Thanks for wanting to network better! You’re now one step closer to being an amazing relationship builder!
Why? Because I’m about to share a few of my secrets with you so that you can get there faster!
I am sharing these “secrets” to guide you towards becoming a great connector and become better at relationship building so that you will experience loads of networking success on a regular basis.
What’s more, you’ll enjoy those successes straight away, not some time in the fuzzy future.
Powerful confident conversations are your birthright. You don’t have to be born with a ‘silver tongue’.
Communicating effectively is something you can learn, and quickly.
But first I need you to brace yourself for the shocking truth. Are you ready?
Are you sitting down?
The only thing standing between you and being able to connect, communicate and build strong relationships, is… well… you!
Annoying isn’t it?
That means that you and you alone may have been delaying your goals and dreams, when you could have been enjoying them by now.
Why would anyone NOT want to move towards their goals and dreams…. you know… the ones that will give you so much pleasure?
Sounds crazy right?
Usually what stops us is ‘stinking thinking’.
That’s when you get stuck on an old idea that doesn’t help you be in alignment with your desires.
You may not realize that you are suffering from ‘stinking thinking’, as these thoughts usually lurk insidiously on the edge of your mind, keeping you comfortable and safe, but not allowing you to progress.
Here are some examples of ‘stinking thinking’:
- I’m very introverted so who am I kidding, thinking that I can network!
- I can’t start a conversation to save myself, so why would I embarrass myself by even trying?
- What will others think of me?
- I don’t have time to study….
- I can’t afford to learn any new skills…
I could go on but you get the idea. Often we are not even aware we are having these thoughts that stop us before we even get started.
I know, because I was there myself, well… a long while ago!
But guess what?
You don’t need to be a great talker or be super confident to work with me.
And as for what will other people think of you?
Get ready for them being surprised, amazed, delighted and envious!
These ideas are designed for people who don’t want to waste time in reaching their goals.
Looking back, I really do wish that I’d had a mentor to guide me through what I will share with you. It would have saved me a lot of time, money and energy… NOW, you get the benefit of those years of experience.
The simplest, easiest and most powerful networking tips are often overlooked, given lip-service to, or are totally unknown.
Here are some of the most powerful business networking secrets you can have in your hands.
Let’s start with a bonus secret…
(yep… this one is important)
How not to get stopped before you have even started.
Here you are… excited and terrified to begin your relationship building journey, possibly even experiencing some sleepless nights as your mind races with wonderful new possibilities. Perched on the very edge of a grand adventure you are longing to go on, but an unwelcome friend turns up.
It’s called FEAR.
Everyone experiences fear to a greater or lesser extent whenever they are starting something new, venturing into unknown territory.
As we leave our predictable comfort zones and try new things, we enter into a process of change (yep… that word again). Part of us wants to risk and grow, and part of us wants to play it safe leaving things exactly as they are.
Rather than letting it stop you, you can force fear to be your ally, galvanizing you into action so that you don’t fail.
I’ve taken risks too (particularly since I was very painfully shy), one at a time, and I have been able to grow into a confident connector, speaker, networker… now educator.
Looking back at these steps which were quite scary, I feel so thankful that trusting that little voice inside me won out and I was encouraged enough to give things a go.
Now I have a life that I thoroughly enjoy.
I have always found encouragement and positivity on the other side of fear, and a bigger more wonderful life to be had. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of trusting where the heart wants to lead you.
Yes, I acknowledge that fear can be your companion at times, but don’t allow fear to put the brakes on your new opportunities.
So recognize that you are fearful, and get on with it anyway, because you know that it will turn out great.
#1 (you need to get this)
What Is The Purpose of Networking?
For many of us business networking involves many rules, procedures and processes… however what we truly need to understand about networking is how important it is as a holistic framework to help our people and businesses grow to secure our collective financial future.
Networking is a mutually beneficial practice where we share leads, referrals, ideas, concepts, information and develop amazingly powerful relationships.
Some of the other things that we can share are less tangible, and yet no less important, things like our passion, laughter, our focus and drive to achieve and our ability to support and help others with the knowledge and information we have.
This is something that can benefit our personal lives and definitely benefits our professional lives.
