Although an extensive business network can prove to be an invaluable resource, networking also involves a certain level of risk. Contact with others creates the potential not only for mutually beneficial relationships to form but also for occasional misunderstandings to occur. While business networking is not an exact science, you can maximize the benefits of networking and avert potential problems by applying the following rules of thumb:
What Not to Do: Major Networking Mistakes
- Don’t ignore referrals: Follow-up with networking contacts as quickly as possible; any delay conveys indecisiveness and disinterest.
- Don’t push your product or service: Networking and direct selling are two very different things.
- Don’t abuse the relationship: Be upfront and honest in your business relationships. Your firm’s reputation is on the line.
- Don’t rely exclusively on the Internet: Follow-up online contacts with more traditional face-to-face meetings.
- Don’t let shyness hold you back: With practice, even introverted individuals can network confidently. A world of opportunity is waiting for you!
What To Do: Simple Strategies For Networking Success
- Know yourself and what you want. Prepare a “pitch” that concisely explains what your business does and what you are looking for.
- Be presentable: Your appearance and demeanor represent your firm.
- Be prepared to exchange business cards: Always keep your card on hand. After exchanging cards, it is also helpful to write a description of the other individual and their position on the back of their card.
- Branch out: Get to know as many members of your networking circle as possible.
- Know your benefits: Be able to explain the potential benefits of your products/services and not just an list of what services/products your business offers.
Although the rules listed above can help you network successfully while avoiding some common gaffes, this is not an exhaustive list. As you interact with other business professionals, you will develop social strategies that work for you. Even above these basic rules and the strategies you develop, the most important rule for networking is to be yourself. Others will respond much more positively to your authentic demeanor than to a stiff business persona; after all, network is about building the trust that forms the basis for lasting and beneficial relationships,
Make Success Happen,
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