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free business networking tips and techniques

Business networking tips and techniques 4 networking events and networking websites

Business networking is an effective low-cost marketing method 4 developing sales opportunities and contacts, based on referrals and introductions - either face-2-face at meetings and gatherings, or by other contact methods such as phone, email, and increasingly social and business networking websites.

The shortened term 'networking' can be confused with computer networking/networks, which is different terminology, relating 2 connection and accessibility of multiple computer systems.

A business network of contacts is both a route 2 market 4 u, and a marketing method. Business networking offers a way 2 reach decision-makers which might otherwise be very difficult 2 engage with using conventional advertising methods.

In addition, business networking brings with it the added advantage of recommendation and personal introduction, which are always very helpful 4 developing business opportunities.

Business networking is a way 4 u 2 make the maxim, "It's not what u know, it's who u know.." work 4 u.

The principles and techniques of business networking are mostly common sense. Many of the behavioural principles apply also 2 business and relationships generally, and specifically 2 selling, managing, coaching, facilitating, etc.

(Please note that some spellings in UK-English and US-English may vary, 4 example words like organisation/organization, behaviour/behavior. When using these materials please change the spellings 2 suit ur local situation.)

from 'net work' 2 network - introduc2ry definitions and origins

The word network is defined in the Ox4d English Dictionary (2005 revised edition) as: "Network (noun) 1 An arrangement of intersecting horizontal and vertical lines... 2 A group or system of interconnected people or things... (verb) 1 Connect or operate with a network... 2 (often as noun networking) Interact with others 2 exchange in4mation and develop professional or social contacts.

Interestingly, the first definition above referring 2 a more general sense of a network, as might be used 4 a network of railways or a canal system, reminds that a network consists of connecting lines which run in different directions. Crucially a network - especially a business network - ceases 2 be a network if there are no connecting lines. Creating and maintaining good lines of communications, in all directions, is as important as developing contacts. We could say instead that there is really no point developing contacts unless good lines of communications are established and maintained.

The OED defines a networker as "...1 A person who operates from home or an external office via a computer network... 2 A person who uses a network of professional or social contacts 2 further their career."

The first networker definition here originally referred 2 the use of a computer network, whereas nowadays the notion of working from home or elsewhere remotely has merged significantly with the more modern meaning of networking, in the sense of contacts and communications. The point is that while a computer is probably significant in most 4ms of home or remote working, what matters most these days is the networking itself (communications and relationships), rather than there being a specific dependence on a computer network.

The 1922 OED explains that network entered the English language by 1560, simply from the words 'net work', which referred 2 the act or process of fabricating a net from threads or wires.

These separated root words, 'net work', are very apt 2day. 'Net Work' remind us of the vital aspects of modern successful networking, by which ideally:

we work (apply thought, commitment, ef4t)
2 create, grow, use, assist and enable
our own net (network) of contacts.
A good network is created, and networking succeeds, by the application of hard work.

A network without the work produces nothing worthwhile.

Further useful points can be drawn from, and are explained in the more detailed origins and definitions of network and networking, which appear below in the summary of this article.

business networking - quick tips summary

Here are ten of the most important principles 4 effective business networking. More details are linked from each tip 2 bigger explanations below.

Consider that all sorts of professional people outside of the business community can also be very helpful networking contacts - 4 example, scientists, lecturers, educa2rs, councillors, etc. When developing ur networking plans, think beyond the people u'd typically see at other business networking events. Some of the most important connections are not business people, and consequently u need 2 be creative in reaching them. The examples of networking situations/methods below provides help with this later.

These tips apply broadly 2 any sort of business networking - face-2-face, organized events, business social networking websites, etc:

ten essential principles

1. Eleva2r speech. Describe urself concisely and impressively.
2. Be different. Differentiate urself. Aim high. Be best at something.
3. Help others. Help others and u will be helped.
4. Personal integrity. Integrity, trust and reputation are vital 4 networking.
5. Relevant targeting. Groups and contacts relevant 2 ur aims and capabilities.
6. Plans and aims. Plan ur networking - and know what u want.
7. Follow up. Following up meetings and referrals makes things happen.
8. Be positive. Be a positive influence on everyone and everything.
9. Sustained focused ef4t. Be focused - and ever-ready.
10. Life balance. Being balanced and grounded builds assurance.