Here are some concepts that capture the true spirit of what business networking is all about:
- Firstly, networking is not a natural skill, it is actually a science… a process that can be effectively taught to anyone.
You may well ask, and you’re probably thinking it… how is business networking a process?
What truly makes networking work is that we all need to understand that networking is about connecting and engaging people, being able to communicate effectively and being able to develop a strong relationship with them at all levels.
These particular skills need to be learned, nurtured, and developed in a holistic fashion and this requires skill, passion and application to work well.
- Secondly, it is very important to understand that business networking is not just a work style it is actually a lifestyle option.
The best networkers don’t just network for work or at a business function, they network everywhere…
They use their skills to connect and communicate and nurture relationships with people, they support people in their endeavors and willingly share their knowledge and expertise.
In fact, true networkers don’t even know that they are ‘networking’, they are simply being who they are.
- Thirdly, and most importantly networking is about developing trust.
Just because you and I may belong to a business group or we are members of the same Chamber of Commerce, it doesn’t mean that you are entitled to leads or referrals from me and I am certainly not entitled to leads or referrals from you.
If you and I are going to do any business together, we need to actually spend time and effort to develop a relationship that is going to be mutually beneficial.
The better we build and enrich our relationship, with good communication and support, the sooner we will be able to help each other with leads and referrals.
Eventually, you will develop a vast and diverse network, then you will really have something of enormous value as well, and it will take you through life easily and profitably both personally and professionally.
Another bonus secret…
(you kinda gotta do this)
One little word to empower you immediately!
Many of you have become ‘people pleasers’ without even realizing how that happened.
You put everyone else first, saying yes to loads of requests that keep you busy and hinder you from pursuing your own goals and dreams.
Some of you have nurtured your family… putting yourself last, waiting for your turn to come eventually.
While others are in jobs that are not particularly satisfying.
To be a good communicator and relationship builder requires more than just having a conversation. It is about valuing your time and developing who you are.
I know, I promised an insight into connecting, communicating and relationship building, but I think you will find that this is also about restarting your love affair with yourself, as you make time to become who you truly want to be.
To learn these powerful skills, you’ll need to fly solo while you focus on some of the ideas that I will share with you… making some time here and there in your already busy lives.
With this in mind there are two small but very powerful letters you may like to practice in front of the mirror. They are N and O.
Combined they make the word ‘NO!’ (very useful when people are interrupting your flow and taking your valuable time)
Go on, pucker up and try it now in front of the mirror! (sounds funny but you need to do it… go on… LOL)
Also a good habit to get into is to either turn off or put your phone on silent/airplane mode when you practise these ideas. (remember to turn it back on though)
It IS possible to please others and yourself, but it’s also about noticing what you really need… and making the time for it.
I guarantee your time will be well spent and the results will speak for themselves.
#2 (get it… and hit it)
Do You Know Why You Network… What Is YOUR Purpose?
Surprisingly, most business people don’t network.
Not enough time, don’t know how, don’t perceive the need, not motivated, don’t see any value in it or they simply don’t like the way ‘networking’ has been done in this marketplace.
Of those that do, many business people don’t know how to network successfully.
They don’t follow any kind of process, and most don’t actually know why they network.
This last point is important because I’m not talking about getting leads, trying to get business or socializing.
I’m talking about the fact that the majority of people in business don’t have anything that remotely looks like a networking goal.
Without a goal, what are you hoping to achieve through your networking (probably what you are achieving now… a whole lot of not much)?
Over the years many people have asked me, “Why am I so successful at networking?”
The answer has two parts.
Firstly, my attitude to networking and secondly, my goals in networking (by the way, what I am sharing are my opinions and are based on many years of experience both good and bad).
Let us start with an attitude towards networking.
Networking, is not an endgame… it is a beginning game. Networking is a very powerful process… NOT a VERB (doing word), which is how most people use it.
Going to a networking function is NOT about pitching my product or service to as many people as possible, collecting as many business cards as I can or making myself look good… by putting down my business competition.
You might say, of course not, this would be ridiculous.
However, I see this happen time and time again at networking functions, and if you don’t believe me, take some time and have a look and listen at your next networking event… you will not only be surprised, you’ll be mortified.
