Whenever the word ‘networking’ is mentioned, most people feel it means the usual exchange of business cards or phone numbers or the mere introductions which have become the ritual when two persons or a group of people are meeting for the first time in a seminar, cock tail party or anywhere. Networking is much more than that.
Networking is a process of earning trust and friendship. It is a series of actions that helps us to build lasting relationships that would eventually affect our lives and businesses in the long run. In a simpler term, networking is about making casual or business friends.
Effective networking means purposefully creating enduring and profitable relationships that supports the growth of one’s business. In business, it is the size of one’s network that determined the size of his net worth. It is people’s patronage in a business that guarantees profit. So, networking is no more an optional exercise. It should be a lifestyle for all who want to succeed in business and in every aspect of life.
Most times, people ask questions like, why should I network? I can’t talk to strangers! But the reason is simple. People prefer to buy from or do business with those they know and trust. It is effective networking that opens doors that are closed to others. Effective networking builds trust that even leads to loyalty. We may have noticed that sometimes some customers are ready to wait for hours or even postpone a purchase because the right product or person he/she wants to buy from is not available at the very moment. That is loyalty and it is effective networking that builds it. Also we network because it helps us to build leverage.
There are times when young businesses demand guarantors to access funds, it is effective networking that helps the young entrepreneur to access this fund. Specialists suggest that 90% of all business sponsorships are a product of third or second person referrals and help. People want to help who they know and trust.
Effective networking is a skill that some individuals are born with, they naturally love to meet new people and go extra miles to keep, make their friends and acquaintances happy. Sometimes, it is learnt. Whether it is learnt or inborn, there are inevitable keys that make business networking effective. By effective I mean, yielding the desired responses which is helping the growth of your business. They are;
Have And Show Real Interest In People
Every creature responds to care and love. Humans require even more care and love and we always reciprocate with same to the first giver. Humans have ego, we all want to be treated with care, we all want to know that our family and friends care for us. Even though we know they care, we want them to always show it. It reassures us that we have value. The same way we feel when a cashier sitting across the bank counter goes beyond formality to ask us how we are and about our job and family, that is the same way others would feel when we do the same to them. The next time, the client, customer or friend would naturally want to visit that counter again. It is simply the same law, it does not change.
Know Your Business And Why You Are Different
In the process of introducing your business to a new friend, part of what enhances the effectiveness of that networking effort is the depth of your knowledge of your business and your ability to tell your new friend or contact why your products or services are different. He/she looks to see the passion for your business in your eyes. It is the quality of what you say that would determine the value that your new contact will attach to your business. Clear communication is important. Salesmanship is a skill that every entrepreneur must have. First impression is often the only impression one has to make to land a big business partner.
Have A Goal And A Strategy
If an entrepreneur wants to secure a loan from a bank or any organization, it is always important to purposefully go out of one’s way to search for and get to know people who either have influence in the bank, the lending institution or someone who would supply the needed information which will be crucial for that success. That is for the goal. We may have at one time or the other joined an organization or participated in a program just because we want to use that platform to sell a product or meet a top business leader. This is a strategy.
Follow Up With A New Contact
Calling a new contact a few days after exchanging business cards with them goes a long way in building the relationship. Relationships are built and consolidated through communication. Listen more to them while they speak to you so that you would get to understand them more and to even know when there is an issue they want to bring to your notice. With these keys, every business has a future.