We’ve all heard it before; ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ or, ‘it’s not what you know it’s what you do with it’, or ‘it’s not who you know, its how you manage who you know’. No mater the quote, the message is clear; its definitely not what you know and you need to make an effort to manage those you know, because future business is born through networks!
Unfortunately, many of us are not efficient networkers. Excusitis claims reasons such as: “I ‘m too shy”, “it hasn’t worked in the past”, “I don’t have time” etc etc. But can you really afford not to network when its the number one reason for business success? and when the number one reason people will leave your business is because they think you don’t care about them? Can you really afford not to show someone you care?
When it comes to networking, quality definitely means more than quantity. You need to spend time building genuine relationships. In business, there is no point knowing hundreds of people if none of them refer you any business. Referrals are the most robust sales you can make. In short, a referral means that someone who needs you has been endorsed by your common friend. No advertising needed.
Personally I have been running my business for three years without an advertising budget. I wasn’t the best networker in the beginning and I constantly undermined my services, so when the grape vine brought me my biggest client so far, I added networking events to my marketing budget and made sure to go to two meetings or events each week for a year. Michelle Gamble from Marketing Angels, confirms my story. I met Michelle at a networking event for Small Business September in 2009 where she spoke about the power of social media. Two years later Michelle hired one of my friends Erin, who I had met at a university course the previous year. So for both business and employment, networking works. More than 50% of employment happens through networking.
So what skills are required to network like a pro?
Before I get into the top 7 networking skills, I just want to remind all you beautiful women out there that despite being a pro networker, don’t forget to say NO too!
Ivan Misner Ph.D. is one of the worlds most renowned academics and professionals in networking. Keeping one leg in each pot, Misner has conducted research on his privately owned professional business network BNI for more than 20 years. The research confirms a set of 7 must have skills to be a pro networker:
7. Be sincere
6. Have a positive and flexible attitude
5. Listen properly, don’t just wait for your turn to talk
4. Follow up on referrals, call or meet in person
3. Work your network effectively
2. Be trustworthy and Reliable
1. You must like to help others
Make sure you make an effort now to learn what these 7 skills mean and how you can employ them. Tell people about them. Ask yourself and others questions to see if you are a skilled networker. Make a networking scorecard and game plan for how you will network in the future. Make sure you by Misners books ‘networking like a pro’ and ‘networking and sex’ to understand and act on these vital networking skills that will be the number 1 reason behind your future success. Because future business is born through networks!
Next time you meet someone:
- Introduce yourself in context
- Be Interested
- Request Contact Information
- Follow up
7 Vital Networking Skills:
Resources and Contacts:
“The exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business” – from Merriam-Webster