In the 2nd of this series to the LPN business networking strategist Andy Lopata shares his tips for breaking down the barriers to successful business networking.
Be in the Room
Nigel always stresses, “if you’re in the room, BE in the room”. Focus all of your attention on the person to whom you’re speaking. Give them the gift of your presence.
That means resisting the temptation to look for your next ‘victim’, check to see if the canapés are out yet or worrying if you’re missing the latest episode of Downton Abbey. Just for those few minutes, truly listen to the person you’re sharing a conversation with and be in the room for them.
The centrepiece of any networking strategy. As I constantly stress, networking isn’t about events or sites. It’s about relationships. The events and sites just allow us to meet new people and to stay in touch, the goal is to build a strong network of trusted relationships.
Find people with whom you have rapport, common interests or who complement you in one way or another. Then get to know them. Put your personal interest to one side as you get to know the individual. Look to support them before you worry about how they can help you.
The most effective networks build relationships so that they can sellthrough their network rather than trying to sell to their network.
B is also for…
Of course you need to have a clear understanding of how your networking activity can benefit you, more of that later in the alphabet. In the meantime, and more importantly, how can you benefit your network?
There are no prizes for the person who gives away or collects the most cards. Business cards seal the deal on a conversation and tell the other person that you plan to develop the relationship further. Offer them only if appropriate and ask for them only when you plan to follow up.
Respect other people’s boundaries, whether that’s their personal space when you’re speaking; their comfort referring members of their family or their willingness to help someone they’ve only just met. Build the relationship first (see above) and boundaries will gradually fall back.
Networking is as much about introducing mutually respected business contacts to one another as it is making direct contacts oneself.
If you’re Authentic in the way you interact with your network (see ‘A is for…‘), then people will believe you and be more comfortable supporting you and confident referring you.
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