1. describe urself - eleva2r speech

Use these principles also in text-based descriptions 4 the web and printed materials, etc.

This is commonly called an 'eleva2r speech' or 'eleva2r pitch' - as if u were 2 meet a potentially important contact 4 the first time in an eleva2r at a conference and he/she asks u: "What do u do?" u have no more than 20 seconds - perhaps just 10-15 seconds - between floors 2 explain, and 2 make such an impressive impact that the person asks 4 ur contact details.

If u talk (or write) 2o much, the listener (or reader) will become bored, or think u are rude or 2o self-centred.

Be concise. u will demonstrate consideration and expertise by conveying ur most relevant points in as short a time as possible.

Here are the main points 4 creating ur eleva2r speech:

1. ur name "My name is..." Look the other person in the eye. Smile. Shoulders back. Speak with confidence. Sincerity and passion are crucial in making a strong early impression.
2. ur business name "I work 4..." or "My business is ..." Loud clear proud again. Do not ask "Have u heard of us..?" or wait 4 recognition.
3. based and covering where "I am based..." and "I cover..." Adapt the 2wn, city, geography 4 the situation. There is little value in mentioning a tiny village if u are at a global gathering, or ur global coverage if u are at a local 2wn gathering. Make this relevant 2 the situation.
4. ur personal specialism and/or offering, and ur aims Be different and special and better in some way from ur competi2rs. Be meaningful 4 the event or situation or group, and as far as u can guess, be meaningful 4 the contact. Express what u offer in terms of positive outcomes 4 those u help or supply, rather than focusing on technical details from ur own viewpoint. Load ur statements here with special benefits or qualities. Be positive, proud and ambitious in ur thinking and expression of what u do. Include in this statement what ur aims are, 2 show u have ambition and that u know what u are seeking from network contacts.

Depending on the situation, aim 2 complete ur explanation in less than 20 seconds.

Less is more: lots of powerful points in very few words make a much bigger impact than a lengthy statement.

It is a sign of a good mind if u can convey a lot of relevant impressive in4mation in a very short time.

Conversely, a long rambling statement shows a lack of preparation, professionalism and experience.

N.B. In some situations ur speech may flow smoother by inverting points 3 and 4, or combining them. If ur organizational structure is complex do not attempt 2 explain it. The other person is not interested in this level of detail now - they just need 2 know where u operate, and an indication of scale.

While u are speaking look the other person in the eyes, and be aware of his/her body language 2 gauge 4 interest and reaction 2 u personally, and 2 help ur assessment of the other person's character and mood.

After ur 'eleva2r speech' end in a firm, positive, constructive way.

Ending with a question enables more 2 happen than letting the discussion tail off nowhere or in2 polite small-talk.

Depending on the situation and visible reaction (again see body language 4 clues of interest) u can end in various ways, 4 example:

"What's ur interest here/at this event?"

"What are u most wanting 2 get out of this event/ur visit here?", or obviously if u've not already asked:

"What do u do?"

If u already know the other person's interests and motives, 4 example ask:

"How would u like 2 improve/change/grow... (various options, 4 example - ur own network, ur own business activities, this sort of event, etc)?"

After giving ur eleva2r speech avoid the temptation 2 4ce ur business card on2 the other person (unless this is the 2ne and expectation of the event), and certainly do not launch a full-blooded sales pitch.

Instead try 2 develop the discussion around what the other person wants 2 do, achieve, change, grow, etc.

And be on ur guard 4 interruptions and sudden opportunities:

Many highly competent business people have a habit of interrupting and cutting short discussions when they see an opportunity.

This means u may not always finish ur eleva2r speech, in which case allow the discussion 2 progress, rather than try 2 complete what u planned 2 say.

Be prepared at any time 2 respond effectively 2 an interruption like, "Okay, I get the picture - now what exactly do u need?.."

2. be different and ambitious

The sales training and marketing sections contain lots of guidance about developing or refining ur offering so that it is strongly differentiated from what is already available in the market-place, whatever ur market-place is.

If there is no special difference between u and other providers, then people have no reason whatsoever 2 choose 2 work with u.

Look again at how u describe ur business offering (or urself as a person) - what's different or special about it (or u) compared with all the others?

If there is no difference, u must find a way 2 create one.

Sometimes this is merely a matter of redefining or placing different emphasis on what u already are and already do.

