It’s not what you know, it’s who you know is the old adage, and it’s not wrong. Networking has always been the best way to find a job, get recommendations, and increase the buzz about any business. Networking has been going on long before the advent of computers and social networking sites.
After-hours business functions, lunches, school runs and more have always been the traditional ways in which business women get together to be social and get to know each other. It’s a great way to build relationships outside of the business but in a way that nurtures their business.
Through business networking you can increase your business opportunities in many ways, and in this post I’ll share 8 ways with you.
1. Business Networking Grows You More Referrals
A referral is considered a “hot” lead. This is someone who has already likely been sold on your business products and or services. All you have to do is provide the referral with the information they want, follow up, and close the deal.
2. It Builds Trust
Trust is one of the foundations of business. People are more likely to want to do business with someone they trust. Networking events give others an opportunity to see you outside of your element and in a new way. Seeing you as a human being will build the trust, as you work toward building relationships that last regardless of what they can do for you.
3. Your Word of Mouth Skyrockets
A well-honed networker has higher word-of-mouth buzz than others because they have demonstrated, through their actions, that they are a resource to others. It doesn’t matter what you sell; if you are vocal about your business, but also helpful and provide advice freely, you’ll be the first person people think about when they need to offer someone a referral.
4. Business Networking Increases Career Satisfaction
When you are happier, it shows when you present your opportunity to others. If you are not happy and don’t understand why you are doing something, it shows too. By practicing presenting your ideas and business to others at networking events, online and off, you will gain confidence in your abilities and it will shine through.
5. Provides a Great Market Education
When you are more knowledgeable about your market, you will create more opportunities for yourself and your business. Networking with peers is great for referrals and comrades, but networking with your audience also provides an education in your market that you cannot get any other way, if you’re listening.
6. Improves Your Communication Abilities
The more you network with others, the better you’ll get at communicating with others. The better you are at communicating, the more people will like and trust you. The more people like and trust you, the busier your business will be.
7.It Makes You to Be Ready
Just the act of going to a networking event pushes you out of your comfort zone and makes you study your business, your audience, and understand what type of education you need to succeed. It gets you outside of your bubble in a way that nothing else can.
8. Gives You the Ability to Test Prior to Production
When you network with honest people, especially your peers, you can try out ideas before putting them into practice. You can see what their reaction is before you waste too much time and money. These valuable insights will increase the profitability of your business!
Business Networking is one of the best ways to increase opportunities for you and your business. Fancy joining us at a business networking meeting for women?
You’re at a business networking event. You’ve mastered your body language, you’ve read all the business networking books you can get your hands on and now it’s time to actually talk to people at a business networking event. And that means starting a conversation that’s meaningful and not a half-hearted:
“Do you come here often? What work do you do?”
What can you say that generates a conversation and makes you both look interesting? And it cannot be run of the mill conversations like “What do you do for a living”. You need nice, open-ended questions that enable a business conversation without sounding like an interrogation. You could also ask how they heard about the event.
Well don’t panic, 1230 TWC have got your back. Here are 10 conversation generators that will get the conversation flowing nicely, but obviously you don’t need to ask them all at once!
The first question is a great one because it enables you to think about who you can connect to the person you’re networking with, when you follow it up with question two, you’re clarifying exactly who they love to work with. Question three enables you to identify who can help from your own network, if help is desired of course. These three questions alone will enable you to build your network and make attractive introductions.
- What type of clients does your business attract?
- What type of client is your least profitable and why?
- What is your biggest business challenge?
- Do you have employees? If so, what’s the most difficult thing you have to deal with relating to your employees?
- What’s the best thing that happened in your business so far this year?
- What is a typical working day like for you?
- How much client contact do you have on a daily basis?
- What do you like and dislike most about your business?
- What are the toughest problems and decisions that you handle?
- What is your next business move?
That’s 10 conversations starters! What about three more to really get your conversations going? Try:
- What problems or needs exist within your industry?
- Who are the most important people in your industry today?
- Where do you see your company going in the coming year?
I recommend you ask the last three when you have built up a rapport with the networker. To ask them straight away will make it look like you’re assessing their value to your network, and it’s based on their response!
The simplest, I find most effective is “Tell me about you.”
Wishing you many happy business networking conversations
PS What questions would you add to the list?
New to business networking? First of all, subscribe to our 7-day business networking boost, you’ll love it. Secondly, check out this top 11 of business networking books. Although this is in no particular order, there is the perfect book for you, no matter what type of business networking you are looking to succeed with.
What are your favourite business networking books?
