As an entrepreneur or professional manager Networking is one of the most important skills you need to develop. The good news is that it’s not complex and you don’t need to study.
The trickier part for some is that it involves people skills or otherwise known as ‘soft skills’.
As a positive way to get into this subject remember only one word when it comes to improving your Networking skills: Attitude.
My networking results have been shall I say, rewarding. To some, Networking may seem obvious, for others dreadful but let me share with you the Top 3 reasons why you should network:
1) Sales, prospecting and developing a customer base.
If you are selling an idea, a product, your company or you as a person, Networking is a very efficient means of getting your message out there and selling. In sales lingo this is referred to ‘personal selling’.
2) Meet new people
Don’t like the hard sell? That’s OK, people network to meet other people. Social media like Facebook (FB) and LinkedIn (LI) are based on the concept of meeting people online and creating networks of friends and like-minded individuals, acquaintances or business associates. There are no shortages of people (in many cases – unknown to you) that want to become your friend on Facebook or LinkedIn. This is a fairly easy operation to set up in FB or LI. The Networking I want to convey here however requires a bit more effort, courage and a face to face meeting which generates far better, tangible results.
3) It’s Win-Win, not win-lose.
Recently I caught up a with a very successful investment banking professional. This fellow had written a book on investment banking and although I had not developed many investment deals business for us to work on, I wanted to keep him in my network. A year passed and by this time investments were scarce in Romania. He had asked me to join him for dinner to update him on business intentions and because I did not want to miss my opportunity to meet him, I agreed to join him for dinner.
As I thought of ways of telling him that there were not going to be any investment deals coming anytime soon, I decided to be straight and tell him that I did not have any leads for us to work on. ‘No problem Paul, I wanted to meet you just the same’ was his reply.
As we continued our discussion I had asked him if he had been approached at times by executive recruiters for board of director appointments. He told me that recently it was more common as boards wanted more transparency. Then I shared with him a board appointment lead I had received. Clearly I did not meet the requirements for this global insurance company but I knew that he would. I showed him the email and he asked me to introduce him to the recruiter, which I did.
Essentially thinking this meeting would be a waste of time for both of us, this fellow walked away with a lead from me without even asking. I gave him the lead since I believed that it was one way of keeping our network open and cementing our relationship.
I also gave him the lead because fundamentally Networking means ‘Win-Win’ and not a, ‘you do something for me and I will do something for you’ approach which will get you nowhere.
Still not convinced why you should network? Find the next 3 reasons in my next post.