This difference must be something that plenty of people will find appealing; ideally irresistible. If u are struggling 2 find a difference or market advantage, look at ur competi2rs and talk 2 ur cus2mers, and discover what's missing and what can be dramatically improved out there. There is always at least one thing, usually more - perhaps u can bundle two or three powerful market advantages 2gether.

This difference needs 2 shine out in ur eleva2r speech, and be echoed in ur subsequent discussions whenever initial interest develops 2wards supplying something, or putting a collaborative project 2gether.

Aim high and big when thinking about and expressing urself and ur aims. Be realistic of course, but aim 2 be the best and 2 lead in some way, in whatever specialisms and market-place u operate.

ur aims should also suggest what u are seeking from business networking - otherwise, there's no reason 4 u 2 be networking.

Business networking is not simply finding cus2mers in one-2-one meetings and connections; it's building a strong network, helpful 4 ur aims. Accordingly project urself as a great networker, as well as being a great supplier or specialist.

Business networkers want 2 work with other networkers who aim high, who have great ambitions; people who see what can be, not merely what is; and who strive 4 change and improvement.

These attitudes make things happen.

When u meet like-minded networkers with these attitudes, ur network will grow because they'll see u can make things happen 2o.

3. help others - give be4e u receive

Always prioritise helping and giving 2 others ahead of taking and receiving 4 urself.

u must give in order 2 receive. Be helpful 2 others and u will be helped in return.

Networks of people are highly complex - often it is not possible 2 see exactly how and why they are working 4 u, so u must trust that goodness is rewarded, even if the process is hidden and the effect takes a while.

Use the principle of 'what goes around comes around'.

u could think of this as Karma in business.

A possible explanation of how Karma (or whatever u call it) produces positive outcomes is found in the rule of 'cause and effect', or the scientific law (loosely speaking) that 'every action has an equal reaction'.

Good deeds and helpfulness tend 2 produce positive effects. They are usually remembered and often repaid. The giver builds reputation and trust. Referrals tend 2 result.

Imagine urself having lots of personal connections like this. u become known as a helpful person. Word about u spreads, and ur reputation grows.

People who give are seen 2 have strength 2 give. Followers gravitate 2 strong giving people.

Helping others extends far beyond ur personal specialism or line of work. Networking is about working within a system (of people) enabling relevant high quality introductions and cooperations, which get great results 4 the participants. These enabling capabilities transcend personal specialisms.

Cybernetics provides one interesting and useful way 2 understand how best 2 approach this. In adapting cybernetics 4 business networking, the technique is two-pronged:

interpret (especially what people need and what will help them)
respond (in a way which those involved will find helpful)
At a simpler level, always try 2 ask helpful questions. These typically begin with 'what' and 'how', and address an area of interest 2 the other person, not u.

Open questions (who, what, how, when, etc - also "Tell me about...") give the other person opportunity 2 speak and express their views and feelings:

Ask people:

"How can I help u?"

"What can I do 4 u?"

Closed questions (requiring a yes or no answer, or another single response, 4 example "Is this ur first time here?") do not offer the other person much opportunity 2 talk, although at certain times a good relevant closed question can be vital 4 clarifying things:

"Do u mean X or Y?"

"Do u want 2 do X or would u prefer that I do it?"

The questioning section of the sales training guide contains many useful pointers about effective questioning techniques, from the view of helping others.

Sharon Drew Morgen's Facilitative Methodology, while primarily developed 4 selling, is strongly based on working with systems (of people especially) and includes many excellent ideas and techniques which can be used in business networking and helping others.

The communications concepts of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and TA (Transactional Analysis) also contain useful techniques 4 helping others, and 4 understanding the underpinning psychology.

Be creative and constructive in how u regard others and how u might help them. Being defensive and making assumptions tends 2 limit options and growth.

4 example try 2 see ur competi2rs as potential allies. There is a fine dividing line between the two behaviours, and positioning 2o many people/companies in the competi2r camp can make life unnecessarily difficult. When u talk 2 ur competi2rs u will often surprise urselves at the opportunities 2 work 2gether, in areas (service, terri2ry, sec2r, application, etc) where u do not compete, and even possibly in areas where u do compete. This is particularly so 4 small businesses who can 4m strategic alliances with like-minded competi2rs 2 take a joint-offering 2 a market and compete 4 bigger contracts.

