The most important professional/business activity we engage in is networking.
One sunny afternoon, I decided to go to the construction site to oversee how the renovations were going on an office space we just acquired. We had been cracking our heads on how we were going to partition it. This had become a big problem to us. As I parked my car, I saw a young woman just coming in too. I smiled at her and asked if she was a tenant as well. She said “Yes” and we got talking. We talked about her business then proceeded to talk about mine. I told her what I was passionate about and took her to the space we just acquired in the building. I went on to tell her how we would like to have a graduate school, and about how we intend to rent seminar rooms for that purpose. She immediately asked me, “Why don’t you not save your self some money and partition a training room out of this space?”. BOOM! That was it. I immediately changed all the designs. That decision saved us millions of naira. I am glad I smiled and spoke with her that day.
Networking is about building long-term relationships and a good reputation over time. It involves meeting and getting to know people who can potentially help or assist you in future. Having a good network is extremely beneficial. It is a strategy to reveal more opportunities and more possibilities. It’s a way of connecting with others; people you know, people you don’t really know and new people you have never met before.
Here are a few tips on Networking
1. Show up at events. Look for opportunities to attend events and conferences within and outside your industry to meet like-minds. This is a small way of growing your business.
2. Avoid just handing out business cards. Concentrate more on connecting and creating relationships rather than just giving out cards that may end up with a pile of others, the recipient barely remembering who you are.
3. Learn to network by asking polite questions rather than just waiting around. Questions like, “May I join you?” or “Are you a lawyer too?” Depending on the industry, can open up a beneficial conversation.
4. Listen More. Avoid talking too much. Allow the other party give out information. Always remember to never take over other people’s conversations, but know when to chip in a statement or question here and there.
5. Emphasize more on building relationships instead of marketing and closing a deal. A good relationship will eventually close the deal and bring more deals.
6. Always wear a smile. People tend to be more attracted to people who are wearing beautiful smiles. No one would want to walk up to someone whose face looks like it’s just been punched.
7. Share your ideas or whatever you are selling with passion ‘Remember it’s not about you, it’s about the people you want to connect with’.
8. Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. Keep in touch as soon as the event is over, then, they can still remember their pleasant conversation with you.
Supporting others’ work, accomplishments, life events and activities is a key part in networking – Be a connector, be a giver and a catalyst when you do network.