ each of us have around 250 people that we interact with – this includes everyone that you know, hairdresser, builder, family, friends, doctor, postman, in fact anyone that you are in personal contact with regularly. There’s your starting point. To actively expand your network, particularly in a commercial context, you must grasp every opportunity to mingle with your target audience – join the local Chamber of Commerce and any professional bodies, attend seminars and conferences, offer to speak at workshops and generally look to cooperate with any organisation that will widen the scope of your contacts. This takes you to the next stage – developing your network - and before you step out of the door, make a quick reference to the checklist below:
- Invest in or develop a contact management database, update and load on your current contact list.
- Prepare your networking introduction – know how you are going to present yourself and what concise, clear messages you want to deliver.
- Arm yourself with plenty of business cards and distribute them appropriately.
- Ensure you are ready to be courteous and polite – even if the person you are talking to is of no interest to you whatsoever.
- Be prepared to be more interested in anyone you meet than perhaps they might be in you.
- Take any opportunity to be of help to someone within your network and don’t expect anything in return.
- Keep notes on all your new contacts and record all this information on your database.
If you are enthusiastic and interested in other people’s businesses or projects, they will remember you – ask questions and offer assistance where appropriate – ensure that you follow this up after the event. Send relevant information through, articles in the press for example. Refer and introduce people to others and when you are given a referral, ensure that you write and thank the referee.
Greg Young of LeaderShape commented: “Invest in your network and it will pay dividends in the long-run. You have to start by increasing your visibility, but really successful networking is about relationship building – for this you must be prepared to give as much, if not more, than you take.”
About the Author
Greg is a Co-founder and Managing Director of LeaderShape Ltd. With over five
years experience of coaching at Managing Director and Board level, Greg studied
at the Oxford School of Coaching and Mentoring. He is a committed member of the
European Mentoring and Coaching Council and is a member of the Steering
Committee of the South East Leadership Academy. Visit
http://www.leadershape.biz for more
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2010-01-14 14:17:07 in Personal Articles