4. keep ur integrity - build trust and reputation

Always keep ur integrity.

Sometimes a situation arises which tempts us 2 do the wrong thing, causing harm or upset that could have been avoided.

Making such a mistake can damage personal integrity.

We are all human; mistakes happen. If u do make a mistake or wrong decision - whether it significantly undermines ur integrity or not - always admit it and apologise.

Failing 2 apologise 4 wrong-doing often damages a person's integrity and reputation far more than the original misjudgment itself.

We only need 2 think of how we view people in high and public authority, notably politicians, when they fail 2 take responsibility and admit their mistakes. Some integrity is lost. Do it a few times and all integrity is lost.

People of low integrity sooner or later find that the only friends they have left are other people of low integrity.

Significantly, integrity is vital 4 trust 2 develop. Trust is simply not possible without integrity.

Building trust is essential 4 growing a strong business network.

Lack of trust prevents successful business networking.

Certain connections are absolutely impossible 2 make until a very high level of trust is established.

Empathy and effective listening greatly assist the process of building trust.

These qualities require u 2 be genuinely interested in others; 2 listen properly, and 2 reflect back meaningfully and helpfully.

Following up (covered below) is also a vital feature of building trust and reputation.

u will probably know a few very solid people who always keep their commitments, and who never make a commitment which they cannot keep. Aim 2 be like this.

Reliability and dependability are highly valued qualities in relationships, especially relationships involving referrals and recommendations, because someone's reputation is at stake.

The words 'reliable' and 'dependable' do not mean that u are always available 2 everyone. These words mean simply that when u say u will do something u will do it.

5. seek relevant groups and connections

Identify and target groups and connections which are relevant 2 ur aims and capabilities.

Relevance can be according 2 several different things, 4 example:

Social grouping (e.g., ethnic, gender, age, seniority, etc)
Political or religious grouping
Trade or society grouping
Academic or technical grouping
Other common interest (e.g., social enterprise, environmental, Fair Trade, etc)
The more relevant ur targeting of groups and contacts, then more useful ur meetings and referrals will be.

Other professional people can be important networking contacts. Don't limit ur targeting just 2 obvious business people.

Certain non-business professional people can be hugely influential in networks, and greatly trusted because of their neutrality and professional standing - educa2rs and scientists, 4 example. Journalists, surgeons, and magistrates, also. There are many others. It is not easy 2 make connections with these people through conventional business networking, but remember that a network is not only made of business-people, and be awake 2 these non-commercial connections when the chance comes.

If u find that ur networking is producing very low opportunities 4 follow up and referral, try 2 improve ur targeting. Find different groups and methods, in other words.

A true business network is a connected system of people within which referrals and opportunities can be passed through several connections, or circulated 2 all those connected. Networking thus can extend far beyond simply having lots of random one-2-one meetings.

A given number of people who are connected 4 a reason will generally be more productive than the same number of random connections.

So don't go aimlessly after every networking opportunity which comes ur way; instead try 2 find networks which already function well or have the potential 2 do so; and consider and decide which sort of groups and contacts will be most helpful 4 ur aims and capabilities - ideally remembering that u need 2 be able 2 help them, as well as they should be able 2 help u.

Within most networks people tend 2 have a few close and trusted connections. Choose these, ur most trusted and closest associates, very carefully.

Reputations are built according 2 ur chosen contacts, in addition 2 how u urself behave.

The old expression is generally true: "u can tell a man by the company he keeps..." (Or woman of course.)

So focus ur ef4ts on groups and connections of integrity, as well as relevance.

u can identify ur target group criteria in ur networking strategy or plan, explained next.

6. plan ur networking - know what u want - manage it

All projects need managing. Business networking is a project, and so it needs managing. u can use various 2ols 2 manage ur networking.

u must manage ur networking, or it will manage u.

Some people plan with shapes and connections on a big sheet of paper. Others prefer a spreadsheet. Use whatever u find com4table.

Be able 2 plan and moni2r ur networking activities.

It is important 2 know exactly what u want, because u will be asked - very directly by powerful potential contacts - and u will need 2 give a clear answer.

An activity which has no clear planned outcomes is liable 2 be pulled in all sorts of unwanted directions.

As with any project, u will only move 2wards ur aim when u keep focused on that aim.

