Small Business Articles from Make-it-Fly®
Turn Networking Upside-Down
By Victoria Munro
Everyone’s doing it: networking. Online and offline, people, especially business owners, are connecting. If you want to be successful as an entrepreneur, you’re likely spending time networking.
Seminars, webinars and workshops galore offer to help us Tweet, meet, make friends and connect online. It’s new and it’s changing at lightning speed. We need to learn, and there’s a lot to learn! The number of live, in-person networking events is also exploding, but there’s far less guidance available to help us successfully navigate our way around a roomful of peers. Perhaps we assume this traditional way of connecting just comes naturally. However, watching business owners networking today reveals that is not the case.
Really effective face-to-face networking can seem counterintuitive. After all, you want to build your business, so meeting as many influential people as possible and telling folks about what you offer and how it can help them feels like the natural thing to do—the best way to promote it. This logic is valid, but it doesn’t work, because people hate to be sold to.
Successful networking turns this thinking upside-down. Instead of attending a networking event to promote your business and find new customers, turn your focus to learning from and helping those you meet.
Getting to know people takes time and effort. Building friendships doesn’t happen over night, but people want to do business with those they know like and trust. Successful, long-term companies are built on genuine relationships of trust.
Avoid the Losing Strategy
Working a room by meeting people, talking about yourself, your products or services and handing out your business card, even if it wasn’t asked for. This is self-defeating—you’re shooting yourself in the foot. There’s a much better way, and it’s a lot more fun.
Apply the Winning Strategy
Meet people with a view to getting to know and help them. Ask questions and listen. Allow the other person to bask in the spotlight. Show genuine interest. Sincerity is key—it has to come from the heart. People can sense in a minute when you’re faking it. And never give out a business card unless you’re asked for one.
As you network, both on and offline, remember to turn the old way of thinking upside-down. Trade the accepted paradigm of promoting your business for a winning strategy. You’ll be rewarded personally, professionally and financially. After all, true friends are one of the greatest assets we can possess.
© 2005-2009 Victoria Munro.
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About the Author: Victoria Munro is
co-founder (along with husband Dave Block) of Make-it-Fly®
LLC, a company dedicated to creating success for
small-business owners through creatively designed programs
and tools. Victoria has started and run nine different
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