Networking functions have two real purposes.
Firstly, it is your opportunity to tell your story, to get known, be seen and heard by telling your specific, structured elevator speech to as many people who are interested (note the last three words).
Secondly, to make a connection, nothing more, just to make a connection.
Everything else that follows happens outside the networking function.
Now, what is this GOAL thing about?
Over the years I have asked thousands of people one simple question… “What is your networking goal?”
Over 96% (my statistics, from my own research) of people in business, not only don’t have a goal, they don’t know what I’m talking about.
“A networking goal… what for?
Now before I go any further, please understand, these are my goals that I determined for myself quite a few years ago (yes, I WAS one of those who didn’t have a goal then either), but they have worked exceptionally well for me, and continue to do so.
YOU need to determine YOUR needs and wants and create YOUR own goals that are going to suit YOU and YOUR business requirements.
I have two goals whenever I go to a networking function:
1. To meet three people in business, WHO I DO NOT KNOW and whom I can help in their business through either my connections or my skills.
(I am NOT there to collect business cards, or just catch up with friends, although I do say hello. I will often talk to several different people before I achieve my goal of three connections. I don’t hand out cards unless asked, you do need to be polite, and I don’t ask for cards unless they are from my chosen three (although I will take a card if offered… NEVER be rude). I move from individual or group with purpose and continue until I have achieved my goal).
2. My second goal is to identify two businesses which could become potential strategic alliances or referral partners.
(These are people where we have mutual synergies. These can even be businesses that belong to friends. These NEED to be businesses where we can work together and assist each other to mutual benefit, success and profitability. I have often found that those businesses do not generally come from the people I had connected with earlier. Although on a couple of occasions, they have been the same person and business).
Your goals need to be clearly defined and simple, but most importantly, like all things that create massive success, they need to be applied consistently.
#3 (take your time with this one)
As a speaker or writer, it can be difficult to have people believe in the message we try to create.
Whether it is to encourage people to take action, or to inform them about changes that are taking place in a myriad of situations, or convincing people to look at or engage with a new idea… people often have difficulty in trusting the message and the messenger.
You may well ask, “What is the reason for this?”
The challenge is that I don’t know if there is a simple answer to that question, but let’s have a look at a few possible reasons.
I personally think that we have been marketed into mental oblivion.
What I mean is that marketing and advertising agencies have given us bigger, brighter, louder ads with the primary focus of getting our attention.
Unfortunately, the message is also about getting our attention through clever, but confusing branding, and by making promises that can’t be kept or sustained by their clients.
For example (and this is not a criticism, just an observation), two of the most recognized brands in the world are Pepsi and Nike.
Pepsi’s ‘Next Generation’ brand (no matter how it is re-packaged), does nothing to tell us about a refreshing, energizing drink that we might enjoy, it just positions itself against its competitors in the marketplace. People don’t really care about Pepsi, they care about themselves.
Nike’s, ‘Do It’ brand, really doesn’t mean anything to a consumer. It doesn’t talk to us about comfort, support, strength or durability of their footwear and clothing lines. Really, if you ‘Do It’, what are you doing?
What is it, and what does ‘it’ mean?
Marketing has become: everyone promising everything and nothing; guarantees that don’t guarantee anything and a full on assault on our senses that has become little more than a massive blanket of static and white noise in our lives.
No wonder we live in a ‘low trust’ world, where we question almost everything and fail to receive satisfactory answers to our questions.
So how do we get our messages across?
I believe that the solution is simply being authentic and… “telling authentic stories”.
Telling implies relating information that is more than just a sound bite. It is relating information that engages the audience so that they can feel the story unfold and identify with it in their lives, through their experience.
Authenticity is about being ‘REAL’, sharing true stories, ideas and concepts that your audience can relate to you directly and know that it hasn’t been cleverly constructed to get them to do something.
For example, the story of Steven Bradbury, Australian speed skating Olympic gold medalist, is a true story, heartfelt and inspirational.
Real stories from our lives or the lives of our friends have the impact, passion and genuineness that deconstructed stories rarely deliver.
Relating authentic stories begins to put the trust back into a low trust world, so that people not only feel better about themselves, but also about others in their lives.