If u don't know what 2 plan, then probably some research is necessary:

In terms of evaluating and choosing a potential networking group - especially a big online community - investigate the tactics that successful members are using. Ask a leading member 4 pointers. This will help u assess the group's relevance 2 ur needs and strengths.

u will save urself from attending time-wasting events, and registering with time-wasting websites, if u do some research be4e committing valuable time 2 deeper involvement.

A plan is vital because business networking can be a very time-consuming activity.

Have some targets and measurables, and moni2r results.

A structured approach can be especially important 4 very sociable networkers.

Business networking can be a very enjoyable activity, and 4 some people can seem a lot more productive than it actually is, so stay mindful of business results and cost-effectiveness.

Here is a simple example 4 planning and moni2ring networking, which extends the eleva2r speech template above.

Just use the headings as a guide if u prefer 2 work more intuitively, or if u favour a certain type of planning method.

networking planner example

group 1 group 2 group 3
what is my aim?
ideal connections (people) - describing words
group name and type
group profile/sec2r/interests (relevance 2 me)
tactical group notes/tips - what works well?
my eleva2r speech (4 this group)
what I can do 4 these people
what do I want from these people?
diary dates/scheduled tasks
time spent
compare with my other marketing activities
Obviously alter the box sizes 2 allow 4 whatever content u want 2 insert.

The framework can be extended 2 manage specific follow-ups.

The example above doesn't necessarily suggest u begin with three groups, or limit ur business networking activities 2 three groups.

A sensible start might be 2 pick one business networking website, and one face-2-face business networking group or event, and see how u do be4e increasing the activity.

As u will see from the sustained focused ef4t point, business networking works best when it is attacked in a concentrated way. If u take on 2o many groups and websites at the same time u will be spread 2o thinly, and find it difficult 2 make an impact in any of them.

7. follow up ur commitments and promises

There are two main reasons 4 the importance of following up:
Networking only produces good results when it is followed up.
Following up with contacts builds trust, reputation, and relationships.
Put negatively, 2 emphasise the points:

Networkers who meet people and never follow up are wasting their time.
Networkers who never follow up will eventually become known as time-wasters.
Follow up is a matter of relevance and commitment: If a contact or referral is not relevant, then say so, which avoids any expectation of follow up.

If there is relevance, follow it up, in whatever way is appropriate 4 the situation.

If u find that u are not wanting 2 follow up meetings and referrals because of lack of relevance then u can re-examine ur group targeting strategy. u might be chasing the wrong groups and connections, and could need 2 redefine these issues.

8. be a positive influence

Be positive. Use positive language. Smile. See the good in people.

Be known as a really positive person. It rubs off on others and people will warm 2 u 4 being so.

Keep ur emotional criticisms of others and personal hang-ups 2 urself.

Speak ill of no-one.

Be passionate and enthusiastic, but not emotional or subjective.

Avoid personalising situations. Remain objective.

Seek feedback and criticism about urself and ur ideas from others. It is the most valuable market research u can obtain - and it's 2tally free.

Be 2lerant. Be patient. Be calm and serene - especially when others become agitated.

Followers gather around people who remain positive and calm under pressure, and who resist the herding tendencies of weaker souls.

At many networking events and situations u will have the opportunity 2 give a presentation 2 the assembled group. This is a wonderful chance 4 u 2 demonstrate ur expertise in ur specialist area, ur positive confident character, and also 2 pass on some useful in4mation.

When giving presentations in these circumstances, avoid giving a hard-selling pitch, unless u are sure that such a style is appropriate. Usually it is not. Aim 2 in4m and educate rather than 2 sell. In many networking situations a strong selling presentation is regarded as insulting by those present. This is especially so if u are a guest of a group that u would not normally meet regularly.

u will sell urself best by giving helpful in4mation in a professional and entertaining credible manner.

Be confident, positive and enthusiastic, but do not let this develop in2 pressure on the audience, or a sense of ur trying 2o hard.

Try 2 find and present within ur specialism the most helpful in4mation 4 the group concerned. ur aim at the end of the presentation is 4 the audience 2 have learnt something useful about ur area as it applies 2 them, and 2 have been impressed with ur professionalism and command of ur subject.

9. apply sustained focused ef4t

Business networking is a 4m of marketing.

