In today’s business world, networking is an absolutely essential component of a successful marketing strategy or plan. It is especially true if your business is virtual or service-oriented. Successful networking (whether online or face-t0-face) will increase your credibility and level of trust in the community, bring referrals, increase your visibility within your target market, and build the necessary relationships you need to form alliances, partnerships and gain clients. The term networking invokes a different response or feeling in different people. Many times, those feelings are negative . . . fear, anxiety, confusion, or a lack of interest altogether; and oftentimes these feelings are a direct result of inexperience or a lack of knowlege regarding the networking process.
Julianne Kuhlmann, Principal Leadership Coach, Founder and Director of Kool Results, shares some valuable insight and tips about how to approach networking in an easy stress-free manner, from the June issue of her Kool Results Newsletter.
Flying high, flying far…
by Julianne Kuhlmann
“What me? Sell myself? You have to be joking!”
This was the response I received from one of my clients when I suggested that she needed to get out there and promote herself. She had to “network”.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines networking as “interacting with others to exchange information and develop useful contacts.”
This is how I see it. It’s not about “selling yourself” but about an exchange of information with like-minded people.
Say to yourself, “ I am going to do research. I am going to discover what other people are doing, how they are doing it, and why.”
Don’t regard meeting someone as a confrontation. Don’t get up tight. Use lines such as, “I am really interested in you and how you have succeeded in your business.”
One thing is guaranteed. The more difficult you make networking, the less success you will have with it. Approach it with a sense of ease. Have fun! You might actually enjoy it!
The same client complained, “ I never get any business from these networking events. Surely if anyone is interested they would come to me?”
But why should they? What are you doing to create interest in your business? You have to engage them in conversation, ask them questions, and exchange information.
If you come from a space of enquiry, it will be much easier for people to respond to you. The conversation becomes a discussion where you are comparing and contrasting your businesses. You might talk about your staff, or your sales. Try to find some common ground.
At the end of the conversation exchange business cards. But don’t leave it at that. This is the key to future success. Write notes on the back of the card to remind you of relevant points. If you discover a synergy, follow through.
Make contact within the next two weeks, preferably by email first, and then by telephone. Arrange to have a coffee with them. Develop a business relationship.
When I chair meetings I often set the group a task. I challenge the participants to collect five new business cards from one another. Set yourself similar goals. Be bold! Be empowered by your ability to communicate!
Through doing just this Kool Results has joined the International Virtual Women’s Chamber of Commerce. Online I can network with women all over the globe. By taking the first step along the road you too could be flying – virtually or otherwise – around the world.
Julianne Kuhlmann is a principal business coach with over 20 year’s experience. Julianne has a particular interest in coaching women executives, and all managers to lead teams from their heart. She is an enthusiastic & creative thinker with advanced organisational capacity. For more information, visit Julianne’s website at www.koolresults.com.au or email Julianne at [email protected].