You’re genuineness and authenticity; instead of trying to convince people, will actually engage them and create attraction for your ideas, thoughts and concepts, your message, as it were.
By creating this attraction, your interaction with your audience will be very fulfilling, both for them and for you.
Share yourself, your life and your experiences, the lessons you’ve learned, the failures as well as the successes.
Become a real experience in an unreal world for your audience.
#4 (this is a biggie)
If You Want To Build A Strong Relationship… Learn To Give!
Building relationships is probably one of the most important ways to grow a business.
The biggest challenge most people have is that we don’t have a great deal of time to build relationships, therefore we take shortcuts, and then we wonder why our business relationships aren’t delivering the profitability we would like.
The other problem in trying to build quality relationships is that we are so used to pitching our products at people we rarely understand the process of giving before we receive.
What I would like to do, is to approach this from a different angle, and in doing so shift your perspective on the whole process of giving, which will then give you a better framework on how to build relationships in business.
“I give my time to a charity, and it’s not fulfilling!”
“I give and give and give at work and I don’t get any recognition.”
“I give so much time to my job and there is no reward!”
“I try so hard and give everything to my relationship, and I’m not appreciated.”
“I give so much to this group, and no one appreciates or recognizes the effort I put in.”
“It’s not fair, I put in so much effort with no result!”
It should, we have all made these statements or ones like them, not once but many times in our lives.
Always giving, rarely getting back what we think we deserve.
Not very fair is it?
Frustrating, annoying and disheartening!
But wait… as Professor Julius Sumner Miller, renowned NZ physicist used to ask… “Why is it so?”
So… “Why is it so?”
Let’s have a look at this and consider a couple of real possibilities.
Firstly, we grow up in a world that is all about give and take.
We are taught from a very early age that if you do this, you’ll get that back, whatever ‘that’ is. This process kind of worked in its simplest form in educating us as children.
However, it becomes very one-sided once thoughts, ideas and situations become more complex.
Also there is an interesting challenge to the model.
It means that we develop an expectation of a return on investment, whether in time, money, emotion, friendship, recognition etc…
‘Giving’, has come to automatically mean that we not only expect, but are going to receive something back in return for what we have done.
However, we are being taught conflicting principles.
On one hand, we are taught that giving is GOOD.
Good people give, giving helps others, giving makes you feel good, helping others less fortunate is a good thing.
Interestingly, we are also taught that taking is BAD.
Don’t want for more, that is being greedy. It’s not nice to take… better to share… stop expecting more… you are being selfish…
What a mental and emotional screw up!
Right now, I’d like you to do something for me.
Please get a coin out, any coin from your pocket or purse, or borrow one from a friend (don’t forget to give it back… LOL).
Now have a look at it! What do you see?
You see a coin… one coin, with two sides.
This is exactly like the whole ‘give-and-take’ paradigm. You can’t have one side without the other, yet we are taught, ‘give = good and take = bad’.
So the real problem is we need to put taking/receiving into the good category, and guess what… despite what we have been conditioned to believe, it is actually OK to receive.
Because if you don’t have it, you can’t give it, just like the old phrase, “You can’t give love, if you don’t have love.”
So… how do we fix it?
Well, there are probably a hundred ways to do this… more ways than I can detail here. But we can start with one, an important one, in my humble opinion.
Learn to receive accolades and compliments graciously and thank people for them.
We are so used to excusing things that we often miss the opportunity, when someone genuinely gives us a sincere compliment. It doesn’t matter whether the compliment is about our hair (not in my case… LOL), or that we have lost weight, or have a nice blouse or shirt on, or that we even have a nice smile or personality.
Become aware of what people are saying and recognize and acknowledge people when they give you a compliment.
For example, when someone says, you have on a nice blouse, don’t go and say something like, “Oh, this old thing, I’ve had it for years”, instead, pause and say thank you and tell the person that you genuinely appreciate the compliment.
I think this is an important first step to understanding that getting/receiving is a good thing.
Something we need to get used to, and start to re-balance the giving and receiving equation.
Happy receiving and relationship building everyone!
#5 (this is SO important)
Follow Up… What Follow Up?
