How to Network – Is Networking Important?
Do you ever get the feeling that no matter what you do or how you do it, it’s just not good enough, or not what people want? Maybe you just aren’t looking in the right place? If so, i’d say you need to start networking, get out there, tell people what you’re all about and how you can help them. Begin to network locally and then move further a field. Tell them what you have to offer and how it will benefit them, but don’t go heavy on the big sell. The idea of networking is to spread the word and build links.
The world it seems isn’t interested in people who want something from it. The world isn’t interested in whether you really wanted that job or not, or why you can’t get ahead in the business world, or why everyone else but you seems to be lucky ! The truth is? The world isn’t interested in takers, it’s interested in givers, people with passion, dedication and excitement. People who are willing to give rather than to take.
I learnt a valuable lesson from a friend of mine when I was younger. ‘Stop wanting and start giving’. I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about. What was the point in life if you wanted nothing and gave everything? At some point, you’d become financially and emotionally bankrupt and in my eyes that wasn’t the answer to a great life.
But that’s not what my friend meant. As we travelled down the path of life together for just for a few years, I came to understand what he meant. Life is about service and in the giving to others. Not in the taking from others or the ‘not caring about others’. To understand what people are really like and what they want we need to network.
So many of us are caught up in the rat race of materialism, so much so that we are unable to see what is important and we look down on those who have no see-able wealth.
Wealth isn’t about money, or status it’s about what you give and become as a person. If you give your whole and expect nothing in return everything you’ve ever wanted will come your way . . . eventually. And Business is no different. A valuable tip on how to become successful at networking is to be who you really are in business as in life and use every chance meeting as an opportunity to network. Don’t fake it.
I’m not one of those people that subscribe to fake it until you make it. I’m one of those people who says, ‘Show me’? Business likes those people who say show me? Tell me? Give it to me! Business likes those people who are successful, those people who never give up. Business likes those people who are genuine, who are givers, who are social, visible and those who help others. The easiest way to help others is to build links, who network and to help others in the process of helping yourself.
Those people, who build productive links, are not scared of letting go of control, of letting go of information, or of someone else steeling their ideas. Link builders build valuable networks and strong working relationships with other like-minded people and organisations. Business Networking is the way new business grows their business fast. Whether it is through the help of virtual assistants, life coaches, accountants or other business support organisations, building links costs nothing and aids the growth of more than one business.
Business networking is invaluable in starting and growing a business and is probably the most cost effective way of marketing. It’s a good way to build contacts and to gain loyal customers. Again, it’s also the perfect opportunity for you to create opportunities for others too.
Business networking offers a way to reach decision-makers which might otherwise be difficult or impossible to reach. It’s a way for you to make you, and who you know work for you.
The principles and techniques of business networking are mostly common sense. As long as you have an ounce of sense and a large vat of courage you’ll do well. Five of the top tips for building strong business networks are set out below:
Attend Industry Meetings – Often
You might be surprised to know that face-to-face meetings still go on. Yes, in every neighbourhood and every industry. Participating in meetings, conferences, and tradeshows is a great way to build strong relationships within your industry. Why not join your local Chamber of Commerce or Business Link and attend their meetings, to catch up with industry developments and build new contacts. Why not look for other ways to increase your visibility within your business community and on a wider basis. Sponsor community activities; get seen doing the right things in the right places by the right people. Show people you care, don’t sit back and wait for business to come your way, because it may not.
Seek Referrals – Always
Nervous? Then start off small. You have at least one or two customers who love your service or product? Ask them to refer a friend who would love your service or product. Sounds cheeky but it’s really not. Ask them to recommend people, take their details and offer a reward for the referral. Your customers almost certainly know colleagues like themselves who need your product or service. It is perfectly acceptable to ask for a referral and request permission to use their name as an introduction. Once your potential customer hears their friend’s name, you will have a much better chance of gaining their business.
Testimonials – Ask and Yee shall receive
Remember those customers who loved your product or service? The ones that gave you a referral? Ask them for a testimonial of your product or service as well. Your customers are your most important supporters. They will more than likely agree as they want you and your business to succeed, mainly because it reinforces their decision to use your product or service. Once you’ve secured the testimonial, post it on your website, on the back of your business cards, flyers, Facebook page and even Twitter. Anywhere you can get information published, publish it. Just make sure it’s a free avenue. You should also publish on other people’s sites to gain further coverage. Post on sites that would be interested in promoting your products. It’s not a difficult task it just needs a little bit of courage and a lot of cheek.
Blog – At least once a month
If you don’t already have one create one and quick. Everyone has one and for good reason too. Publishing a personal blog on your company website is a great way for your customers to get to know you, your business, your products and services. Blogs also allow comments which enables interaction. You can create new relationships and grow your business network this way too. Your Blog is a place where you can share stories that validate your expertise or position on a controversial topic. Plus it will generate traffic to your site if it has the right title and contains the right info i.e. Keywords. Search engines now identify keywords in blogs which should, if you have the right keywords generate traffic to your site. Woo hoo.
Be nice – I mean Social
You can grow your business network by using social media sites and apps, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. For business opportunities LinkedIn is by far the best media site. Before you jump into social media, you need to fully understand the medium, how it works, and how you can use it to benefit your business. LinkedIn is a great place to start and grow your business network. Twitter is a microblogging site that will complement your blog. You can even start up a Paperli newspaper from your Twitter feeds with no effort at all and send it to your subscribers.
Using a combination of dedication, commitment, tried-and-tested business development tactics along with new social media strategies, your business network will grow, as will your company. Take time out to learn how to build global links and how to market your product or service.
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