Networking! It’s the end-all-be-all of business success, with the word “net” being the giveaway. Think of networking as your safety net in business. Envision casting a wide net to catch, or make, as many relationships as you can.
Networking involves engagement. When you are truly engaged, you build trust. It’s not easy, but when it’s done right, it’s RIGHT! First you have to identify those people who are going to boost your business. That can be done anywhere…at the bookstore, over coffee or lunch, at the dentist, or at the gym.
Once you’ve identified those key individuals, next comes building the relationships. And it’s all about communication and reciprocation. Get to understand their business. Start referring people to them, and you know what, they’ll start doing the same for you. And we all know that with referrals, comes new business. And who doesn’t want that?
So how do you become engaged?
- Take time to meet regularly with people in your network.
- Surround yourself with people who are passionate.
- Educate them on the key aspects of your business, the products, etc.
- Understand their business as well; learn about their products and services and use them.
- Position yourself as an expert, an educator, but most importantly…a person
- In the book, The Yes Factor, author Tonya Reiman says, “…the fastest way to someone’s heart is to express interest in them. Exude happiness and confidence…and your charm becomes contagious.”
If you are successful in developing strong relationships, your referral sources will help identify opportunities for you. They’ll do this because they know you would do the same for them. It’s reciprocal and it takes time, but it works.
In the book, Launching a Leadership Revolution, by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward, the authors share that relationships are based on:
- accepting people;
- approving of people;
- appreciating people;
- seeing the good in people;
- caring for people;
- putting others first;
- helping people accomplish goals;
- …and living the “Golden Rule.”
Research has shown that reciprocal engagement in a business relationship results in higher productivity. According to Psychology Today, people who are actively engaged in a business environment are 43% more productive than those who are not. Furthermore, they say that engagement includes: regular dialogue, quality of relationship, and recognition.1
Take advantage of social media, if you don’t already. Have valuable conversations on Facebook and LinkedIn. These platforms are great ways to build credibility and make new connections that can lead to business success.
Take your networking to new levels. Remember, engagement is much more than just a meeting. It’s about building long-term relationships. Be committed by keeping your relationships in front of your every day.
How do you, or how can you, support your networking partners and build your teams? How do you increase your referrals? We’d love to hear from you!