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Are You a Good Networker?

While some business people are natural networkers, good networking can be learned. Here are a few tips for enhancing your efforts.

 

If you're a business owner or a sales exec then networking is a part of your life - if not - it should be. After 21 years of owning my own business I've learned a few things about networking.

  1. Networking works. Every time I get out of the office and go to a networking meeting I either meet someone who can help me in some way, someone I can help, or I get a new idea that I can use in my business or for a client - it NEVER fails!  
  2. Be open to meeting new people, introduce yourself, don't stand in a corner with someone you already know. 
  3. Bring plenty of business cards but DON'T thrust them into everyone's hand without listening first.... which brings me to number 4. 
  4. Be a good listener. Don't just talk about yourself. Ask people who they are, what they do. Try to learn as much as you can about them first, then see if you can do something to help them, can you introduce them to someone? Do you have a resource they should know about? Helping others first before handing over your business card is a great way to be remembered. It's not just about talking, networking is about listening and connecting others.
  5. Write down on the back of each business card how you met each person when you get back to the office, what you promised to do for them or what you learned from them. 
  6. Add their card to your database for future use. If you use an Excel spreadsheet add a field for how you met the person - a note field.
  7. Consider using a CRM (Customer Reationship Management) software to track leads. Sugar CRM is one that is inexpensive and cloud based. 
  8. If you met someone that you believe could be beneficial to you or someone you can help, follow up with a phone call and schedule time to have coffee. Be sure to indicate why you are calling and remind them of how you met. Remember this is not just about selling your services but also seeing how you can help the other person. 
  9. If you enjoyed the group that you networked with, join it. Being a regular part of a group is good way to really get to know people, go to regular meetings, volunteer for positions and get on the board if you can. Involvement makes you more memorable to the folks in the group. 
  10. Finally, find out if you can speak to the group. Is there a topic that you can shed light on? Is there information that you can share that will be beneficial to all? Not a sales speech about you, but information about your industry that can help them run their business better. Speaking is a super way to gain clients. 

While some people seem to be better natural networkers than others, good networking can be learned. I have met many people over the years who are brilliant at it and others who are awful. Those who think that simply giving their business card to everyone they meet don't understand that the best networking comes from listening as well as talking.

Get better at it by practicing! Go to as many meetings as you can and meet new people. It will most certainly pay off.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Risa Hoag June 05, 2012 at 10:29 AM
Want to test out your networking skills? Come to a BNI meeting. We meet Wednesday mornings at City Line Diner in New City at 7am. You will be my guest.
Smitty Chesterfield June 05, 2012 at 02:06 PM
And what is BNI?
Risa Hoag June 05, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Hi, BNI stands for Business Network International. BNI is the largest business networking organization in the world. They offer members the opportunity to share ideas, contacts and most importantly, business referrals. There are groups all over the world, but the goal is local business networking.
Smitty Chesterfield June 05, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Interesting. I plan on starting a business in which I will design bird houses that look like the homeowner's house. I wonder if this would be a beneficial organization for me to join.
Risa Hoag June 05, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Hi, well, you never know! You are welcome to attend as my guest any Wednesday morning. I look forward to meeting you (and I would LOVE to have one of those bird houses!!) Where are you based?
Joanie Sirefman June 06, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Thanks for posting Risa! Especially when it comes to follow up; too many just don't!
Rebekah Shackney June 07, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Interesting post, Risa! I'd love to take you up on the invitation sometime! Thanks again!
Risa Hoag June 07, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Hi Rebekah and Joanie. We have a fabulous BNI group. A lot of very fun people that also enjoy doing business together. I look forward to going every week. And a lot of business gets done. Anyone is welcome to attend as my guest. You can email me directly at risa@gmgpr.com and let me know when you would like to attend, free on me!
Jackie Cassagnol, RN, MSN, PMC June 07, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Great post, Risa!
Arlene Levine June 09, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Risa, Great article! Wish I could make it to your meetings! Arlene
Risa Hoag April 15, 2013 at 07:37 PM
Two meetings coming up folks! April 18th at Jimmy's on Main for the Nanuet Chamber of Commerce - come network with local business people and hear an update on the Shops at Nanuet AND May 6th also at Jimmy's the BNI Phoenix Chapter will introduce people to BNI and how it can have a positive impact on your bottom line. Come learn why this chapter is one of the most successful (and fun!) in our area! RSVP to risa@gmgpr.com

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