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Sunday, August 15, 2010

BNI: Three Steps to Ease Into Networking

It's summer and it's hot! All you can think about is cooling off in the pool! You know it will be refreshing and you will be with friends or family that you have been looking forward to spending time with. You're ready to get in, but before you do, you test the waters with your toe but it’s cold! You know that you want to get in, but you can't just "jump in”. So you go back on the deck to psych yourself up.

To a lot of people, especially a new business owner, networking is just like getting into that pool for the first time. They may want to be present and there will be people they know. Yet it just feels too cold and instead of just jumping in, they retreat for another time or until they are ready.
Here are three steps to ease into the “networking” pool:

1. Think positive- If you think the pool is too cold, it will be. If you think the event will be intimidating, it will be. Tell yourself how great it will be and how good it will feel to have the sense of accomplishment! Just like you psych yourself to get into the pool, you can psych yourself for the event!

2. Dress for success- There are certain items of clothing that are suitable for swimming. It would be challenging to go for a dip if you were wearing a snowmobile suit. It could actually hinder your progress and weigh you down and you could even drown. If you are wearing something inappropriate for networking, you can also take a dive. Dressing according to your business is always a good idea, but many find it helpful to dress it up a notch. They find that a little extra care, gives them confidence, not to mention an edge over their competition. Also, don't forget your smile. The most important accessory you could put on!

3. Be prepared- To swim in a pool, you need to have the water ready. To network at an event, you need to have your words ready. Practice what to say when someone asks you what you do. Memorize a phrase or two that will just roll off your tongue. Once you are comfortable and a person is truly interested in what you do, you will find it easy to speak from the heart. Remember to have business cards, paper, a writing utensil and your calendar along. It’s a perfect opportunity to set up a meeting to get to know a fellow networker at a later date.

By practicing these tips and making them your own, it will become easier to attend a networking function, just like easing into the pool a little at a time. However, you may find you reach a certain level of comfort that you decide to just go all the way in. Whether you become numb to the effects of your mind or just reach a level of comfort, the result will be refreshing and satisfying. You will build some relationships and you may just get some business along the way!

Tara Schmakel is the owner of her business of 14 years The Workroom at Tara’s. She is a Director with BNI Minnesota assisting more than 250 members with their business and chapter goals. She is most recently the Executive Chair of the Entrepreneurial Excellence Business Forum in Minneapolis and is the author of The Once Timid Networker blog.

With over 5,500 active chapters, and over 100,000 members throughout every populated continent worldwide, BNI is the largest and most successful business referral organization in the world. BNI was founded in 1985 by Dr. Ivan Misner and the organization, which allows only one person from each profession to join a chapter, offers members the opportunity to share ideas, contacts, and most importantly, referrals. Last year alone, members of BNI passed 6.2 million referrals, generating 2.6 billion dollars’ worth of business.

For more information on BNI, please visit or call BNI Headquarters at 909.608.7575.

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The Emergence of the Relationship Economy features TNNWC Founder, Adam J. Kovitz as a contributing author and contains some of his early work on The Laws of Relationship Capital. The book is available in hardcopy and e-book formats. With a forward written by Doc Searls (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame), it is considered a "must read" for anyone responsible for the strategic direction of their business. If you would like to purchase your own copy, please click the image above.


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