Business networking can be defined as a Socio-Economic activity through which like-minded business people create, share, recognize and act up on business opportunities. A business network also is a social network but differs in the purpose of existence – business activity.
It is about establishing a mutually beneficial relationship which can help in getting a regular supply of the business. It is much more than shaking hands, sharing bunch of cards and attending lot of networking function. Its more of an art than science.
When you want to do Business networking, you must be focused, strategic and proactive. You must first understand what and why you are networking for and your target people/businesses. Not everyone you meet in networking can help you in your businesses. Again, its not about how many cards you can collect, its about how many ‘relevant’ cards you can collect. More importantly, its not about how many cards ‘relevant’ cards you collect, its about how much ‘relationship’ you are able to create in that limited time.
Top 6 Tips for Successful Business Networking :
1. Attitude :
The first and foremost important factor to decide your success in networking is your attitude. If you are out there for networking to just collect some bunch of cards and thinking it will be a mere waste of time and something you are particularly dreading, you soon will get frustrated about it. Get encouraged with a fact that 75% of US property companies businesses from 2008 to 2010 came from networking activity alone.
Love people. Love to be in a crowd. Love to make more friends. Love to have win-win relationships.
2. First Impression is undoubtedly the Best Impression :
Dress appropriately. If your profession does not require a professional business suite, then smart casual is fine. Dress according to the situation. You may want to dress according to the majority target networking people. Don’t be too enthusiastic while wishing and giving a hand shake. A hand shake can tell you what kind of feelings you carry. Have a pleasant smile while wishing and more importantly wish with heart not with mouth.
3. Research :
Research shows your seriousness. Do a little research about the event, the place and more important the profile of the people who will be at the event. Look for synergies with your business. This helps you in not meeting every person and wasting your time and effort. You can smartly network with only the people who can be helpful for you.
If you are not sure of the event or the people who will attend it, you can always ask the person who invited you for the event or the event coordinators.
4. Ask Open Ended Questions :
You have to ask open ended questions most of the times. This gives you more specific answers and hence solves the purpose of networking more. It also creates a better impression about you. To ask more appropriate open ended questions, you have to do research about that particular industry or company or their products/services.
5. Talk Less, Convey More :
Give a clear message. Do not give prolonged explanations in the first meeting itself. Long conversations can make them bore, short and clear talks can create enthusiasm. The goal is to make the other person remember you as person with knowledge, not of words.
6. Be Ready with Elevator Speech :
Elevator Speech is something you have to convey entire message in less than a minute (with in time to reach 6 floors in an elevator). Be prepared. This can really make a great impression if you can clearly tell about your business or company or products/services within a minute.Again, you should not look like hurried or tensed. Practice the elevator speech in front of mirror till you feel comfortable.