On April 7, 2014, Greg Stewart shared his six tips on successful business networking with the PSGCNJ General Membership meeting.
Business networking is an activity in which groups of like-minded businesspeople recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities. A business network is a type of business social network whose reason for existing is business activity.
Stewart advises that networking is something you have been doing your whole life, without realizing it. Anytime you recommend a move, house cleaner or personal trainer, for example, you are networking. It extends into every aspect of your life. To translate that experience into successful business networking requires focus, time, patience, and nurturing.
These six tips can guide you to more successful business networking:
1. Connect with people who have common interests and objectives
Start by researching groups of interest in your local area and on the web. Consider local networking meetings, business educational programs, professional alumni meetings or informational interviews.
Assess your status vis a vis these groups by doing the following activities:
• Identify your weaknesses
• Identify any professional friends or contacts in your target groups
• Determine your level of credibility
• Examine your industry knowledge
• Decide if you need help
When you have clarity on what you can offer the group and where you need to build your skills, quickly get up to speed, then go out and network at the events that are right for your goals.
2. Forge bonds and share
Find out what your network partners need and striving to find opportunities to satisfy those needs. Networking is a two-way street based on giving.
3. Make the best possible contacts
The success of a network depends on the quality of your connections, not the quantity. Measure the value of your network based on the members’ knowledge, resources, skills and advocacy not on how many business cards you collected.
4. Generously give to one another
Be sure to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the networking event when you enter the room, introduce yourself. Be a good listener; remember key points of your discussion or take notes immediately following the event.
5. Do not expect an immediate return
Networking takes time. Preparing ahead makes for more positive outcomes.
Before an event, determine your plan of action. Plan and practice in order to overcome your fears. Practice your introduction. Have business cards that convey the impression and information you want to impart.
After the meeting, ask yourself these questions:
• Do you have a network that is effective for you
• Was this an effective meeting
• Were you prepared
• Did you meet the type of people you planned on
Use the information gleaned in this review to develop a better plan and add value to your next networking event.
6. Stay in Contact!
The best network will not help you if you do not stay in touch with the contacts you have made. After a networking meeting, ask yourself if you need to follow-up with anyone you met there. Phone, email or write a letter promptly after the meeting. Share information. Then continue to update your networking contacts on your progress.
One of the founding Partners of NexGen Management LLC, Greg is an Accredited Business Advisor & Coach from the Institute for Independent Business, past Chairperson for the Technology Committee of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce and President of the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce (NJ) 2012-13.
Greg is an experienced Professional Services Executive and Entrepreneur with more than 30 years of global experience in client relations, human resource, team building, project management, outsourcing and account development in Sales, Operations, Marketing and Strategic Planning with organizations ranging from startups to FORTUNE 500 in both the Domestic USA and Global marketplace.