Sunday, February 1st 2009
There are countless opportunities for business people today to connect with others from all around the world. Communication has become fast, easy and simplistic. Rotaries, associations, business functions, and clubs are popping up everywhere in helping driven business people of today strive for that never ending goal of networking. Yet, how many of us know what networking is and how to do it properly? So many people go to networking functions for years, never ending up assisting themselves or others; but rather become a friendly face or piece of furniture that blends itself in the background. Hungry business people often make the crucial mistake in thinking that networking is looking for people that will help "scratch their back" while they satisfy the itch of others. Yet, when the time comes for that "contact" to help them out or follow through, most of the time...nothing happens. Where did we go wrong?
Something we all need to understand is that networking is about building long term relationships for exchange of information. It is done from the attitude of "giving" rather than "getting". If you are going to a networking function for a quick fix in attempts to have some else fill the void in your company, guess again.
Networking functions are wonderful opportunities to learn about other businesses in your area. Start a conversation with someone based on who they are and what they are interested in. You’ll be amazed at all of the things you will learn! New knowledge can assist you in creating all kinds of new projects for your company in helping you market yourself! While you are conversing with someone, you not only find out about what they know, but also what they need. If you feel that you can help...suggest just that (but only if you will follow through), this is a great way to begin a trusting relationship with someone. It’s great to let people speak and listen to what they are passionate about...because it’s contagious! In networking situations, not everything will be business because your focus should be on building relationships. To demonstrate that, do not talk about yourself unless asked. If you do, it will sound like you are lecturing and educating them on what you do without their permission and you may lose the individuals interest. It will also become quite obvious that you are only there in attempts to benefit yourself and your company, rather than to build rapport and lasting relationships with those in attendance. You don’t want anyone to feel like they are a pawn in the rising of your organization.
Speak with people in positive terms. There is nothing more depressing than listening to someone that thinks the world out to get them and that everything is going down the toilet. Trust me when I say, you will soon be avoided by most if you speak like this. Keep news light, upbeat and happy.
If you are interested in a business card, ask for one and make sure to look at it before you put it away. You only want to present your card when asked for it.
If you want to become really detailed and amazing at networking, seek out an image consultant like myself or another trained professional to help you with it.
Above all, smile with eye contact when talking to people. I’ve always believed the saying that the "eyes are the windows to the soul". Allow others to see the sparkle in your eyes, the warmth in your heart, and passion for what you do. The rest will follow.
Christie Ressel, CEO and Creative Director
Personal Power Image Consulting™ ©
*Toronto based image consulting