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The 59 Commandments of Business Networking 1 – 26!

March 1, 2013

The 59 Commandments of Business Networking

Business networking  is one of the most effective marketing and prospecting tools you can use to grow your business. Of course, done incorrectly it can actually be harmful to your business.

Somewhere down the road salespeople were given the idea that business networking meant pitching and selling. Eek! Nothing could be further from the truth.

Of course, if you don’t plan on being in business for very long, then by all means pitch and sell. If you plan to switch companies often, have at it! If, on the other hand, you plan on building a great business that will stand the test of time, don’t pitch and sell when you are networking.

Business networking is really about building relationships. It’s about finding those people with whom you have things in common. It’s like dating. Have you ever met a man or woman who was so aggressive and pushy that you ran the other way? You wouldn’t dream of dating them.

Then there are the people who are so unsure and timid that you never get the chance to meet them. And then there are the people who are genuinely interested in meeting people and getting to know them so they can find the person they want to spend the rest of their life with.

Am I describing dating or business networking? Exactly! Both. They are very similar in nature.

Just as in dating, in business networking you have to meet and get to know people to determine whether they are good referral partners or clients. When you go into the process with the narrow focus of gaining a piece of business, you miss all of the steps designed to keep you safe, happy and successful. Your focus is in the wrong place.

When, however, you focus on really getting to know people, you will be open to and aware of all of the signals. You will build quality, productive relationships that will work for you and your business over and over again.

I define business networking as building relationships with people who may or may not need what you have to sell. So you see, it’s not about selling to them. It’s about making the connections and building your contact base.

People have to trust you before they’ll do business with you or refer you. How can you make sure you are presenting yourself as someone who is trustworthy? By following the 59 commandments here.

Now, commandments might be a strong word–but this is a serious topic.

There was a time when we would network through organizations, events and referral groups. These are still relevant and have been joined by social networking. Social networking is relatively new and therefore requires a conversation about guiding principles – or commandments.

Let’s start with networking at events. There are various aspects of this type of business networking, from preparation to follow up, and everything in between.

Preparation – up to and including as you walk in the door

1. Identify where you should go. All venues are not right for all people. You owe it to yourself to do your research and find the venues that make sense for your business.

2. Make a decision about which organizations you should join and which you don’t have to join in order to gain value from their events. For example, does it make sense to join a local chamber of commerce, or just go to the events that sound interesting and will most likely include people you should meet?

3. Register for the event and schedule it like a business meeting. Many people either don’t sign up for events or sign up for them and then forget to go.

4. Determine how often you should be networking in a given week, month or quarter. This will help you narrow down where you should be going.

5. Develop open-ended questions you can use to ignite a conversation. Try to find unique questions; don’t ask the same old “So, what do you do?” if you can help it.

6. Attend events with a plan to learn something new. This will keep you from talking too much about yourself and your business.

7.Prepare yourself physically and mentally for the event.

  • Dress appropriately.
  • Bring business cards.
  • Turn your phone off or set it to vibrate (I’m not kidding!).

Behavior – from the time you enter the room

8. If you go to an event with someone you know, split up once you get there.

9. When you walk into the room, step to the side, take a deep breath and scan the room. This will give you a chance to regroup and focus before you approach anyone.

10. Don’t sit down until the program begins. If there is no program, you can sit once you’ve connected with someone.

11. Sit with strangers, not with people you know.

12. When you see someone sitting alone, go to them and introduce yourself. You’ll be saving their life! They are alone and nervous. You can even take them with you to mix and mingle with others.

13. Don’t give your business card to everyone you meet. Rather, give it to anyone who asks you for it.

14. Do get the business card of everyone you meet.

15. Have a firm but not killer handshake. Your handshake is a key indicator of your level of confidence. If it’s too weak you are telegraphing. If it is too strong you are sending a signal that you are probably more aggressive than assertive or cooperative. Either way, it doesn’t lend itself to building relationships.

16. Be present. When you are talking with someone, look them in the eye and really pay attention to what they are saying.

17. Don’t look around the room or over someone’s shoulder when you are talking with them. It’s rude. You are letting them know that you aren’t really interested in them.

18. Don’t take a phone call. If you are expecting a call or have a situation that may need your attention, let the person you are talking with know there is the possibility you’ll have to excuse yourself.

19. If you have to take a call, leave the room and go to a quiet place. It doesn’t make you seem important if you take a call in the room. It makes you seem impolite, silly, rude, arrogant . . . take your pick!

20. Disengage politely. How do you get away from someone politely? There are a couple of tactics.

  • You can tell them you don’t want to monopolize their time.
  • You can tell them you see someone you need to speak with.
  • You can excuse yourself to the restroom.
  • You can tell them you’d like to continue meeting people.

Follow up (this is critical)!

If you are going to take the time to network, then please take the time to follow up with the people you meet. You can send them a handwritten note or reach out to them to schedule coffee or a meeting. This depends on how well you connected.

21. Don’t follow up via e-mail unless the person asks you to.

22. Do at least send a note.

23. Don’t pitch too early. Quite frankly, don’t “pitch” at all. When you build relationships it will become apparent to you and the other person when it makes sense to do business with each other. Remember, business networking is about relationships, not selling.

24. Don’t sign people up for your newsletter without their permission.

25. Don’t assume that just because you met someone you now have license to gain a referral from them, use them as a resource, or give them your promotional and sales materials.

26. Do err on the side of good manners and the golden rule.

 

The 59 Commandments of Business Networking

 

“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.” Napoleon Bonaparte

With events being held regularly in Bristol, Exeter and Taunton join us and see how you can and your business can benefit. 

Forthcoming events  – all giving you the chance to participate in events that will give you numerous opportunities.

To get your invitation to a BNSW event please use the link here 

Call 01981 540708

Email sean@business-network.co.uk

 

  • Do you want to generate opportunities that will enhance your business?
  • Do you want to build mutually beneficial relationships with other decision makers?
  • Do you want your networking to be relaxed and comfortable?
  • How about business seminars that can positively impact your business?
  • Would a huge variety of contacts that are useful to your business?
  • Do you want the opportunity to promote your business and expertise?
  • Do you want a team of advocates and ambassadors for your business?
  • What about generating an ROI on your networking?
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