Well here we are, almost at the end.
The thing I would like to talk to you about right now is probably one of the most important yet poorly understood elements of business networking.
I can honestly say this, because at various times in my business career I have been one of the worst culprits in not following up people I have met at networking events.
Follow-up, good follow-up is so important in building relationships, that if you do this right… you can almost to do everything else badly.
Urgent points to consider…
You are not now or ever required to follow up every connection that you come across… This is one of the biggest fallacies in business networking and a sure way to become annoying and have people put you on their “please don’t contact me list” (refer to Secret #2)
At networking events you will meet many people, but only truly connect with people you feel you can help or there is an opportunity for a real business and/or personal relationship and only follow up these people.
Just because somebody puts a business card in your hand, it is not a requirement by you to follow them up… IF ANYTHING, they should be following YOU up!
Now for the good secret…
The most common method of follow-up is e-mail, although texting is becoming quite acceptable. Although this has become very popular, it has never been done well.
I have given up even trying to count or catalogue the number of e-mails/texts I have received from participants at networking events who almost immediately send me a message, when they get back to their office.
My issue is not that they send me a message, but what they put in them.
Please remember, these tips that I am sharing with you have largely been about the other person, not you.
It has been about you, in so far as you, me and everyone else needs to realize that to build good-quality, powerful relationships we need to be focusing on the other person.
We can do a brilliant job of that at the networking event, and then the very next communication we have with people, we blow it… we actually destroy what we have spent time building, with just a few ill-chosen words in an e-mail.
You may very well be asking yourself, “What is he talking about?”
What I am talking about, is that we have spent time, starting to build a relationship, and the next thing we do is talk about nothing else but ourselves.
Every single communication that I have ever received, bar none, is about the other person and what they think they can do for me, pitching me their goods and services, without my permission by the way, not even considering my feelings and the current situation in my business.
If you have written one of these e-mails/texts, all I can say is SHAME, SHAME and SHAME!
Now if you seriously want to be building relationships in business networking, try something like this:
It was a real pleasure meeting you at the networking function this morning. In fact, I was so impressed with the way that you appear to conduct your business that I’d like to continue our conversation, perhaps over a coffee.
I know you are busy, and I am sure that somebody who has the ability to offer the business community what you have, is inundated with coffee requests. I would truly understand if you felt you didn’t have time to do so.
By the way, there were a couple of things that you mentioned during the function that I’d like to continue talking about, as I feel I could learn something from you, and I would appreciate your help…. would you help me?
Again, it was a real pleasure meeting you and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
You may have noticed, that I haven’t mentioned my business, my services, anything about myself and what I can do for them.
In the delicate game of building good-quality business relationships, you need to build a relationship first before you get given permission to market anything to them.
Remember, that it takes time and patience to build a quality relationship and it takes only a moment of a badly timed or inappropriate step to destroy that relationship.
(remember to do this… LOL)
Have FUN… Enjoy Yourself!
As I mentioned earlier, business networking is not just about systems and processes exclusively.
In fact, to my mind, every single business networker that I have ever met, that was successful, never considered business networking hard to do… that it was difficult work… that it was something they had to force themselves to do.
The reality is, to successful networkers it is very much a vocation, an art form, something that they spend time and patience perfecting, much the same way as you would perfect learning a musical instrument or baking a cake.
I call this the, “Cruise and Schmooze” factor, because good, professional networkers make it look so easy and so effortless as they move from group to group, individual to individual, meeting and greeting and developing connections… it is like breathing to them.
Have fun with your business networking and develop a passion around making connections and building relationships with people.
Before you know it, you’ll have an awesome network of quality people around you… who you will know, who you will like, who you will trust and who will think of you in exactly the same way.
When this happens you will be able to build a profitable, large and successful business.
So there you have it… some of my secrets to success so that you can get going and start taking the world by storm.
These are elements that you can quickly learn, before you even start to go out and connect or re-connect with people because now you are primed for success before you begin.
Here’s to your success…
PS. But if all of the above seems a little too hard all on your own, there is an easier way… get in touch (see below), and find out how being part of FLOW and one of our Business Units can really help you to succeed in the relationship game… 🙂
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