"Networking with Purpose" a Key Game-Changer for Securing Future Business Opportunities.
Updated: Jun 12, 2019
"Hands up who loves Networking? "
This is the question I begin with, when delivering our Networking Skills Workshop.
The truth is most people don’t – not because they don’t need to or aren’t good at it, but because they have not taken the time to invest in some basic skills development that will open up a whole new world of business opportunities.
If you're like I used to be, the thought of walking into a room full of 50 business people with the intention of meeting new commercial contacts will be terrifying. Also, like most people, I found awkwardly approaching an established small group of people chatting to be a nightmare. Through learning Networking with Purpose, you too, could learn to love Networking as I now do.
Most professionals know that networking is an essential part of business and business development these days.
With planning and strategically targeting organisations and the right people, future new and existing business can be realised. Too often, people use “I’m too busy” as an excuse to avoid networking and it just that, an excuse. Planning and prioritising your networking activities, means future business is always on the horizon and should be a key component to your businesses growth.
Without Networking being integrated in your strategic roadmap, means the future your businesses might be questionable and of uncertainties. Busy delivering today does not mean being busy in the future. Changing attitudes toward Networking will create long-term profitable relationships and in turn, create revenue opportunities.
Let’s focus on one of the four components that make up the "Networking with Purpose Model" which is “Attitude and Mindset”. The other components are "Strategy and Planning", "Communication Skills" and "Networking Channels".
Our thinking about what we do at work is greatly influenced by our attitudes in all areas of our lives. In turn, the benefits we gain from our networking and prospecting efforts are largely influenced by the way we think. Such returns are also influenced by the value we place on investing in longer term opportunities to develop contact pipelines that lead to revenue generation.
Attitude begins with your core behaviour. This is the way you mentally observe things around you and interact with people. Therefore, it follows that our behaviour is usually consistent with our attitudes. A positive attitude is ground zero for the right core behaviour to become a good Networker.
This will provide higher energy levels, enhance creativity, trigger enthusiasm and provide a platform to develop a more compelling personality. A positive attitude says that the world is a wonderful place, full of opportunities. Conversely, negative attitudes cause negative results and make the world appear dull and threatening. Strong positive attitudes enable us to turn so called problems into opportunities and to handle rejection without feeling threatened.
Negative attitudes are not neutral; they are destructive, because if we are always thinking negatively and making excuses for failure, then the focus is on failure…. and we will surely fail.
I recently worked with a team of engineers from JN Responsive Engineering in Sydney. As expected, when asked "Who loves Networking", there was one person who sheepishly raised their hand, two people said they were completely uncomfortable with networking and the other seven fell somewhere along the spectrum in between.
Business Networking requires a toolbox of learned skills and techniques. Very few technical professionals wake up one morning and are fantastic and accomplished networkers simply because they have focused on their craft. It takes time, effort and practice to learn the skills and techniques to become a great Networker.
Attitudes colour the way we see things, so look for things that support our attitudes. They form a reference against how we interpret our impressions of the world. But they don’t just affect the way we see things – they also influence the way we behave.
For example, if your attitude to networking is that it is challenging, time consuming and difficult to measure; how will you behave? Or if your attitude is that your client is obstructive, unpleasant, or doesn’t want to cooperate; how will that affect your behaviour when you have contact with them?
A number of years ago I was delivering a Networking skills workshop and one of the Senior Engineers sat back with arms folded and said in a very clear and deliberate voice:
“You've got your work cut out for you today Mal, if you think you can convince me to start networking and building a new client base”. I was pleasantly surprised at the end of the day when I reviewed his feedback form. He clearly articulated that he had found the workshop to be immensely useful due to the practical 3 step approach to building his business network along with some helpful "Tips and Tricks".
Simple, step by step techniques can transform the way professionals view networking. Networking is a strategic business activity that consumes time, effort and cost. Therefore, taking a strategic approach makes great business sense. Research shows if you take time out to plan your networking activities, prepare before you attend and then take appropriate measures to follow up; within 6 month you will start to see a positive impact to your bottom line.
Here are a few TIPS:
1. Develop a methodology and plan to build your business network.
2. Focus on how you will "add-value" to their network (It will come back three-fold).
3. Prepare three (3) open-ended questions; you will survive any new group of people.
4. Good eye contact, smile and a firm handshake will overcome awkwardness or the appearance of creeping up behind a few people chatting 90% of the time.
5. Once you have run out of things to say; invite them to join you in meeting someone else; or offer to get them a drink from the bar.
"Networking with Purpose" is part of our Client Centric professional consulting development program and if you would like to open up a world of new opportunities speak to one of our consultants for a free initial consultation please click here.