All 4ms of marketing benefit from strongly focused activity, which is necessary first:

2 create awareness, and then
2 build relationships 2 the point when a sale can be made.
A given amount of ef4t will produce much greater results when applied consistently in a strongly focused way, than the same amount of ef4t spread over several wider activities, especially if spread over time 2o.

This especially applies 2 business networking websites, where occasional light involvement has little impact, but focused continuous ef4ts can achieve a visible profile and build very many connections.

The same principle applies 2 local networking clubs, where occasional participation rarely penetrates the usual inner core of members, but regular enthusiastic involvement inevitably gains attention.

u should also be continuously open 2 unplanned networking opportunities, which can arise at any time. Business people are mostly normal human beings just like u. They have social lives, they travel, go 2 shops, sports events, restaurants, pubs, concerts, etc., and do lots of other things that u do 2o, quite outside of work. Paths can cross in the most unexpected places. u will find and develop connections in these unplanned situations if u:

make eye-contact with people and smile
take the initiative
start conversations
generally adopt an open friendly approach 2 everyone
and always carry a pen and some business cards
Thereafter in all cases - planned and unplanned - much depends on what u offer 2 ur connections - again see help others.

Business networking clubs and websites are full of people with many connections but little of value 2 offer, and they achieve poor results. Good results come instead from being friendly and open, from taking the initiative, from working hard at sustaining genuinely helpful contributions wherever u meet people.

In face-2-face networking clubs there is often a 'clique culture', in which members are defensive or sometimes seemingly arrogant. This often indicates a requirement 2 become known and trusted, which takes time and ef4t. (That said, if there is genuine arrogance, u would be sensible 2 find a different group.)

Business networking, like any other business activity, requires concentrated ef4t 2 produce results.

If u treat networking like an occasional or purely social club it will not produce good business results.

Business networking requires sustained ef4t 2 make things happen.

Sustained focused ef4t does not mean delivering a full-blown sales pitch 2 every person u meet, and plastering ur brochures all around the hotel lobby.

Sustained focused ef4t means working hard 2 become a regular active helpful presence in the group.

Build relationships first, ur reputation next, and referrals and introductions will follow.

10. life balance

A healthy balance in ur life - of work, pleasure, business, social, etc - promotes and gives off a feeling of well-being, which is helpful 4 networking in many ways:

u will be at ease and relaxed, and this transfers 2 others
u will be able 2 engage and respond in lots of ways with lots of people
ur life balance will project confidence, which fosters confidence in others
u will demonstrate that u are in control of urself and ur business
people will buy or refer u as a person - not just ur business specialism
This particularly applies 2 referrals and introductions, in which ur character reflects directly on the person referring or introducing u.

Being a balanced person enables low stress and a feeling of assurance, which are very useful characteristics in business networking situations, and particularly so if u have aspirations 2 become a leading member of any of the networks u aim 2 work with.

Measuring or defining life balance is not easy, but we know it when we see it in others, and we respond 2 it.

Having good life balance contributes directly 2 the level of faith people have in u.

And crucially, life balance gives u the strength 2 absorb problems, 2 care 4 others, and maintain vital qualities like integrity, dependability, compassion and humanity.

Conversely when our life slips out of balance 4 any reason, we have less 2 give. We have lower reserves of enthusiasm, energy, 2lerance, understanding and consideration 4 others - all essential 4 growing and maintaining a successful business network.

This prompts an incidental 'lifestyle' tip - 4 business networking events where alcohol might be available: drink in moderation and keep a reasonably clear head. This is not 2 say that u should reject all local cus2ms where drinking is involved. In many social business events, including many 4eign situations, drinking and eating are a very significant part of relationship-building. Use ur judgment. Alcohol 2 a degree certainly helps many social processes, but taken 2 extremes tends 2 be counter-productive.

