Six Overlooked Business Networking Opportunities
We all know social networking (web networking) is a BIG DEAL. Heck, you are reading my BLOG. However face-to-face business networking is FAR from long gone. In fact, with our economy on the rebound (yes you read it here first), now is a great time to get your personal curb appeal in check and get out there. Business networking events are everywhere, but they are NOT THE ONLY WAY to CONNECT. Here are six often overlooked business networking tips (opportunities) for opening face-to-face relationships from my book, Cracking the Networking CODE : 4 Steps to Priceless Business Relationships.
CODE Overlooked Business Networking Tip # 1 Speak at Conferences.
TRUE, speaking in public strikes big fear in the hearts and minds of the unprepared, and TRUE is the #1 fear for a lot of people, one slot above death. But speaking at conferences that match your industy or your prospects’ industries is a business networking opportunity that has the power to position you as an expert, a leader, a thinker in your community and your industry. It might be worth joining Toastmasters ( www.toastmasters.org ) to get over the fear and polish the tools needed to become a confident speaker and a successful business networker. Toastmasters can help you become an interesting person and a valuable resource to others by sharpening your communications skills. You’ll gain self-confidence and learn to present a great first impression. Get ready, because with Toastmasters there are live speaking opportunities from the get -go.
CODE Overlooked Business Networking Tip # 2 Follow Your Money.
Who are your suppliers?
Where do you spend money?
What places do you frequent?
Get to know your vendors better. If you are their customer, they probably serve other topnotch business professionals like you , right? Find out who else they know. Their contacts could be worth more than the service or products they provide. Work to build the exchange of contacts into the relationships. Ask them to recommend you. A nifty by-product of relationship-building is you will likely improve the quality of your service.
CODE Overlooked Business Networking Tip # 3 Help Everyone That Thinks You ROCK Become a Great Business Networker
Offer others opportunities to grow their network as well proven strategies and techniques for effective self-marketing and relationship-building. As your contacts’ networks grow and strengthen , so do yours.
“The greatest good we can do for others is not to share our riches, but to assist in revealing their own.”
— Benjamin Disraeli
CODE Overlooked Business Networking Tip # 4 Hug a “gatekeeper.”
Make friends with the executive assistants of those you want to create a relationship with. Often executive assistants either become solid allies or your worst nightmare. Do not make the mistake of taking them for granted or seeing them as obstacles to be overcome. Heck, they’re the ones who set up appointments for the decision maker. And in a lot of cases…THEY ARE THE DECISION MAKERS.
Get to know everyone in the office as individuals. Talk with them. Learn all the front-office folks’ names, special interests and hobbies, the names of their kids, and stuff like that. Check for clues from what they display on their desks. Be dependable and genuine. If you can build a solid bond with these key individuals, you will differentiate yourself from run-of-the-mill sales punks who ignore gatekeepers and just try to barge in to see the big chief.
If gatekeepers know and respect us, they can recommend us when the need for our service arises. They can keep us in the loop. They can be our greatest champion. Plus, executives respect us more if we have an authentic interest in their whole staff. Most executives like and respect their assistants and value their insight, so if the assistant likes we , so will the person in charge.
Added business networking tip ******* To gain a possible inside track, ask assistants what groups their boss is active in. Join those groups and get involved those events. When decision makers see you engaged in activities outside of the office, they develop more confidence and respect for you. That’s good.
CODE Overlooked Business Networking Tip # 5 Include Friends and Neighbors.
Far too often, we already know people with the right contacts or expertise, but we do not know it. It is imperative to get to know everyone in your existing network on a more solid footing.
Find out who your closest friends and colleagues know. It is probably worthwhile for you to get to know more of your friends’ friends and your neighbors’ neighbors (of course, you are first going to have to actually meet your neighbors). You never know where your next opportunity, job, or client will come from, so do not rule out your friends and relatives as possible contacts. Your Uncle Abbott may have a neighbor who has a son who needs exactly what your company has to offer.
CODE Overlooked Business Networking Tip # 6 Bond with the spouses and significant others of the influential.
The influence and power wielded by spouses and significant others is grossly underestimated. And because of this, they often go ignored. When offered the chance at a function , invest the time to make a solid connection with them. Get to know them as people, and after the event they are likely to speak well of you to the very person you targeted.
As I mentioned at the top of this post, things ARE GETTING BETTER. I hope these business networking tips help you get out there and Crack the Networking CODE.
P.S. As I also mentioned at the top of this post, SOCIAL Networking (web networking) is a big deal. Do you twitter? I do and am at: www.twitter.com/deanlindsay All my new blog posts get a tweet.