Business networking is a lot of fun for entrepreneurs. It is a situation where entrepreneurs build relationship with like-minded individuals. It is one great way to gain real success in business. But sadly, most entrepreneurs get a little bit of cold feet when it comes to business networking.
They find it difficult walking up to someone and starting a conversation about business. Many others worry about not getting immediate gains. Business networking doesn’t have to be all that and like I mentioned earlier could turn out to be fun.
So, if you are wondering how possible this is, follow these ten commandments of business networking and start getting maximum benefits from it.
1. Thou shalt be Prepared
Business networking can only succeed with adequate preparation. Ensure you have all the tools you need, be prepared with ready answers to whatever questions you might be asked, prepare your elevator speech (see commandment #2) and whatever you might need to pass the message across to others about your business.
2. Thou shalt always begin with your Elevator Speech
In business networking, one important commandment is using an elevator speech to start a conversation. What is an elevator speech? An elevator speech is one you use in describing yourself briefly.
For example, if you were to meet someone important and you are asked, “what do you do?” your response should be 10 to 20 seconds short (the time it takes to move between floors of an elevator).
Your elevator speech should be like this: my name is ….., I work for….., or we are based in…., our core aim or mission is to……
A speech like this shows you are prepared, focused and experienced and prevents you from rambling. After your elevator speech be sure to end with a question as this starts up a discussion. Ask about the person’s interests or motives and build rapport. This keeps the conversation going and aimed at a positive end.
3. Thou shalt Listen and be Attentive
One mistake most sales rep makes when business networking is being only concerned with sharing your ideas, motives or giving out business cards. This is wrong. Listening to others is very important. Pay attention to what they are saying and do not pretend to do so.
I was in a business networking function one day where there was this guy as soon as he was done exchanging business card, he will hurry to move on to the next person. After a while most people started avoiding him because he was seen as selfish and unserious.
4. Thou shall always Build Relationships
Business networking is not all about getting or exchanging business cards. Getting a hundred business cards at a business networking event doesn’t guarantee that you have made good contacts.
You might not even be remembered. It is important to build relationships either during the business network event or afterwards which brings us to next commandment of business networking.
5. Thou Must Follow-Up
Business networking only yields good results when followed up. Follow-up is one of the great ways to build relationship and trust. As long as a contact is relevant, follow it up. When you do not follow-up, you end up wasting your time and that of others which could get you tagged as a time waster.
Hence, when you make commitments and promises follow them up. Drop a note, place a call or set up a meeting for coffee or drinks, whatever it takes as this is very important in business networking.
6. Thou shalt Exchange Contacts
This commandment might sound dumb because, duh… isn’t that what we are here for? But you couldn’t take your exchange of business card a little step further by asking for two business cards from the other person, one for you and the other to pass on to some other person. This enables you to leave a mark on the contact and could help in building trust and relationships’
7. Thou Shall have a Specific Goal
Another commandment to follow in business networking is having specific goals. It is important to know what you want and aim for it. You need to know what exactly you want to achieve so that when asked, you will be able to give a precise and clear answer.
Knowing your goals also keeps you focused and helps you avoid being pulled in different unwanted directions. Business networking can be very time consuming and a specific goal in mind helps you avoid time wasting. Tell people about the kind of referral you need, be specific about it
8. Thou shall always Appreciate
Another commandment to follow in business networking is appreciation. Always appreciate when you get a referral, appreciate those who give out their time listening to you, appreciate those who respond to your call or invite during follow-up. This also helps in building relationships which is paramount in business networking.
9. Thou Shall Give Before You Receive
Another commandment of business networking is the principle of giving before receiving. People who go into business networking with the mind of “what do I stand to gain” attitude, miss it from the very beginning. You must be ready to give help before receiving help.
This might sound odd but it actually is true, the law of karma extends to business networking. When you continuously put helping others as your priority, it builds your reputation and trust. Most people tend to remember and repay good deeds.
10. Thou shall be Real
It is important not to hide behind a persona. It is important to bring out your real identity so that as contacts get to know you, they would be able to trust you.