Networking for business is one of the most important strategies for building valuable relationships and making business connections that will stand the test of time. The connections that you make need to carry you and strategizing is essential for success.
The mystique of social networking
When it comes to networking for business, it seems as though there are generally two different schools of thought. People either love it or hate it. The people who love to network go along and are extremely successful at establishing new relationships and strengthening and maintaining already-existing relationships that they can take to the next level. On the other hand, people who hate to network (or, at the very least, consider it a painful chore), it is important for them to understand that there are several ways to approach networking and that many of those approaches are far less difficult (or painful) than they think. In fact, they may very well start to enjoy networking in spite of themselves.
The positive points of networking
Networking allows you to constantly expand your scope of valuable connections. The more valuable connections you have, the more relationships you will form with others and the more relationships you form, the better your chances of increasing your sales and becoming even more successful than you are presently. Social networking is dependent on successful relationships and there is no other way to gain the trust and credibility in the eyes of the other people without relating to each other on an emotional level as one human being to another. Networking should never be about going to a face-to-face meeting with a stack of business cards that you proceed to hand out and then just leave the meeting. Your right to hand out your business cards must be earned after you have established a connection with the other person. At that point, the other person needs to ask you for your card. You should be very careful about passing it to them too quickly. If you approach it without the emotional connection, that will most likely be the last conversation that you ever have with that person because you are not building a foundation to the relationship. Successful networking depends on a couple of simple principles:
- The ability to see things from the other person’s perspective.
- Using the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) philosophy. In other words, your only concern in that situation is figuring out a way to solve the other person’s problems. It should never be about how wonderful you and your business are.
There a a few steps that you should take if you want your networking to truly pay off on an ongoing basis.
- The day after your networking event: You should examine your outlook calendar for the last several months and identify a handful of people with whom you have spent the most time. You need to ask yourself if those relationships really work for you and your business.
- The week after your networking event: You should connect two people from the event who don’t know each other yet (of course, that is if you feel that their knowing each other would be mutually beneficial). After you have done that, you should think of a business associate with whom you would like to connect and ask one (or both) of those people to make an introduction for you.
- The month after your networking event: Think about a connection that you have with another business associate that you feel is not as strong as you would like it to be and make a gesture (such as forwarding some valuable content to them, for example). That gesture will probably have the effect of strengthening the bond that you have with that person and you will both be on your way to sharing a valuable and sustaining relationship.
Networking is a critical part of your marketing strategy and it is important that you get into the habit of interacting with other people effectively. It is an incredibly powerful tool because it enables you to broaden your sphere of influence. Relationships are always at the heart of your success. The sooner you stop regarding networking as a chore and start to view it as an important (and even pleasant) part of your overall strategy that will be extremely instrumental in your business’s success, the sooner you will be able to enjoy your accomplishments. Now is the time to take the opportunities that are at your fingertips. Your possibilities are limitless.
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Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications LLC. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies.
Mr. Cohn founded CompuKol Communications to help small businesses and entrepreneurs increase their exposure and reputation on the Internet. CompuKol consults, creates, and implements communication strategies for small businesses to monopolize their markets with a unique business voice, vision, and visibility.
Prior to that, Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. His expertise includes social media marketing strategies; internet marketing; web presence design; business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.
Mr. Cohn earned a Master’s degree in project management from George Washington University in Washington, DC; and a Master’s degree in computer science and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ.
Mr. Cohn is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
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