Perhaps a particular book titled “How to network for business growth” will always remain lying on most marketers’ desk, and sometimes, even on veterans in the industry. Nevertheless, it goes to show that there isn’t a sure way, let alone the ever changing nature of networking that business people today need to continuously learn and adapt to. New business strategies, new trends and new techniques appear now and then; in fact even on new forms of media. Most businesses spend time finding the next business networking methods, only to find it irrelevant over time.
How To Network for Business Growth?
Networking gurus like Dr. Ivan Misner (Father of Modern Networking) of Business Network International (BNI) & Matthew Rothenberg, Editor-in-Chief of The Ladders profess about their own secrets and strengths that made them who they are now, achieving greatness in knowing how to network for business growth.
Business networking is a communal solution to the challenges of starting, running and growing a successful business. As such it relies on maintaining a number of social relationships. These social relationships in business are based heavily on trust and require a lot of face to face nurturing. – Dave Clarke, NRG
With many advice given from books, videos and articles read everywhere, some conclusions can be found from all that. And here are some of the highlights on how to network for business growth:
1. RELAX: A word so simple that just meant to ask us to take it easy. When networking, be yourself. Don’t challenge yourself by being someone you idolized. The danger in this practice is that you’ll never actually be that someone you always admired. They are special in their own right and your strengths and weaknesses are just partial to that. As most people are not naturally wise talkers, it takes sheer guts to hold a conversation full of knowledge and humor. Perhaps an easier approach is to glance through the room for an easier “target” to shake of the butterflies in tummy before the approaching the eloquent target you always wanted to speak to. Bring out topics that you can discuss at least 2 – 3 minutes and reach out for supporting tools such as the business card.
2. WHO, WHAT, WHERE: Some of the important elements when networking is to understand these 3 focuses.
The WHO would be to make yourself visible to the crowd either by dressing smartly or know who you are talking and making them know who you are.
The WHAT would be to understand what they do and then offer them the knowledge of what you might be doing.
The WHERE is to lead the person or group you are addressing in conversation, somewhere that you want them to be at.
These 3 items will always make your conversations meaningful and purposeful. Creating that first impression and follow up to concrete the rapport is much needed.
3. FOLLOW UP: Essentially THE MOST important subject of networking actually lies here. Without follow ups, all your rapport built during the business networking session fall apart very quickly. Your subject might loose confidence and trust in you or even your work. Follow up techniques could be as simple as to drop an instant email (not lengthy) to re-introduce and thank for the pleasant conversation and the need to establish a connection either by an intended task at hand that you’ve discussed or simply to catch up for another closer or personal meeting. Obviously a call sometime down the line would very much strengthen the relationship. Imagine courtship at a professional level. It’s simply that easy.
Never throw in the towel just because your subject in pursuit doesn’t answer in the short term. Most business people are rather busy
and get caught up with other matters too. Another important but not necessarily easy method to learn or practice is to study the Body Language of the people that you are having a conversation with. Catching body languages to identify what your subject can be useful to know if you are on the right track. Dr Paul Ekman (an expert in body language and great in detecting if someone tell lies) demonstrates some techniques especially on facial expressions in the series Lie To Me. A series recommended for most business or sales people on even how to network for business growth.
And if you have successfully known how to network for business growth well, and couldn’t seem to grow it any further, remember that the Dunbar research might just well be true. Robin Dunbar, founder of the Dunbar Number conducted the research which concluded that human beings can only maintain stable social relationships with about 150 people. The ability to maintain these relationships is getting harder as our network becomes spread over much greater distances than a few decades ago. So don’t be disappointed then. View the video to understand better.
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