Friday, June 9, 2023

8 Keys To Maximizing Your Business Networking Results

business-networking-eventsMany business owners and professionals I know claim they are too busy in their jobs and not interested in taking part in any networking events. They don’t realize that success in business and their career is dependent on the right relationships as well as hard work. In addition, relationships found through networking can make your life a lot more satisfying as well as more productive.

For example, if you are an entrepreneur seeking investment or a cofounder, there is no substitute for networking at industry and startup conferences in your area. If you are a business analyst looking for a promotion or better-paying job, I recommend you look for publication opportunities or speaking engagements that provide networking opportunities as well as improve your visibility.

The next step is to focus on practical ways to improve your success odds from every networking experience you do partake of. I have found that the effort you put into these strategies can easily make the difference between positive and satisfying results versus just wasting your time:

  1. Do your homework to find the best opportunities for you. You need to be proactive in selecting networking opportunities that are relevant to your relationship needs, rather than waiting for available industry conferences or events. Check speaker lists, and target specific people or titles, as opposed to randomly talking to attendees hoping for a match.
  1. Relax and show appreciation for every interaction. Body language and tone of voice are very important here. Show that you enjoy the interaction, rather than rushing to move on or act stressed. If you are an introvert like me, this may be difficult, but remember that your business needs collaboration with partners and vendors, as well as good customers.
  1. Quickly seek common interests from new relationships. Don’t immediately talk about your business problems or needs, but get acquainted first with common connections or even non-work topics or hobbies. You need to establish communication channels and mutual trust, so the relationship can extend beyond the current meeting or interaction.
  1. Make the process a give-and-take rather than one-way. Remember that productive relationships have to show value in both directions, so don’t expect that you can pump someone for funding or connections without offering something worthwhile in return. I have found that even the most successful people are always ready to learn new things.
  1. Be sincere and truthful to show integrity and gain trust. No matter how insecure you are, artificial efforts to alter your image and position are not recommended. I always suggest that you offer a summary of your business and personal background as a level-set for finding common ground in a relationship, and setting a basis for future sharing.
  1. Resist airing negative concerns during networking. Nothing kills a potential relationship quicker than immediately complaining about your problems or other people. Ask questions and really listen to the answers, acknowledging accomplishments and advice, as well as sharing your own perspective and positive experiences along the way.
  1. Recognize status and titles but never show intimidation. People who show fear or trepidation find it hard to get the respect and trust they need to hold up their side of any relationship. On the other hand, talking down to people will never get you what you need to advance your career or your business. I recommend treating all people as equals.
  1. Take the lead in scheduling a continuation discussion. Real networking relationships are never one-time encounters, so if things look positive, don’t wait for the other person to do all the follow-up. Ask for their contact information, share yours, ask for a time and place, and make mental or physical notes on topics to be pursued at the next meeting.

Effective networking can also lead you to great coaches and mentors, as well as business and customer connections. Even successful business leaders, including Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, swear by the mentoring they get from each other in keeping up with changes in their respective areas of expertise as part of what sets them apart in the competitive arena.

Perhaps it’s time for you to take a hard look at how you spend your time and think about how the right networking and relationships could benefit your career and your business. In addition, it’s always good to get away from the grind now and then, have a bit more fun, and reflect on the positives in your accomplishments so far. Life is too short to be tied down with work all the time.

Marty Zwilling

*** First published on on 05/25/2023 ***



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