Business networking is a popular tool in the box for those seeking to develop their business. What do you need to think about if you are starting out in business networking? Are your current business networking activities working for you? Here’s my take.

Research

Plan your business networking ventures if you are starting out, be a clinician first. The web is a wonderful gismo for this. Try to develop intelligence as to where your target customers are (more likely) to be swimming. It’s all about fishing, in the right rivers, then the right spots, then at the right time of day, then using the bait that is most likely to work. Catch up with someone in the group, ask questions, then if it feels right visit the group.

Patience young Skywalker

I’ve become a fan of Gary Vaynerchuk lately (that surname has my spell checker in a bit of a flap). He preaches this a lot. Patience. You must be patient. In the business networking game you must be there, be consistent and be contributing, chipping away at building a credibility iceberg in front of your group. Patience can be the difference. Even if your head is bursting that you need to jack your sales up. Curb it. I was in one group for 7 months before my first referral but boy it was worth the wait.

Be Specific

Important this one, sounds obvious but many miss the dartboard. Are you a lawyer? Great, we all need one (quiet at the back please). Do you do corporate or investments or sort by marriage out? Be specific with a clear message. Lack of specificity leaves folk confused and furrow browed and next thing you know you are an also ran.

Prepare

We have all seen fantastic introductions, and some not so fantastic. Preparation is always recommended and how you do this is up to you and your style. If you do not prepare = you do not care. Sounds harsh but we all have our credibility antennae and they sniff this out at the drop of a cream cake. There is no mistaking it (ad lib may be ok by Gary Vee but not you). When you do not prepare it shows. Can you afford that?

Be human, because that’s what you are

Some of my introductions have been a little mechanical in the past. This was brought to my attention through some wonderful feedback to this effect. I love feedback. I connect and empathise with humans so being mechanical is actually not my natural suit (in fact I don’t recommend anyone wear the mechanical suit). So I’m not being me. I love emotional EQ, a business meeting is just the conduit to meet interesting people for me, who just happen to be in business. So, humanise your pitch, we connect with humans first then all going well business follows.

Give

I go a lot on gut and have a giving mentality. I’ll connect or give a lead on a first meeting if it feels right. Yep, I admit it, I can refer on first contact. Many don’t though, and that’s fine. Like minded folk will give back. If this does not happen right away don’t count, don’t wait, give them another referral perhaps. However you must curate your sense of awareness antennae around reciprocity. Some will never refer. Yes, never. You need to spot em quick or they can suck your goodwill like a bent politician.

I mentioned the word feel there. Yes, feel. We can only give when it feels right to us, personally. I can feel right on first contact, but that is the exception rather than the rule. Caution shooting your referral rocket too early to ‘please’ or to ‘look good’ or even for a subliminal ego stroke. Nine times out of ten this does not work and serves no value to either party, however well intended. A tepid lead is like biting in to a luke warm pie. Its just all wrong.

NEWSFLASH : It is not about you

Self-orientation transmission is deadly. Recently a friend of mine introduced me to the concept of WIIFM. This is a radio station that most not so successful networkers tune in to. It stands for What’s In It For Me. If you tune in to WIIFM, your prospects will hit the mute like those painful cheap dumb radio commercials. You have two ears and one mouth for very good reason. It is all about your customers and what they think. Not you. Meet Jessica for a coffee first, get to know her a little, how did she get in to physiotherapy? Go for the close on day 1 and you’ll pull your hamstring and be out for 6 months.

Trust

Yes that’s it. One word. The above stuff is fluff relative to this. The big T is all you need. Lennon and McCartney said love however trust is the elixir of (doing) business. But you need to earn it. Trust and development thereof is complex and is a combination of behaviors we humans cognitively read from each other, most being innate (i.e. from the natural you). Everyone comes to their trust tipping point in their own way.

Finally, when all said and done, you need to WORK at your business netWORKing

Business networking is a tool in your sales and marketing box. One of many. A tool that can work for you if you do just that. Work. Over and out.