1. The Skinny on Networking: Maximizing the Power of Numbers by Jim Randel
From Amazon: You’ve probably heard the expression “It’s not what you know, its who you know.” Well, there’s a lot of truth to it. Of course you always need to work hard at your endeavor of choice (“what you know”). Your value in the business world depends on what you can do for people. Therefore, you must have a skill, information or expertise that others will consume that people will pay for. BUT, having that skill, information or expertise is often not enough to maximize your potential. You need people a network to help you distribute your skills. You need people to help you find a job, a loan, customers, or the right partner. The Skinny on Networking: Maximizing the Power of Numbers is about creating and maintaining your network. Illustrated, narrative and easily read in about one hour, this book condenses the thinking of experts, authors and celebrities alike and presents them in an entertaining and engaging format. In The Skinny on Networking you will learn how to: maximize your reach on the internet; get to the people you need; create networking gravity; employ the principle of weak ties; think like a boomerang; expand your social capital; build a reciprocity field; utilize connectors; move beyond your comfort zone; cold call; leverage initial meeting.
2. Highly Effective Networking: Meet the Right People and Get a Good Job by Orville Pierson
From Amazon: Virtually all job hunting experts agree that networking is the best way to find a great job. But most people don’t have connections to the decision makers who do the hiring. And “networking” books, which are mostly written by and for salespeople, suggest aggressive tactics, often confusing these with real networking. They focus on building a powerful network over the course of a lifetime. But when you need a new job, you don’t have time to build a huge, powerful network. You’ve got to use the network you already have. Orville Pierson, a top expert in job hunting, tells you how to succeed by effectively using your current circle of contacts. He cuts through the myths and misunderstandings to show you how millions of job hunters have networked their way to great new jobs. Highly Effective Networking empowers you to: * Use a small network to reach dozens of insiders and decision makers. * Get the right message to the right people, even if you have never met them. * Create a project plan to organize your networking efforts. * Speak effectively and comfortably with your networking contacts. * Talk to decision makers before the job opening is announced. Networking in job hunting is different than other networking. You don’t have to hobnob with the rich and famous. There’s no need for aggressive sales tactics. You just need to understand how real networking fits into your job search, and then be systematic about doing it.
3. Masters of Networking: Building Relationships for your Pocketbook and Soul by Ivan R. Misner
From Amazon: Packed with valuable insights from 100 of today’s top networkers, and with proven examples from many businesses and professions, this exciting book shows why networking is the most effective marketing tool today.
4. Make Your Contacts Count: Networking Know-How for Business and Career Success by Anne Baber
From Amazon: Make Your Contacts Count is a practical, step-by-step guide for creating, cultivating, and capitalizing on networking relationships and opportunities. Packed with valuable tools, the book offers a field-tested “Hello to Goodbye” system that takes readers from entering a room, to making conversations flow, to following up. Updated from its first edition, the book now includes expanded advice on building social capital at work and in job hunting, as well as new case studies, examples, checklists, and questionnaires. Readers will discover how to:
- draft a networking plan
- cultivate current contacts
- make the most of memberships
- effectively exchange business cards
- avoid the top ten networking turn-offs
- share anecdotes that convey character and competence
- transform their careers with a networking makeover
Job-seekers, career-changers, entrepreneurs, and others will find all the networking help they need to supercharge their careers and boost their bottom lines
5. The 29% Solution: 52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies by Ivan R. Misner & Michelle R Donovan
From Amazon: In many ways, success at networking is the uncommon application of common knowledge. Most people understand that networking is important to their success?they just lack a step-by-step process to get the results they want. Almost no one really implements a comprehensive methodology that will build a business through networking. Thus, the need to network is “common knowledge,” and the development of the methodology required to be successful at it is the “uncommon application.”
By reading this book, you will experience the true essence and meaning of networking. The 29% Solution gives you the answers to two conflicting questions that a business owner or salesperson faces every day: How can I tend to my existing clients while at the same time network for new business? and, Should I place higher value on my current clients or on new clients?
6. Endless Referrals by Bob Burg
From Amazon: With over 100,000 copies sold, this is one of the most popular business- and sales-boosting guides ever written. This new edition offers successful entrepreneur and speaker Bob Burg’s proven relationship-building system that thousands of professionals and entrepreneurs have used to turn casual contacts into solid sales opportunities. In Endless Referrals, he shows you how to:
- Turn every contact into a sales opportunity
- Dramatically increase your business without spending more time or money
- Identify the most profitable contacts
- Use six keys to remember names and faces
- NEW SECTION! Network the Internet
- NEW SECTION! Set up a successful home-based business
- Take the intimidation out of telephoning
- Overcome fear of rejection
- NEW SECTIONS! Succeed in multi-level, network, and mail order marketing
- Position yourself as an expert
- Mark yourself for success!
7. Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You’ll Ever Need by Harvey Mackay
From Amazon: Bestselling author Harvey Mackay reveals his techniques for the most essential tool in business–networking, the indispensable art of building contacts.
Now in paperback, Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty is Harvey Mackay’s last word on how to get what you want from the world through networking. For everyone from the sales rep facing a career-making deal to the entrepreneur in search of capital, Dig Your Well explains how meeting these needs should be no more than a few calls away. This shrewdly practical book distills Mackay’s wisdom gleaned from years of “swimming with sharks,” including:
- What kinds of networks exist
- How to start a network, and how to wring the most from it
- The smart way to downsize your list–who to keep, who to dump
- How to keep track of favors done and favors owed–Is it my lunch or yours?
- What you can do if you are not good at small talk
8. The Greatest Networker in the World by John Milton Fogg
From Amazon: Network marketing is a burgeoning field, and it can be a frustrating and difficult experience. There are many who have achieved minimal success, and many more who have made no money at all. With these discouraging figures, how can one become a member of the successful elite? Millions agree that the best way to do this is to spend some time with The Greatest Networker in the World.
John Milton Fogg’s extended parable is the story of a young man on the verge of quitting the multilevel marketing business. As he prepares to give his final opportunity meeting, he meets the individual everyone refers to as The Greatest Networker in the World. This warm and wise man takes in his young counterpart and shows him the trade secrets so he too can become a successful network marketer.
The young man soon learns that the trade secrets have very little to do with conventional marketing techniques. In fact, he has to unlearn everything he thought he knew about business. “The paradigm of network marketing is so fundamentally different and distinct from all other paradigms of business, that it requires a pretty complete shift from the way we normally view business to appreciate and understand it.”
The new paradigm is built around one’s habits of thought and discovering that the secrets to network marketing success are within oneself. The values of responsibility, team building, and caring for one’s downline play a much more important role than competitive promotion and advertising.
A critical skill for all marketers is the ability to teach people to teach others. Once one has mastered the new paradigm of multilevel marketing, he needs to not only show his downline how to master it, but also how to teach those techniques to others. This leads to greater leadership within the organization, more stability, improved productivity, and as a result, long-lasting success.
9. Smart Networking: Attract a Following in Person and Online by Liz Lynch
From Amazon: The key to unlimited opportunities for your business starts with Smart Networking. This is the essential guidebook for building business relationships in a wired world. Business strategist Liz Lynch demystifies the process and puts strategic systems in place that build connections worldwide and attract opportunities 24/7.
Packed with powerful strategies tested by years of experience, as well as real-life stories from the field,Smart Networking describes how to integrate face-to-face techniques with a strong online presence. You’ll get low-cost marketing tools that are designed to expand your professional circle exponentially. Lynch will also help you to:
- Identify the gaps in your network and develop a plan to fill them
- Tap into existing contacts and master the art of the ask
- Increase visibility through speaking, e-zine publishing, and blogs
- Expand your reach with social networking tools
- Develop a winning mindset to guide all your networking activities
10. Networking for People Who Hate Networking: A Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed, and the Underconnected by Devora Zack
From Amazon: Devora Zack, an avowed introvert and a successful consultant who speaks to thousands of people every year, found that most networking advice books assume that to succeed you have to become an extrovert. Or at least learn how to fake it. Not at all. There is another way.
This book shatters stereotypes about people who dislike networking. They’re not shy or misanthropic. Rather, they tend to be reflective—they think before they talk. They focus intensely on a few things rather than broadly on a lot of things. And they need time alone to recharge. Because they’ve been told networking is all about small talk, big numbers and constant contact, they assume it’s not for them.
But it is! Zack politely examines and then smashes to tiny fragments the “dusty old rules” of standard networking advice. She shows how the very traits that ordinarily make people networking-averse can be harnessed to forge an approach that is just as effective as more traditional approaches, if not better. And she applies it to all kinds of situations, not just formal networking events. After all, as she says, life is just one big networking opportunity—a notion readers can now embrace.
11.. . . and Death Came Third!: The Definitive Guide to Networking and Speaking in Public
In 1984 a New York Times Survey on Social Anxiety placed death third in the list of people’s biggest fears. The top two responses were walking into a room full of strangers and speaking in public.
Facing these two fears head on, ‘…and death came third!’ rocketed straight to Number Two on the Amazon UK bestseller lists on publication of its First Edition in 2006. Since then thousands of people have turned to its pages to help them network and present with much more confidence.
Written by the renowned networker and connector Andy Lopata.