Turning Networking into a Pleasant Experience
Whether you like to network for your business or not, you still need to embrace the fact that it is absolutely necessary for your continued success. Not only do you need to network but you need to build your network with the most appropriate, relevant people as well.
Practice makes perfect
If you are just starting out in business (or you are just new to networking for your brand), you will need to understand that networking, although not always easy, is always necessary. If you think about it in the most basic of ways, the fact is that you wouldn’t be anywhere in your business without other people.
No matter what you are offering (product and/or service), you are still selling something. If you are not offering a product or service, you still need to sell yourself to other people. That is what everyone who is in business (whether for themselves or for others) is doing. Obviously, you can’t do that without someone on the other end buying what you are selling. It is simple.
At the heart of all successful business connections are the relationship itself between two people. People need to establish emotional/human connections so that they have some meaningful common ground. Without that connection, no relationship can prevail. Networking helps you to establish the human connection. There are several different ways to network. In-person and online networking can both be effective and you may want to try a combination of the two (with your own, personal balance) to see what works best for you and for your business.
Even though the motivation behind networking is to make progress in your business, the connections that you make are personal. At least, that is the basis of the connections. That concept applies to in-person as well as online networking. You have a story to tell. Everyone has a story to tell. In fact, you and everyone else have many stories to share. The chances are really great that other people can relate to your stories and you to theirs.
Reestablishing your networking skills
If you have told yourself that you are either not good at networking or that you just don’t want to do it, you need to banish that thought from your head. The question is not whether you need to network for business. The question is only how you are going to network. Part of the how is about frequency. You will want to make it your business to be consistent with your networking as far as frequency is concerned. You may find that a combination of in-person and online networking works well for you. However, you will need to do it every week. There may be some weeks in which there are more networking opportunities than other weeks. That is okay and it is to be expected.
When you do network, you need to do more than just say hello, shake hands, and give the other person your business card. You need to engage the other person and show some interest in what he or she does for a living and to tell him or her what you do. There is a strong possibility that the two of you may be able to connect on a deeper level by establishing some sort of strategic partnership. If you used to network and then stopped (for whatever reason), you should try to reconnect with the people you already know first. It is important to remember that there is a world of new connections for you to make as well.
Get comfortable in your own skin
When you first start networking, you may not be particularly comfortable with it. However, as an adult with a really good motivating reason to speak with other people (you and your business), you may need to force yourself to break the ice in the beginning. It will definitely get easier for you as you do it more often. You may be surprised at how many valuable connections you are able to establish through networking.
In general, people are probably willing to help you to connect with the right people if they are not the right people themselves. Networking is so valuable because you can make connections that you are not even aware that you have the potential to make. It is all about who knows whom.
Make the investment. It is worth it
No matter what you do, you will be making some sort of investment. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be spending money. You also have other valuable features that don’t cost you anything but that are just as valuable. Time and effort are two of those. As a business person, most likely you are extremely busy (at least, you want to be in that position). If that is the case, you don’t have too much time to devote to networking (or most things, for that matter). However, you need to make it a priority because it is that important.
Strive to become a connector for other people
You can wear several different hats when you are networking. In addition to meeting other people in order to help your business, you can also help other people to establish meaningful connections. Just like the concept of why you write content, you should consider it your first priority to help other people when you are networking. You can speak with other people and figure out exactly what you can do to help them. That might mean introducing them to people you know or doing something else to help.
Another important function of networking is to share meaningful interactions with other people. Because all human beings are different, they think differently. Those differences can lead to amazing, exciting, very valuable discussions.
Whether you like it or not, networking is necessary. Once you get over your initial discomfort (if you are uncomfortable), you will start to enjoy networking. It can definitely prove to be a pleasant, wonderful experience. If you always try to consider the other person and his or her needs first, you will be setting up your relationship to be solid and successful. The business networking connections that you make will be strong and enduring in many cases, which is exactly what you want to happen. Those kinds of relationships are generally mutually beneficial as well.
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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.
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