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Networking= Success

June 27, 2012

Networking know-how

By Patti Noonan – Vernon Morning Star
First Published: June 10, 2012 1:00 AM
Patti Noonan is the executive director of the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce.

Over the last few weeks, I had the opportunity to speak to new chamber members about membership benefits.

More and more, the No. 1 benefit they were interested in was networking. Most successful business owners say networking is the key to success in business. It helps you build relationships that can assist you in recruiting new clients, hiring staff and even finding investors.

One of the new members mentioned they are a bit shy and not outgoing at all. They felt challenged when it came to branching out and promoting their business at networking events.

It is possible for shrinking violets to network once they understand that networking is about building sincere relationships based on a mutual give-and-take. Networking is key to success and to achieving your goals.

To build your business through networking, here are a few suggestions.

  • Start small – If the idea of approaching people you don’t know intimidates you, begin your efforts by seeking out familiar faces such as relatives and friends. A series of successful encounters can boost your self-esteem. 
  • Be yourself – While you have to make an effort to be more outgoing, you need to stay authentic. It is OK if you aren’t a schmoozer. 
  • Ask for introductions – A speaker once said shy people will often find one person and then spend all their time with them, sometimes for the duration of the event. While this is more comfortable for you, it defeats the purpose of networking. Ask your new friend if they know anyone else at the event and if they would make some introductions for you.
  • Use their name – When you meet someone, use their name in the conversation. It makes them feel more comfortable, which in turn leads to a good conversation.
  • Smile – Simple rule that most people don’t think about. Other networkers are more likely to approach you if you have a smile on your face. 
  • Be prepared – If you are worried about being tongue-tied, prepare yourself. Think of questions you can ask and always have a short pitch about your business ready to share.
  • Ask a question – The best way to engage others is to ask a question. It is much easier to do that than barge in with an opinion.
  • Listen – If you listen with sincere interest when someone else is discussing their experiences and opinions, you will have a good networking experience (and you won’t have to say much).
  • Don’t take it personally – If someone can’t or doesn’t want to help you, don’t worry about it and don’t dwell on it. That’s life.
  • Remember your passion – You are not just your business – you have hobbies and interests. The person standing next to you might share the same hobby, which can be a great conversation starter. Don’t just rely on business networking. Join a club or organization where you can attend events in a comfortable environment. 
  • Be generous – Networking works best when you have something to offer, however, it doesn’t always have to be a referral. Sincere interest, offering a compliment and good listening skills are forms of generosity and they can go a long way when you are a beginner in the networking world.
  • Business cards – Always have them with you. It is a great way to help others remember who you are.
  • Follow up – Sharing information with new contacts builds your credibility, but failing to follow up can destroy what you have worked hard to accomplish. If you promised to e-mail a link to someone you met at the last Business after Business, make sure you do that.
  • Take risks – You never know, the person sitting beside you might be just as shy as you and will appreciate you taking the first step. You will never know unless you try.

Be real, share your passion and help others feel good about themselves or their business – that is what networking is about, and that is what will help you grow your business.

You can put these tips to the test at the upcoming Business Network SW events!

For more of the best networking tips …..

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