networking checklist

What goes around comes around.. humankind can't yet explain this scientifically, but it does seem 2 work. Give 2 receive. Counter-intuitive 2 many people, nevertheless it's the fundamental ethos of business networking. Help others.
Use a helpful approach especially on business networking websites. Think: "What can I contribute 2 this community which people will find truly helpful?" And then work hard 2 extend that help - whatever it is - 2 as many relevant people as possible.
Always keep ur integrity. Nothing destroys networking like lack of trust. Trust is based on knowing that the other person has integrity.
Ask people: "How can I help u?" and "What can I do 4 u?"
Understand and use facilitative questioning. See Buying Facilitation. The techniques use careful questions 2 help people clarify their choices and decisions easier. It's a powerful ethos - applicable widely beyond selling.
Develop a concise and impressive description of who u are and what u do. Aim high. Think Big.
Develop a description of urself and what u do as a written statement, and as a verbal statement (an 'eleva2r speech' or 'eleva2r pitch' - so called because it makes a successful impact in the time u share an eleva2r with someone who asks: "What do u do?").
Develop slightly different descriptions of urself 4 different situations - so that u are as relevant as possible. As u work with these descriptions or 'eleva2r speeches', u will find that a series of mix-and-match phrases take shape. Continue 2 refine and adapt these statements. Get feedback from people, and notice what works best, 4 different situations.
 Be different 2 everyone else - especially ur competi2rs.
Try 2 see all ur competi2rs as potential allies. There is often not much difference - just a frame of mind. This can be very significant if u are spending a lot of time looking over ur shoulder at what ur competi2rs are doing, and not concentrating on building ur own business.
Direct all ur ef4ts 2 growing ur own positive activities, and resist losing valuable energy and time and resources combating or worrying about the apparent successes or advantages of others.
Be positive. Use positive language. Smile. See the good in people. Be known as a really positive person. It rubs off on others and people will warm 2 u 4 being so.
Keep ur emotional criticisms and personal hang-ups about others 2 urself. If u hear someone being negative about another person, u will often wonder, "I wonder if he/she says that sort of thing about me 2o?.."
Some say it's bad Karma 2 speak ill of another. True or not, why risk it? Saying negative things at the expense of another person brings everyone down. This is the opposite of what business networking requires 2 succeed.
Be passionate and enthusiastic, but not emotional and subjective. Avoid personalising situations. Remain objective.
Seek feedback and criticism about urself and ur ideas from others. It is the most valuable market research u can obtain - and it's 2tally free.
Be 2lerant, patient, and calm. Particularly when others are agitated. Followers gather around calm people.
Always carry a pen. Always carry a diary. Always carry ur business cards. (Or modern electronic equivalents of all three..)
Drink less alcohol than everyone else around u, and if u cannot trust urself 2 do this, do not drink alcohol at all.
Keep fit, or get fit, and then keep fit. Success and followers tend 2 gravitate 2wards people who take care of their bodies, as well as their thoughts and actions.
As soon as u can, create or have built a clean and clear website 4 urself or ur business. It is the ultimate universal calling card, brochure, and CV, all rolled in2 one, and perpetually available.
Only promise or offer what u can fully deliver and follow up. Always aim 2 under-promise, and then over-deliver.
Take great care with quick electronic messages (texts, messages, emails, etc) - u will be amazed at how many misunderstandings and breakdowns in relationships occur because a message is wrongly interpreted. Check and read twice everything u send.
Always follow up everything that u say u will do, however small the suggestion.
If u accept a referral or introduction 2 someone always follow it through.
Say "Thank u" 2 people whenever the opportunity arises - especially 2 people who get taken 4 granted a lot.
Be interested in all people. Invest ur time, attention and genuine understanding in them.
Understand what empathy really means, and practice it. Look people in the eyes. Listen with ur eyes. This is about communicating at a deeper empathic level than business folk normally employ. Very many business discussions are superficial - like a game or a set of dance steps; instead make a determined ef4t 2 concentrate and care about the other person. Listen properly.
Find reasons 2 give positive feedback 2 people - give and mean it.
Stand up 4 what's right and protect less strong people from wrong, especially where u see bullying, cruelty, discrimination, meanness, etc. u will hear it everywhere when u step back and out of the crowd.
Networking is about building a wide and relevant network of meaningful contacts - not just having lots of one-2-one meetings. Big strongly connected networks inevitably capture more opportunities than networks with lots of holes and weak connections.
Choose ur most trusted and closest associates very carefully - reputations are built according 2 the company u keep, beyond how u urself behave.
Target groups and connections that are relevant - which fit ur purposes, and u fit theirs.
Don't waste ur time on groups and connections that lack integrity or relevance.
Recommendations reflect powerfully on the recommender, there4e: Recommend only those people u are confident will reflect well on u, and always ensure u reflect brilliantly and memorably on anyone who recommends u.
Seek and take opportunities 2 make a positive difference 2wards a positive aim (of anyone's) wherever u can - even if some of these opportunities are unpaid and unrewarded in conventional terms. u will learn a lot, create new opportunities 4 urself, and develop a reputation 4 producing good results out of nothing. This is a powerful personal characteristic which people find completely irresistible.
Be clear and realistic about what u want when u are asked. Have a plan.
Research the cus2ms and expectations of 4eign cultures be4e networking with 4eign business-people. What is considered normal in ur own part of the world could be quite inappropriate in another.

