2017-07-25 06:01

ALL new businesses know the importance of networking.  When you are just starting out, nobody knows who you are or your business, and it is up to you to go out there and tell your story. 

It is a daunting task for many — putting yourself out there in rooms full of strangers. However, there are some tips that can help you get the most out of these interactions.

Start with yourself and ensure that you are driven by an authentic and genuine desire to help others.
Show a keen interest in your fellow business folk and be prepared to invest time in building a relationship based on trust and mutual respect. Don’t be mercenary, going in with an agenda of “what is in it for me”, punting a one-way-street sales pitch.
If you want to connect with someone, find a way to help that person. Find out their desires, needs and concerns, and chances are that you will be able to offer something worthwhile. Listen, ask open-ended questions starting with what, who, why, when and how, as opposed to those that can be dismissed with straight yes or no answers.

Secondly, it is important to find the right networking groups. Have a clear strategy of what it is you wish to achieve out of these interactions and then pursue events and gatherings that support that objective. If you are new to the game, you may initially go to many different meetings. Take note of the tone and attitude of the people in the group. Is there a genuine feel of support for one another?
Do the networking structure and leadership come across as competent in fostering effective networking connections among its members? If there are opportunities, take on volunteer positions to stay visible and give back.

Have a clear sales story in order to get referrals. You need to be able to articulate clearly and succinctly what it is that you do, what sets you apart from the competition and how others can support you.
Follow through on any referrals promptly and comprehensively. Be quick, efficient and true to your word. Remember that when others give you referrals your actions are a reflection on them. Don’t be afraid to go outside the networking meeting. Follow up with a call to those you met, express your enjoyment in meeting them and that you would like to get together and share ideas further over a cup of coffee.

Lastly, become known as a great resource to others — a person who other people turn to for suggestions, ideas, contacts, names and services. Your referrals will hold weight and your circle of influence will grow on its own.
— Supplied.

Show a keen interest in your fellow business folk and be prepared to invest time in building a relationship based on trust and mutual respect.

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