Lesson One: Networking Know How for Entrepreneurs

Getting Started Making Better, Purposeful Connections

Welcome to the first lesson in the Entrepreneurs Time to Re-Invent Networking & Blogging Series. Over the next few days you will receive lessons that will help you learn the ins and outs of networking, so that you can effectively use it to make more contacts, build your business and make more money. In this first lesson let’s talk a little about how you can effectively start networking  for your business. I emphasize for because your networking must be intentional and work to meet your business goals.

Making Connections & Blogging to Catapult Business Brand

 Reciprocal Highest Good

First let’s talk a little bit about what networking can do for your business. When used wisely and appropriately, networking is one of the most cost-effective business building tools that you will ever use. However it is important that you don’t approach it simply as a method to sell more. Networking is the process of creating relationships where you can help others achieve their goals, and they can help you achieve yours. networking for entrepreneurs[pullquote align=”right”] To be successful, you have to be able to relate to people; they have to be satisfied with your personality to be able to do business with you and to build a relationship with mutual trust.     – George Ross [/pullquote]

 

 

 

 

 

 

shadow-ornament

When it comes to networking the know how is very important for your business success. There is a notion in business, I believe most of us subscribe to that says “all things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those they know like and trust." Your Know, Like and Trust factor is directly related to your success. If you believe this, the obvious key to this is lies in your ability to develop relationships. Think of networking as the cultivation of mutually beneficial relationships. To create a win-win, there must be GIVE and take (notice the emphasis on give). I'm sure you also heard, "The more you give, the more you receive." This is absolutely true in networking and relationship building too.

Networking Is A Process, Not An Event

Networking shouldn't be viewed as an “event” where you go to sell your business. Networking is more of a process. When effective networking is taking place, the entrepreneurs involved actively share ideas, information, resources, etc. Imagine what it would be like if you attended an event where everyone is simply selling their own services all night...   networking mistakes take and not giveI have been to networking events where this was the norm. I found it to be boring and non-productive to be in a room filled with people who are looking to see what others can do for them. It's like being in a room full of self-serving egocentric competitive wolves. No thank you.

Ok, so you know that you should be networking because it is one of the most cost-effective lead generation activities around - when used wisely, appropriately and professionally. But, maybe that seems easier said than done.

[dropcap]T [/dropcap]he mark of a good conversationalist is not that you can talk a lot. The mark is that you can get others to share. Thus, good schmoozer’s are good listeners, not good talkers. ~ Guy Kawasaki Could you use a step by step plan to help you get started on the right foot when you begin networking for your business? Here you go!

 7 Steps to Transforming Networking into Making Connections

[check-list]