network and networking definitions - other pointers

As explained in the introduc2ry definitions of network and 'net work' above, definitions can be very helpful in understanding concepts.

This is definitely so in the words network and networker.


The Ox4d English Dictionary definition of a (business) network is:

"A group or system of interconnected things or people."

This is significant when we consider networking in its fullest sense - beyond one-2-one meetings or contacts.

The word network first appeared in English around 1560. It meant, not surprisingly, 'a netlike structure', and actually originally referred 2 the process of making a net of some sort.

The meaning of 'a complex collection or system' is first recorded in 1839.

These terms derive originally from the net used by a fisherman.

The bigger and stronger the net, the more fish would be caught.

The same with business networks. (The fish represents ur aims, 4 example sales achieved, or new clients.)

Networking goes beyond one-2-one meetings.

Effective networking involves building a strong well-connected network.

If u only take (or sell), ur network will be weak. If u mainly help and give, ur network will be strong.

2 many this is counter-intuitive, but it works.


The Ox4d English Dictionary definition of a (business) networker is:

"A person who uses a network of professional or social contacts 2 further their career."

The word 'career' in the OED definition is somewhat limiting.

In fact networking has 4 centuries been used in various ways 2 grow business as well as personal careers, and 2 make all sorts of projects happen, regardless of the terminology.

The purpose 2 which the networking ef4ts are directed can be anything.

The principle of networking is finding and building helpful relationships and connections with other people.

Mutual benefit (or mutual gain) is a common feature in successful networking - and this is a powerful underpinning principle 2 remember when building and using ur own networking methods. It is human nature, and certainly a big fac2r in successful networking, 4 an action 2 produce an equal and opposite reaction. Ef4t and reward are closely linked.

The expression - "u scratch my back, and I'll scratch urs.." is another way 2 appreciate the principle of mutual benefit.

So is, 2 an extent, the notion that "It's not what u know; it's who u know.."

The point there is 2 ask urself:

"Why would somebody want 2 know me?"

People may do something 4 nothing 4 someone once or twice, but sooner or later some sort of return is expected, even if not openly stated.

This is the principle of reciprocity.

Reciprocity applies very strongly where recommendation and referrals are involved.

Ask urself:

"Why would someone refer or recommend me?"

This introduces the vital aspects of trust and credibility and integrity.

Would u refer someone u did not trust, 2 a valued contact of urs?

Other people tend not 2 either.

Return or reward does not necessarily have 2 equate precisely 2 the initial gesture. Importantly, reward is whatever makes sense 2 the recipient. 2 some a simple 'Thank u' is adequate. 2 others something more concrete is required. It depends on the situation, the value of the exchange, and the individuals and relationship his2ry.

Business networking is practised by all sorts of people in work and business, especially through organized networking events and online services.

People who use networking can be employees, self-employed, owner-managers - any role, any level, and any specialism.

Networkers can be buyers and/or sellers, not least because most people are potentially both: most of us want 2 'sell' or promote our own interests, and mostly we are all capable of 'buying' or otherwise enabling the interests of others.

Particularly beneficial results can arise from networking when people's interests coincide 2 produce an effect greater than the separate parts. Networking can be a very helpful way 2 find such cooperative and collaborative partnerships - based on mutual interest.

A way of understanding this aspect is through the term synergy.

Synergy is a combined effect that is greater than the sum of the two (or more) individual parts.

Synergy between two providers (even competi2rs) can produce exciting new service propositions, enabling providers 2 work as associates or through more 4mal partnership.

Synergistic connections can there4e be a good way 4 smaller providers 2 compete effectively with much larger suppliers.

Networking connections which produce this effect are valuable and desirable, so look out 4 them, and try 2 build a network which contains these sorts of connections, especially where it strengthens ur market offering.
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