As a business owner, one of your primary goals is to continue to fill your pipeline with new business. One of the most cost-effective ways to do this – particularly for a smaller business – is through networking.
One of the biggest roadblocks to networking is the fear that being more of an “introvert” impedes any successful attempts at trying to network. In fact, it’s a question I get quite frequently: “How do I network if I’m not a naturally outgoing person?”
Go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief—because you don’t have to become Mr. Public Speaker, Person About Town, to be a successful networker. Most business people, given a little real-world experience, naturally develop a certain level of comfort in dealing with customers, vendors, and others in their day-to-day transactions. Even people who are not gregarious or outgoing can form meaningful relationships and communicate.
Online Networking: Building Your Social Capital at Your Desk
If it is taking you a bit longer to get used to face-to-face networking, remember that thanks to technology’s continuing advances, you can also network without ever leaving your desk – online networking is a very effective way to connect with potential clients and referral sources.It’s usually better to use online networking with people only after you’ve established a relationship with them by traditional means. To develop trust, respect, and true friendship, it’s hard to beat in-person conversation and the occasional handshake or pat on the shoulder.
Offering Advice to Break the Ice
So we’re back to the challenge of doing some face-to-face networking when you haven’t had much practice at it, or are not sure how to “break the ice.” To get you started, you might want to try offering some free professional advice. If you’re a marketing consultant, give your prospects a couple of ideas on how they can increase the exposure of their business. Don’t go overboard; maybe a technique you read in a magazine or tried with one of your clients. Just give them something they can “try on” to see if it works.
Not only will this open up a good conversation with the person (while you’re out networking), but if you play your cards right, who do you think they’ll go to when they’re in need of your kind of service? When it comes to building rapport and creating trust, nothing does it better than solid, helpful information provided out of a genuine concern for the other person.
Become a Trusted Source for Quality Referrals and Contacts
Another way to ease into networking is to provide a referral or contact. This could be a direct referral (someone you know who’s in the market for this person’s services) or a solid contact (someone who could help in other ways down the road). Being new to networking does not have to be a barrier to building and maintaining relationships that will help grow your business. Simply identify your professional skill set and make it work for you: Volunteer to be a presenter or host at a local chamber, civic, or networking event; offer professional advice as a way to develop a new relationship; and be willing to share your valuable relationships with others so they will identify you as a go-to person for trusted referral sources. Before you know it, you won’t remember a time when you were anything but a solid, professional networker.
Called the “Father of Modern Networking” by CNN and the “Networking Guru” by Entrepreneur magazine, Dr. Misner is considered one of the world’s leading experts on business networking and has been a keynote speaker for major corporations and associations throughout the world.
Right now you can learn the tips and techniques networking leaders use themselves and have proven to bring results. It’s all about working smarter, not harder.
About the Author:
Dr. Ivan Misner: When you buy Networking Like a Pro from Amazon via our special offer: http://ivanmisner.com/amazonbookbonus.html our exclusive bonus offer includes a 6-month free Premium Subscription to Networking Pro, the leading online networking resource that contains free training, e-books, audio podcasts and more! Offer good Feb 1-4 in honor of International Networking Week.