  • Check out several groups to find the best chemistry and perceived value. Most groups will allow you to come and visit at least a couple of times before you have to join. Go, ask around to find out why others have joined and what value they get out of belonging. Resist the urge to just go join the Chamber of Commerce simply because everyone tells you that’s what you are supposed to do. If that’s not where your target group can be found,  you might just be wasting a considerable amount of time (and money). Hello, I'm certainly not telling you not to join the Chamber, there are great advantages to being a member - just have clarity what they are is key. Just be clear about what you'd like to get out of this or any other group you join, have a clear definition and purpose for each. If your intention is to find prospective clients or referral sources, then you should be networking where those resources can be found, or with people who have direct access to them.
  • When you find a group that not only interests you but will also further you venture, join AND go to the as many meetings as your schedule permits. Don’t go just once or twice expecting things to happen and give up if they don't. Building mutually beneficial, win-win relationships will take some time so be patient. The connections you make need time to cultivate. It's a process to build familiarity and comrade. Yes, this means potential stake-holders must constantly see your face and hear your message. Continual contact with others over time will open up opportunities for you to go deeper and learn more about each others thoughts, ideas, capabilities. Soon you will explore ways to benefit each others business and perhaps clients. Real know, like, and trust generally only happens over time. Consistency and persistence will pay off; stay focused and know this to be true .
  • Get involved - be visible. Do as much as you can to make yourself seen and heard within the organization. Volunteer to help with meetings, get on committees, become a leader or board member where applicable. Being involved does a couple of things for you and your business; First, you'll get opportunities to establish meaningful connections and get to know Influencers better. Second, the higher the visibility you have in the group, the less you'll have to work to make new connections. Instead, as new people come into the group, they will likely seek you out because they view you as a leader within the organization. You will soon become an Influencer, mover-and-shaker, must-know, go-to-person in the group - potential prospects and partners will now come to you for connections.
  • Keep your circles of contacts informed about your projects and upcoming ventures. Don’t assume that running into someone once a month (or even once a week) will cause them to start doing business with you or send prospects your way. You must let them know what’s going on in your business as a way to serve,  inform and educate them. Invite them to your events. Send them emails, a monthly newsletter or drop them a postcard to share big news or success stories,. You want to share anything of relevance to them or those in their network. If you believe you have valuable ideas, information and resources to share with others, doesn't it just make sense to share? The more you share, the greater your exposure to illustrate your brand and exemplify your reputation as an expert and go-to-person.
  • The key to catapulting your success is for you to work at GIVING referrals and sharing valuable information. That’s right, you must be willing to GIVE before you get - you've heard that your whole life. This begins by getting to know others and learning what makes a good prospect for them. What kind of information do you have access to that could be useful for them? You may initially think you don’t have much of value to share with others,  but that is hardly ever true. An essential rule in giving is to not make assumptions. For example, don’t assume that some basic resource (e.g., a web site or new software)  you just found is familiar to someone because they are the “expert” in that field. Be willing to ask if they know about the resource and prepare to share if they don’t. Want to get better at actually giving referrals? Here’s a simple question to ask someone you’re connecting with. “How will I know when I meet a really good prospect for you?” The fact that you are willing to explore giving and serving their needs will elevate your Know, Like and Trust factor.
  • Stay Quality-Focused, not Quantity, Quantity, Quantity. It’s not necessarily about the number of connections you make, but more about the quality of the relationships you build. Every so often, do what I call a "Rolodex Quality Check." Go through your contacts -both professionally and personally and prepare to make an assessment if the person is still a viable resource for your success. Think about it, are they a mutually beneficial, win-win connection? Quality relationships are practical, when you both can actively sharing ideas, information, and resources. Yes, it is true that you need to spend some time and effort getting to know other people and what’s important to them. But, you also need to be clear and continuously thinking about what information or resources you want and need - and eliminating the rest. Staying in touch with and following up with a smaller number of quality relationships will generally be much more productive than trying to follow up with a larger number of superficial contacts.
  • Be persistent, but be patient. The goal of a networking event shouldn't necessarily be to come away with prospects every time you go out, but to come away with great connections. Networking usually takes time to get the relationships developed and nurtured.   Don’t approach networking as a scary proposition or a necessary evil for your business. Take the pressure off yourself and really focus on how you may authentically connect with the people you meet. In the beginning, focus on them and look for ways to be useful. As you become known as a person that is willing to contribute and help others you'll begin to reap the rewards.
[/check-list]

We have a lot to go over in the next few days if you want to learn how to effectively network for your business, so make sure you look for your next lesson soon.   Thanks again for spending a few minutes with me today. If you have any questions or need any assistance please feel free to contact me at anytime. I will be happy to help.

In awareness, passion, joy, purpose & great relationships,

#1 small busienss coach and trainer in charlotte

About The Author

Callahan

Andrea Callahan is a brand designer. She helps passion & purpose-driven entrepreneurs maximize their strengths to craft and implement an image that represents their WHY and to use that why to position themselves as an Industry Influencer. She a speaker, seminar leader and the author of, "It's Your Brand ~ Make Your Identity Clear" available on Amazon.com Callahan launched the Industry Influencer Academy at academy.andreacallahan.com

I Would Love to Hear From You...