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Successful Networking Requires Commitment to Help Others

To some business professionals, a measure of their “success” at a trade show or a chamber mixer is the number of business cards they collect. They believe that by accumulating a lot of cards it makes this marketing activity successful. More often than not, they are going about the business of networking all wrong.

My SA BusinessTo some business professionals, a measure of their “success” at a trade show or a chamber mixer is the number of business cards they collect. They believe that by accumulating a lot of cards it makes this marketing activity successful. More often than not, they are going about the business of networking all wrong.

Hurrying around the room greeting and exchanging business cards with everyone there does little to grow their network. It may increase the number of contacts in their contact list, yet it does little to create lasting relationships.

The successful business professional knows that networking is about building and maintaining relationships. They understand that a next new customer is most likely not the person he/she met at the event, but instead is someone remotely connected to the new acquaintance. So, how does one build and maintain a meaningful relationship with someone they just met?

Successful networkers capitalize on what other business people say is important to them. Most people want to do business with people they know, like and trust. Getting a person's business card is only the first step toward making a relevant connection. The actions that follow determine whether or not the relationship expands or collapses.

Successful relationships are built on genuine concern for and interest in others. Taking an interest in the other person's needs and trying to help fulfill them is what wins them over.

Great relationships are built on listening more than talking. Asking a few unique questions to facilitate a rich discussion will cause you to be remembered for a long time. After introducing yourself by name, begin the conversation with “How did you get started in this line of work?” Follow it up with “What do you like best about your product (service)?” And don't overlook this one, either: “What are three characteristics of your ideal client or customer?” The answers will provide insight and understanding of the person, while the questions communicate a true interest in them.

Once the relationship is established, it's up to each professional to maintain it. For it to thrive, a professional networker must put a little effort into keeping it going. It's about staying in touch and looking for ways to help them grow. Making referrals, sharing information and connecting them to others are easy ways to strengthen the relationship. Great networkers can't expect others to help them grow if they aren't doing the same.

Trust is a major component when it comes to networking. So, professional networkers should follow through on what they say they will do for another. It's important here to not drop the ball. When people don't follow through, it can cause assumptions that this behavior is a common business practice. As a result, they will be less likely to refer any new business.

When exchanging business cards, it's important for both parties to consider how they can be of service to another. Those who portray themselves as people who want to be of service typically gain the trust of those they are meeting for the first time and ultimately develop profitable and successful relationships.

Cheryl C. Jones, owner of Simply The Best, is a business mentor and strategic planning facilitator. She provides coaching and workshops to small businesses and entrepreneurs. Contact Cheryl at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (210) 545-2378

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For  20 years, Simply The Best has worked with organizations in a variety of industries to improve interpersonal skills of employees at all levels, in order to maximize productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction, and promote workplace harmony

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