If you are an entrepreneur who is still struggling to get started and get your foot inside the frenzied world of business, then it may be no secret to you that networking is the key to opening your door to many trade opportunities. You have read hundreds of self-help books and have sought for advice from the more experienced, and they all say that networking is the shortest avenue to establishing and growing your business.
Networking is like building a bridge to connect to places you can’t reach by foot alone. Without networking, your business can never find the right traction to make its first few steps. And in this fast-paced world we inhabit in, you wouldn’t want to be caught lagging behind, would you?
As an entrepreneur, your arsenal in the field of networking consists of your business cards and your sweet tongue--or so you thought. But how and where do you begin networking? The key word here is FOCUS. The following are some of the areas where you need to zero in your attention:
1. FOCUS on relationships--Don’t spray and pray. You attend a trade show exhibit, and you come prepared with your business cards. You have one hour to spend networking, and instead of focusing on the gaps in your three key networks, you spray and pray with the business cards, hoping desperately that someone will remember you and send business your way. But after going back to your office, your telephone does not ring as often as you have distributed your cards. What went wrong, you ask. This is where the adage quality is better than quantity comes in. Make sure that you put in more time in making yourself and your business memorable, rather than finishing up all your supply of available cards. Instead, why not put more effort into getting to know a maximum of five people in that hour.
2. FOCUS – on your message. What do you do? If you can’t answer that in 60 seconds or less – you’ve lost your audience ―yawn‖.... If you don’t know exactly what problem you solve or what benefit there is to what you do – go home and think about it before stepping out into the networking world. Remember that customers only think of one thing—what’s in it for me?
3. FOCUS on questions. Write out a list of your top ten favourite questions to get people talking. When you get out there to promote your product, make sure that you know how to tailor your queries to make them suit your customers. What is he looking for, will only be accurately answered if you know his interests first, his line of work, or even his goals. From these information, you will know what questions to ask so you can meet his expectations, as well as make it easier for you to satisfy those expectations. When you get them talking, it is easier for you to make a connection, and hopefully make a potential business opportunity.
4. FOCUS – on the other person. Have you ever wondered why we have two ears, but only one mouth? You guessed it right. You must listen more than you talk. This will appear that you are interested in the other person, and not just fishing for a business deal.
5. FOCUS on giving. Spend more time figuring out how to help as many people as possible and you will get more from your networking efforts. People want to spend time with givers not takers. Givers get more in the long run. The law of reciprocity has been universally proven, and so it applies to networking too.
If you channel your energy to these five things in your networking, you will save yourself from the stress of preparing for other unimportant matters. And with these networking skills under your sleeves, you might be surprised that you don’t need to knock anymore on the doors of opportunity—they will just be opened freely to you.
Cindy R. Mount is a Referral Engineer, a contributing writer to the best-selling books, The Masters of Networking, and the Masters of Sales, a trainer with the Referral Institute and Managing Director with BNI Toronto. Check out the 4-Part Audio Series – More Referrals In Less Time
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.
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